They’re Only Dogs

I don’t know if I should waste the time writing about what may not even technically be “journalism” based on the warped or altogether absent logic presented in the writer’s argument, but I can’t let such a horrendously out of touch article slip by without saying something. Please read the inane ramblings of Adrian MacNair.

I don’t know how much back story I need to give but here are the nuts and bolts of a dog killer’s cruel and bizarre voyage to prison.

This dog walker, Emma Paulsen, left a bunch of dogs in her truck for god knows how long. That should be the first sign that she shouldn’t be taking care of dogs in the first place. It’s one of the cardinal rules when traveling with a pet. Anyway…long story short—shocker!—they all died from heat stroke. All of them. This little fact leads me to assume that she was gone for a very long time. It’s not like they all died at the exact same second. It must have taken time for all six dogs to languish from overheating.

So what does a kind, caring soul like Ms. Paulsen decide to do at the sight of a pile of dead dogs in her truck? She dumps them all in a ditch and reports to the police that they had been stolen. Yup, we have a real animal lover here, folks. She led on the local authorities and the owners, giving them all hope that, maybe, sometime soon, their beloved animals would return safely. All the while she knew they were decomposing in a hole outside of town. This ruse lasted for a week until she finally fessed up and admitted that she had killed them and hid the bodies. Charges were filed and she ended up sentenced to six months in prison among other reprimands.

You know me. You know how much I love animals. Throwing her in prison for a brief stint seems like a real “no effing duh!” outcome. All too often animal cruelty laws are ignored and enforcement is minimal if not nonexistent. Add in the whole filing a false report, lying to police, etc., and the charges make sense. I was glad to see something come of this case.

Then I read the article by Adrian MacNair that left me in utter disbelief. You think Paulsen’s crime isn’t such a big deal just because they’re dogs? What kind of twisted logic is that?

Let me just look at this from a cold, legal standpoint. If you take away the emotional connection, the sentimentality, and the intangibles of pet ownership, a dog is still property. If I bought or adopted the dog, took it in, gave it a place to live, have a license for it, blah blah blah, it is technically something that I own. Now substitute a dog for any other piece of property people own. Let’s say cars. If this woman had completely totaled six peoples’ cars, messed with evidence, filed a false police report and lied to police, she’d be expected to go to jail for that, right? It doesn’t matter how much the item cost or how easily it can be replaced.  The foundational principle here is that it’s another person’s stuff and people can’t just destroy it without consequence. I’m no lawyer but I’m pretty sure that’s the way it works.

And I’m willing to bet good money that MacNair would agree with me on that particular analogy.  Now, in addition to those facts above, add back in the emotional investment which can’t be measured and try to tell me that the bond between a person and their animal doesn’t add intrinsic value.  That’s the part Mr. MacNair apparently can’t wrap his head around.

The sheer callousness in which MacNair views an animal’s life is downright shocking. In one section MacNair writes, “I felt sympathy because Paulsen is going to lose her right to freedom over the death of six animals who, at the end of the day, are essentially inconsequential to this world. Oh yes, I’m sure the dogs were important to the dog owners. That much is clear. But they’re only dogs. And this is a woman’s life we’re talking about. Dogs are easily replaced. If you don’t think that’s true, head down to your local animal shelter. You can grab one for about $350.”

Yes, we all know how much dogs cost. But their price tag does not determine their value. That’s not how connections between living beings work. Try telling a child, crying and inconsolable after his first dog passes, that his beloved friend didn’t mean anything, that it was inconsequential to this world. Those happy memories of them playing in the grass, the lesson the child was learning about how to care for another living creature, the deeply rooted joy given by the dog that will largely help define his happy childhood, you’re telling me that has no impact on the world? If you believe that, you are delusional.

A commenter, Ida Koric, summed it up best by saying, “Your main issue, MacNair, is that you feel that you’ve been granted the right to determine the value of a life. You have dismissed dogs as “just dogs” with absolutely NO logical argument about why the life of a dog, or any animal is meaningless, other than that it appears to be so to your personal view. Guess what? You don’t get to make that decision…”

Amen, Ms. Koric. And hopefully people like MacNair never will have that authority.

If you’re interested, links to the original story about Ms. Paulsen’s actions are below:

http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/british-columbia/6-missing-dogs-died-in-back-of-langley-dog-walker-s-truck-1.2647705

http://www.ctvnews.ca/canada/drama-unfolds-outside-courthouse-as-dog-walker-case-gets-underway-1.2000206

http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/british-columbia/emma-paulsen-b-c-dog-walker-gets-jail-time-for-animal-cruelty-1.2935040