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Why It’s Cruel to Keep Dogs as “Pets”

Melissa cares for a variety of exotic animals and has completed a certificate in veterinary assisting and a bachelor's degree in biology.

An unnatural existence

Stolen from your mother as a youngster, confined, controlled, surgically altered, and bored for hours on end. Imagine yourself as a "pet" dog.

You retain many of the instincts of your wild ancestors such as the desire to run free at your own will, eat fresh food as nature intended, and to have the constant company of your own family members as you explore your territory and take in the sounds and smells of the natural world.

Now place yourself in a small Manhattan apartment, enduring the intermittent company of your beloved master with your ability to see the world and even use the bathroom remaining on their terms only. You only occasionally get to meet members of your own species, many of which have been so strangely altered due to selective breeding that the natural order ceases to exist. Your range consists of wherever your owner takes you, on a leash of course. It is a confusing, distressing and unnatural existence.

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Facts about the dog trade

  • There are Approximately 83.3 million owned dogs in the United States.
  • 70% of dog owners own one dog
  • 6-8 million dogs enter shelters each year, and an estimated 3-4 million healthy cats and dogs are euthanized yearly.
  • Across the country, privately-held dogs held have escaped from their fenced in yards and have attacked humans and other animals — with sometimes fatal results.
  • Many dogs can transmit deadly diseases — including MRSA, lyme disease and salmonellosis — to humans.
  • The CDC states that "Nearly 4.5 million Americans are bitten by dogs each year, half of these are children.1 One in five dog bites results in injuries serious enough to require medical attention."
  • Puppy mills are breeding factory farms that hold dogs in cramped cages and force female dogs to breed every time they are in heat (a 5 year old dog gives birth to 10 litters).

Dogs are often kept in crates


Domestication is cruel

Many owners of dogs think that they love their “pets” and that they are members of their families, but the reality is that these animals are being denied their freedom that people mistakenly think they no longer desire because they have been “domesticated”.

All too often, people think that because a practice has been around for ages, it can't be unethical. It is true that dogs have evolved with mankind for centuries, but the relationship started as a symbiotic one where wolves would accompany humans free-ranging in a wild and natural existence. Eventually, the reciprocal relationship of humans and dogs devolved to exploitation and abuse.

The Suffering of Pure Breds

Many dogs are forcibly “selectively bred” (and their puppies abducted) to have unnatural traits and suffer from health problems, shortened life spans, and impaired mental development. These once wild and magnificent animals have been altered to be entirely dependent on humans, with only a few dog breeds capable of providing for themselves in the wild.

People think that they have successfully altered nature to such an extent that this once wild wolf is now as good as a human child with stunted cognition, perfectly suited for confinement. Most dogs have no choice but to endure an existence with humans for their social, physical, and psychological needs, but these needs are on a large scale, often not met.

Puppy mills flourish

Dog Breeding and the Dog Trade

If a domesticated dog is lucky enough to not to be bred with numerous intentional deformities (and some breeds are even forced to go through surgery to alter their appearance), it is still yanked away from its parents at a young age to be sold to humans as a “pet” through ‘pet’ stores or breeders. Dog ownership has grown to such popularity that many ‘surplus’ dogs languish in shelters, waiting to get adopted by the species that created them, and often unsuccessfully.

Dogs that suffer from ‘behavioral problems’ (these are often dogs that express their natural, repressed instincts) are put to death because they make less than optimal “pets”. Other dogs can even suffer the same fate simply because they are large, black, and unappealing to new families.

To combat the ‘pet overpopulation problem’, it is recommended for most dog owners to ‘spay or neuter’ their animals. These words are a nice way of saying castration, or mutilating the dog’s reproductive organs. Would you want your genitals severed in the name of human population control? Many studies show that such a procedure causes hormone imbalances and increased risk of some ailments.

After dogs go through this procedure, most are fed boring and inadequate dried kibble that is not anywhere near what their natural diet should consist of or taste like. These inferior diets lead to illness, bad breath, and life threatening dental diseases.

Psychological Welfare

What happens if you work regular 9-5 hour jobs like most Americans? Dogs must spend unnatural amounts of time waiting for their owners to return. No matter how much we selectively breed dogs to suit our lifestyles, no dogs prefer loneliness. Sometimes dogs less resilient to this mistreatment acquire mental problems that are referred to as “separation anxiety”, but owners brush it off as acceptable and may confine their dogs to a crate (barely enough room for the dog to turn around in) as a result.

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Stereotypic behavior in shelter dogs

Dogs have been known to suffer from depression, obsessive compulsive disorder and other mental and emotional problems in captivity. Often under-exercised and under-stimulated, some dogs may become unnaturally lethargic, leading to weight gain.

Many dogs are so far removed from their natural behavior that they do not know how to get along with other dogs. These dogs when available for adoption are simply titled 'must be adopted to a one dog household', but often are suffering from profound anxiety disorders and neurosis.

People pay top dollar for some dog breeds that are deformed in the name of aesthetics.

People pay top dollar for some dog breeds that are deformed in the name of aesthetics.

Dogs Carry and Transmit Disease

Dog ownership helps spread disease among the public. Dogs can carry and transmit to humans: brucellosis, campylobacteriosis, cryptosporidosis, giardia, MRSA, lyme disease, rabies, ringworm, salmonellosis, toxocariasis, and others.

Diseases spread by dogs are often under-reported as well, making owners of dogs more susceptible to ignoring the risk. Dogs also spread many diseases through their waste in the environment, so it is not only the owners who are at risk.

While many owners pick up after dogs, there are more than enough remnants of their fecal matter to transmit illness to children who play in the areas where they have eliminated. Not all dogs are vaccinated for rabies (and dogs love to chase and fight with animals that carry rabies) and can acquire the deadly disease and spread it unbeknownst to the owner through a bite or scratch. Recently people have even acquired diseases from commercial pet food. Raw diets for dogs are closer to their natural diet but also can transmit germs.

Dogs are a dangerous public safety hazard!

Every year, Americas are reminded that their domesticated pets still retain defensive and predatory instincts. Dog attacks on people are extremely common in comparison to all other pets. In fact, around 50 percent of all homeowner insurance liability claims that are paid out are due to dog attacks. In 2011, the total cost amounted to $479 million.

Also under-reported are less severe bites that the owners and their acquaintances sustain because they do not want to report their beloved pets. Approximately 4.7 million people are bitten by dogs each year. Even bites and scratches from dogs can become infected with bacteria such as Capnocytophaga ochracea or Pasteurella multocida and become life threatening if the infection reaches the bone. Dog attacks result in approximately 20-30 fatalities each year, with most of the victims consisting of young children.

End This Cruel Practice

Simply put, breeding dogs to be "pets" is a wrong and cruel act that is detrimental for our society. Wild wolves were never meant to be the pet project of humans solely for their amusement and company. Dogs should be with members of their own species, free to make their own decisions. Humans have each other to provide companionship, and small children can have very realistic stuffed toys if they want a mammal to play with. Live animals are no substitute for good parenting.

What Can You Do?

Unfortunately, the problem of “pet” dogs is extremely prominent. We need to support laws that ban the breeding of these animals. If you must have a dog, please only adopt one, and try to give it as much freedom as possible in its confined and unnatural existence. Together, we can phase out the practice of breeding and owning dogs as “pets”.


The bottom line is that people don't have the right to manipulate or to breed dogs and cats... If people want toys, they should buy inanimate objects. If they want companionship, they should seek it with their own kind.

— Ingrid Newkirk, Animals, May 1993 (PETA)

Disclaimer: Does everything written above sound like a load of irritating nonsense? Perhaps your first reaction was, "that's not true about my dog", or, "that may be true...but". Maybe you are certain that you or your friend's conduct of dog ownership does not support the dark side of captive canines, and surely the benefits and fulfillment that dog ownership entails for people exceeds the negative impacts that occur. Well, be advised that most, if not all of what is presented in this hub is true, in its own misleading way.

This is the emotionally manipulative and toxic rhetoric that exotic pet owners face everyday and it is used to urge legislative officials to ban non-domesticated pets in captivity for private owners and even zoological facilities. My bullet point list toward the beginning of this article is partially ripped and modified from the webpage "10 fast facts about exotic pets"

Stemming from the ideology of animal rights, essentially, any argument against 'exotic pet' ownership is calling into question pet ownership in general.

People with uncommon pets are easier targets and are subjected to public scrutiny because their choice of species is unlike that of the majority. There is also a dominant assumption that all of these animals are dangerous or unsuitable for captivity with little or no evidence, just ideological viewpoints. It should be understood that "exotic pet" does NOT pertain only to large dangerous carnivores.

Animal rights groups attempt to remove the complexities of the issue and propose that an enormous group of animals simply can't properly co-exist with their caretakers in captivity by exploiting the ignorance of the unknowing public.

Responsible pet owners pay taxes and are also contributing members of society who do not deserve to suffer not being able to do what they want with their lives. It's time that pet owners of every kind are afforded the same consideration for their lifestyle choices that are given to owners of dogs and cats.

Ownership of animals is a property right that is and should remain protected by the Constitution.

A person's choice, livelihood, and pursuit of happiness should not be determined by another individual's arbitrary emotional sentiment.


Frederick F. Lynstown on May 15, 2020: should be more concerned about wet markets in china/korea

Places wher wok the dog has a whole new meaning

Whatever. on April 18, 2018:

Of course you used the color 'Black' as a reason why some people wont care for them.

Tom on September 04, 2017:

Yes, you're right. Although I dont like having a child, dogs have the right to have their own babies, but they may be forced to do a surgery that eliminates their right to reproduce by their so-called "kind" keepers for keepers' convenience! Hypocrites

Donny on August 25, 2016:

Melissa, I am a dog behaviorist/whisperer and could not agree with you more. Every day I see dogs with inane owners who fail to honor their needs as animals and canines, and due to their lives simply cannot do so. I believe that the issue you present should be viewed at a high moral and ethical level. Even so-called "stable" dogs suffer from boredom and a way of life that mother nature never intended. Americans have domesticated dogs to suit our convenience with no regard to fulfilling their needs. Your article is not popular obviously, but completely spot on.I congratulate you for what you have written.

KeviBrown827 on July 07, 2016:

Sounds like something PETA would write. Set the dogs free, and then when we have roving packs of canines ruining the ecosystem, more than they already are, then what do we do? Oh, I dunno. Kill them? But then what did we save them from the oh so terrible slavery for?

kakster on May 03, 2016:

BTW, high five, Reinaldo! Agree totally. Melissa, you had me up until the disclaimer...were sharing most of my long held views. Except for some rescue situations, I believe that the vast majority of "pet ownership" is for self-gratification, even if the pet is "treated" as a member of the royal family. Just add up all the "happy/interesting times" your pet has over the course of a typical day and see how little it comes to. Then compare that to what a free/natural existence would be like for them (not that they can have that...we've made that bed already). By far, my dog's "happiest" times are when I find a wooded area to let him off the leash and run/sniff/pee/poop/chase/bark (i.e. be a dog!). And what a dejected look when it's time to go back on the leash. Just my 2.5 cents worth...don't expect to change anyone's thinking!

kakster on May 03, 2016:

I care for a dog (inherited!) that I constantly feel sorry for because he is stuck in a yard all dog companionship, nothing to hunt or forage or interesting to do, anxiously awaiting my return from work to get a quick walk (cause I'm tired!), eat, and lay around doing nothing the whole evening...the most boring existence I can imagine! I can only guess that I'm not alone in this scenario. No animal was meant to live this way. I can see having a pet if you're saving it from abuse, or if you're home a lot to give it fairly constant companionship, but mostly I see pet ownership as enslavement for personal gain. Most of your article rang very true! Obviously we can't set them "all free", so I'm not saying I have a solution to this circular frenzy we humans have taken to extremes.

Melissa A Smith (author) from New York on March 11, 2016:

Such 'facts' written here are overly simplistic generalizations and half-truths, just like the exotic pet trade, and that is the point of this article. Plus there is BS assumptions about how dogs 'feel' about this treatment, again, like what exotic pet owners hear. The article is supposed to make you think beyond the dogma, but if you are so easily swayed by these types of logically fallacious arguments it might not work for you.

Reinaldo M Vieira on March 11, 2016:

"Disclaimer: Does everything written above sound like a load of irritating nonsense?" - The Author

Well truthfully, none of it sounds like nonsense. The fact that the author would write all of that to later justify owning exotic animals makes this article a bit twisted, like sure, let us list all of these facts and then ignore them completely so that we can now also own "exotic" animals...

Reinaldo M Vieira on March 11, 2016:

I agree 100% with the author.

I think people that don't agree are just in too deep into this cycle that they will try to justify their behavior, with a complete disregard of the facts.

How would YOU like to be taken from your mother and siblings, and forced to be somebody´s emotional comfort toy.

Tell me now how your dog can go outside whenever he wants, he can eat whenever he wants, be with his siblings whenever he wants, see his parents? He can't right??? He is captured! He is your emotional slave.

AS much as you take good care of your "pet" he would be better off with his siblings and mother - and the fact that he has been domesticated throughout ages doesn't make it correct. Think now, is everything that mankind done throughout ages correct?

We need to re-think a lot of things in modern society, this is one of those things.

BTW I am not a tree-hugger, PETA supporter, I am just a person with a brain and 2 dogs that I really love, and I am not a hypocrite - if I could turn back time I would leave these dogs with their parents, but the truth is - somebody would have bought them anyways - so I will try my best to care for them and give them the company of their own breed to socialize with.

But there shouldn't be a market for pets - just like we outlawed slavery, pets have become our emotional slaves - and this is wrong... I try this line of reasoning with my brother, but I can see his EMOTIONS and PRIDE cloud his thinking, nobody likes to be wrong, especially when they themselves bought their "pet".

Patz on January 27, 2016:

totally agree with the author on this one!...

Melissa A Smith (author) from New York on January 10, 2016:

Thank you Tala.

Tala on January 05, 2016:

Love this article, and it's amazing how many people didn't actually understand the point of it. It only took my own bit of skimming to actually figure out its nature. I also love your other articles! I've just discovered them, and love them to bits, to be honest. I don't have a goldfish to my name, but I am a big dog lover, and on top of that I am very okay with exotic pet ownership under the right hands. Thanks for your work!

Melissa A Smith (author) from New York on November 11, 2015:

Tina009: I don't think I ever said a cat is happier indoors, but the wildlife (except coyotes who appreciate your pets) will be, and the (intelligent) humans. The only logical way to care for a 'pet' is to contain it. Anything else should be illegal and frowned upon. You shouldn't be able to let your cat 'choose' to intrude on my property. I do not want it there, and I shouldn't have to deal with any inconveniences that YOU cause me because your pet is not a part of the natural environment. I only tolerate native animals and I should have every right to take your pet away if you refuse to care for it.

Maria Rosano on November 07, 2015:

Most of the objections to the theme of the article are by dog owners. Of course they want to defend their stance as they are emotionally attached to the animal and only see what they want to see. Any captivity of an animal is wrong. If people stop keeping pets then the supply of specially bred animals will decline with the decline of demand. Think long and hard about what you are doing before deciding to get a pet. Getting a pet is a totally selfish act as there is much more in it for you than the pet, no matter how you decide to rationalise it in your head.

Tina009 on November 06, 2015:

I do not agree that a cat kept in house is happier than a cat who lives in a house and has access to go outside with the risk of being hit with a car.

If you let a cat go outside and then stop allowing it to her, she will sit in front of your door and won't stop meowing until you let her out, that is a fact, she is stating a opinion: I want to go out!

She doesn't know of dangers of being outside? Well animals that live in wild are at danger everyday of being eaten, get sick or injured to the point they will die of that injury, it certainly cant be true that an animal would chose a safe life within 4 walls in front of a free life to go wherever it wants even if it is risky as well a human wouldn't choose it.

How can you say a cat is happier indoors than on a risk of getting hurt outside your home while at the same time asking for all animals to live free at the wild???

You can make a cat chase laser everyday and it still isn't the same as chasing a mouse outside. As cats grew adult also they lose interest for their cat toys and they will eventually stop chasing them while they will still chase other smaller living being outside of the house and Im saying this from experience from having cats that were only house cats and cats that were go-out cats and I even had a cat who was half of her life in house and the other half house+outdoors and she chose outdoors herself I didn't force her to go out but as she did she kept close to the house, only my garden and neighbor's garden, going in and out when she wanted.

Saying a cat is happier withing 4 walls than going outside is like saying a tiger is happier in a cage than in a jungle.

I also read several books about cat behavior and domestication along with watching shows about wild life and vets talking about animals and so I do think I know a thing or two about cats.

I do not claim the life cats have with humans are perfect lives mostly depending on how their owners treat them and where they live but a cat is a animal that kept most of the characteristics of her wild ancestor, and if a cat lives in a village with a lot of nature with its owner and is free to go outside when she wants it can almost not get more natural then that since she can do everything a wild cat would do + get extra food and a warm bed from a human. such animal is also obviously choosing to come back for that extra food and petting. the cat domestication began when human started to put small houses for cats around their barns so cats would hunt mice for them and in return cats got a warm place to sleep and extra food and they chose to stay for a easier life!

I do believe the similar thing happened with a dog, when you offer food to any animal that animal is probably going to keep coming back as well as the birds come back to the place you leave bread for them.

The another thing is that humans started to lock animals in cages limiting their freedom of movement and exploiting them to the points of torture. Every human in my opinion that wants to have a pet should provide as natural conditions for them as possible.

anti slavery on October 08, 2015:

I value all life form as equal. Yes a carrot has just as much the right to live without stress just as much as bugs just as much as animals just as much as humans. No one is superior in term of life. Yes I will defend and protect my own species over other living forms but it doesn't mean that we are better than anything else.

Owning animals as pet is slavery. Not all human slaves where mistreated but they were "owned" and dictated how to act. Pets are not free. therefor pets are slaves. Slavery is cruelty.

Chad on August 26, 2015:

OK, dog lovers, cat lovers, pet lovers whatever you want to call yourself. Holly Bahgoalies. What the main overall sense of purpose know the kind of underlying messages that creep up and get you thinking about things, is this......there is a major and I mean a major over population pet problem because PEOPLE do not want to bring their pets up in the responsible way. There's no reason that( I work as a canvasser) that in any given neighborhood around the populated city I live in has houses with single dogs in them..barking uncontrollably like they have some kind of rabies disease. Seriously, this is proof that dogs are not only sensitive about territory but think about it. If they are sensitive about territory what give any argument that they should be pets validity. None! We never should've f'ed with them in the first place but now of course we have and neighborhoods are popping up everywhere with crazy ass owners leaving their crazy ass single dogs alone everyday. Get some sense, get some smarts and look at the big picture. Not just about how you feel personally about your pet..because I'm sure they are the "best"

ajar u on June 30, 2015:

if dogs and cats run around the area you will get more disease and sick my country had this kind of problem.I stay in Asia,in Asia plenty dogs and cats run around, do you know what happen you can hear them fighting every time,the blood drip everywhere and dirty digging out rubbish,flea and thick in every area even on people skin now day tick has increase,i still remember more and more road kill animal is know as cats & dogs.However,many tourist from other country feel unhappy and uncomfortable because of unclean animals that running around into the restaurant to find food. So do you want to eat with cats & dogs all with bad skin and torn skin with blood and tick some of it even scratch until the fur turn into blood ? Imagine that how I feel about that.

I feel proud that some country have dogs and cats shelter it was so good the vet can treat them away from sick and

You really don't know about it how we feel many people in Asia or what ever country really pet their cats & dogs in wrong way "it is similar idea what just you say do not keep them as pet" it was totally chaos you know animal still food in restaurant early in the morning when we start cooking the cat tick fall all over the kitchen floor and table.

I feel good too that some country has animal shelter and save them from bothering people while working and than who wants pets can go to shelter to adopt one or more

Frida Nyberg from Sweden on May 31, 2015:

This article is satire... and yes, wolves definitely starve and freeze (happens easily when you don't get enough food) to death. They're not superheroes or gods, they're animals.

Adela on May 26, 2015:

This article is completely correct. a few more points ... people who own dogs usually suffer from ego issues and if you speak with them they go on about what the dog does for them as opposed to their love for the animal. Something is clearly amiss when someone feels the need to go outside their own species for companionship or protection. Humans have taken one of nature's most magnificent predators and turned them into a more pathetic version of themselves. ever hear of a wolf freezing or starving to death? thought not. Domestication of dogs is an act of extreme selfishness and abomination.

san-m on May 16, 2015:


Thanks for writing this. I feel exactly the way you do. Humans have bred dogs to perfectly fit their lifestyle. The most common explanation people have is that 'No matter what my day is like, my dog is always eagerly waiting to see me'. Yes, this dog is inevitably made so dependent on it''s owner that it has no choice. It has to rely on it's owner for affection and food. The whole idea is just wrong. Dogs and other pets are meant to be among their own kind!

Some may feel that I never had the affection of a dog and hence I don't understand. I grew up with a pet dog till i was about 10.

1. My first dog passed away.. I don't know how. I remember finding it adorable.

2. I remember my 2nd dog when it came home as a puppy. I adored it and played with it. It had to move to a village (where it had a lot more space and freedom) because my family moved to a big city and wasn't very suitable for dogs. But my dog ran away and died under a bus :(

3. My neighbor's dog attacked my friend right in front of me when I was 11. The dog was ferocious and seemed frustrated being on a leash all the time and living in between people.

Just because a majority of the population is already having dogs as pets it doesn't make it okay!

The real problem though is that it's more difficult to have a relationship with human than with a dog cause it's mutual with a human being and with a dog, it's there for you no matter what. So people find that having a god is a better arrangement to get some guaranteed affection?

Melissa A Smith (author) from New York on May 03, 2015:

Finally someone who gets it Katelynn!

Katelynn on May 02, 2015:

I'll admit, when I first started reading your article I was like, "is this person for real?!" But then I got to the end and felt so much better. I get where you're coming from. I personally wouldn't call my dog a captive, but that is just the visceral reaction to the word. They pretty much are one in the same. If you are caring for your pets, whether exotic or not, then who am I to judge you? Like with pitbulls, it's the irresponsible owners that make the news. Final thought, it's amazing how many people didn't really read the article.

Melissa A Smith (author) from New York on April 08, 2015:

Translation for John's comment : I don't agree with what you say so I'll resort to nasty little put downs to try and upset the author because I'm too big of a cretin to rebut it or move on.

John on April 08, 2015:

Well I don't agree with nearly anything you say, but I'll say that I'm impressed by how much effort you put in for how few people actually regularly read your articles.

Melissa A Smith (author) from New York on March 26, 2015:

Karen, this article states exactly that:

"It is true that dogs have evolved with mankind for centuries, but the relationship started as a symbiotic one where wolves would accompany humans free-ranging in a wild and natural existence. Eventually, the reciprocal relationship of humans and dogs devolved to exploitation and abuse."

Are you going to deny that our relationship with dogs is an exploitative one? Are dogs not sold? Forcibly altered? Mates selected? Homes selected? Forcibly confined? Bred with an incredibly amount of deformities for mere aesthetics that does often impact LONGEVITY? What is it so deplorable to produce teacups but not chihuahuas, Yorkshire terriers, and heck, the entire toy group?

Why do people cling to the argument about how domestication STARTED while ignoring how it is TODAY?

Karen on March 26, 2015:

Your logic is flawed on so many levels, but particularly this one: dogs, or or their predecessors, selected humans, not the other way around. Humans provided food; wolves provided security. A centuries old, symbiotic relationship was born.

While certain breeding practices (like making “teacup” size dogs) are deplorable, the dog/human bond is healthy and necessary for the longevity of both species.

The rest of your argument is just silly.

Melissa A Smith (author) from New York on January 12, 2015:

"All I'm saying is that you don't need to be against keeping dogs as pets, just be against the things that are actually harming them."

Thank you!

Thorough Reader on January 12, 2015:

Thank you for this article.... and I apoligize for everybody who read the title and inmediately flew down to the comments. People, if you are going to comment about the article, please read it first.

ADogLover on January 12, 2015:

Just saying, domestic dogs actually AREN'T bred to be in the wild. In my opinion, they are perfectly happy where they are. My two dogs often socialize with one another, with us, and with other dogs and humans. Neither of them come from puppy mills; I have a beagle/dachshund mix from a shelter and an australian shepherd from a breeder in Florida. They both love running around on our 3 acre property. All I'm saying is that you don't need to be against keeping dogs as pets, just be against the things that are actually harming them. For example, puppy mills, dog fighting rings, backyard breeders, and irresponsible owners.

Thanks, -a proud dog owner.

Melissa A Smith (author) from New York on January 09, 2015:

Jamie L, the article is satire. Please keep your cats inside.

Jamie Lynn Gearheart from Hi Hat, Kentucky on January 09, 2015:

Wow is this article even for real! I understand that they need to be free and not be in a house or confined all the time. I love my cats, and I tried letting them go outside but they wanted right back in. I have strays that I have taken in, they come to my house starving and needing my help. So I help them. I wont let a animals starve just because oh its their nature and they can fend for themselves. I let my cats out, they were outside cats and they hate it outside. My cats are spoiled and healthy. If you seen what I see everyday, the strays on the street here starving, no shelter, freezing to death, and just lonely then it would change your mind. This article disturbed me. I will never read another thing from this person. I love my animals and if they want outside to live, they can but they don't.

Anas on December 07, 2014:

Thank you for posting this article. While I'm not surprised about the amount of negative feedback you've gotten from it (since the majority of westerners consider themselves 'animal people' by keeping pets imprisoned in their homes on their own terms), it's really surprising to me that no one here is taking a step back and thinking about all the points you mentioned (the overall picture) without getting emotional or biased. I personally love animals, and in all honesty, I never gave this much thought but it only recently hit me. The "concept" of animal domestication is pretty much animal cruelty. Breeding animals for our own benefit & entertainment, and twisting them into these pathetic creatures that are 100% dependent on us is just so disturbing when I think of it now. Sure, domesticated dogs can't survive on their own, but we are the ones to blame for that.

Alex on November 21, 2014:

It is believed that dogs are descended from wolves who followed ancient humans and scavenged on their waste. Even if they were "freed," I suspect they would most likely stay close to human civilization and pick through our garbage. And if they turn to predation, I think it could do tremendous damage to local ecosystems. The domesticated dog does not fit into any natural food chain.

T.C. on November 18, 2014:

Sorry, can't agree.

Melissa A Smith (author) from New York on September 30, 2014:

Yes Frida, my dog is the white one in the picture, lol. That's an awesome picture! I think I will post the link here and share that when I get into arguments with the usual fools.

Frida Nyberg from Sweden on September 30, 2014:

Abolist-vegan - Did you read the disclaimer? This article is "satire", attempting to use the same arguments against dog ownership as people do against exotic pet ownership. The author has both exotics and at least one dog, as far as I'm aware.

To Melissa - I borrowed a couple of quotes and the idea when I made this picture today:

I've seen so much exotic pet-hate lately that I had to do it.

Abolist-vegan on September 19, 2014:

Right on, but author-lady get real. Humans are the most selfish creatures on the planet earth, and most first-worlders love their little companion-slaves. Arguing with them that they're keeping them in bondage, separating them from their families, and so forth, is INCREDIBLE TRUE but ineffective. No one is going to listen to you, they'll write you off as some animal-rights-extremist, and go back to blocking out the stuff they don't want to hear. They'll block out the crippling condition of pedigree dogs, they'll block out how long their dogs spend in their houses all day, they'll block out how puppies whine and cry when they're separated from their mothers and their litter mates, they'll block out how they leash their animals so they won't get away, they'll block out how millions of animals are killed in shelters because humans find them "useless", and they'll block out whatever they want to block out. Remember, these are the same fuckers who financially support farmers to kill baby cows so we can drink from their lactating mothers. Humans don't care, and they probably never will.

lol on September 06, 2014:

I can't tell if this is serious or not, dogs are domesticated, they have genes specifically created to live with humans. So we should basically throw our dogs into the wild and make them find their own companionship and food, along with being hunted by larger animals, sure

Melissa A Smith (author) from New York on August 20, 2014:

Wow, 1000 acres. Sounds great Dawn!

Dawn on August 19, 2014:

I think this is somewhat peculiar honestly. I mean, even if we banned having dogs as pets there would be a much greater problem with dogs spreading diseases and biting humans because they wouldn't have owners to vaccinate them or train them. If dogs weren't pets and were allowed to remain unfixed they would overpopulate, causing many to die from hunger, dogs establishing packs and threatening humans and livestock, and there would be too many dogs and eventually people would have to euthanize as many of these feral dogs as possible. I know that my dogs don't suffer to much xD I live on a 1000+ acre ranch and they run free, i have four dogs and they are close companions. They aren't caged of fenced up, so if they wanted to leave they could. But they do love me and their family so that is why they stay. I do respect and understand your opinion though, thank you for your time :)

Melissa A Smith (author) from New York on July 07, 2014:

Ash, that is a simplified sentence, but it does not apply to allowing people to outright kill animals in cruel ways. I certainly wasn't trying to advocate that any action resulting in an 'emotional response', such as beating a dog to death with a baseball bat, feeding live animals to snakes, dog fighting, or other forms of torture should be allowed in our society. If I want to keep a pet responsibly, that should be my right. It is not my right to directly torture, whether for food for myself or a pet. Unfortunately this needs to be spelled out for you.

Ash on July 07, 2014:

PETA is batshit nuts.

Also, please apply the "no one's emotional reactions should dictate what I do with my life/pets/etc" to your extremely emotional letter on prekilled vs. live prey.

Melissa A Smith (author) from New York on July 04, 2014:

Yes Astrid, I didn't know how to handle it, so I eventually stopped correcting people.

Astrid on July 04, 2014:

It's amazing how the comments demonstrate that almost NO ONE read the entire article!! Hah!!

naturalself1 on June 19, 2014:

A refreshing read. An honestly written article about about nonhuman beings in captivity. Thank you!

Melissa A Smith (author) from New York on June 04, 2014:

B. Halden-- I didn't say MY climate, I specifically said Venezuela, where his species is from. If you take a wild animal out of the wild as a baby and raise it in captivity, that animal will be highly unlikely to survive on its own, EVEN if you release it in the habitat it hails from. This is extremely common knowledge. This is why the more educated animal rights activists are not hoping to release SeaWorld's orcas into the ocean. On the other hand, a stray dog born outside of captivity has a better chance of survival in the 'wild'. Feral cats are technically domesticated but proliferate profusely, again, common knowledge. The notion that wild animals are better survivors than human-selected pets doesn't hold water, period. It's nature vs. nurture. It depends on what animals, what location, and how that animal is raised.

B. Halden on June 04, 2014:

Going back to your response, your wild bird won't survive in your city because it's a wild bird. Whatever climate you live in probably isn't the one it evolved to live in, so it will either starve to death or be killed by crows. This isn't the same for dogs, where they can't really survive in the wild anywhere because that's not what they've evolved to do.

Melissa A Smith (author) from New York on May 21, 2014:

Dog lover--for 'being against keeping dogs' or supporting exotic pet ownership?

Dog lover on May 21, 2014:

You, my dear, are Batshit crazy. The end.

Weis on the rocks on May 20, 2014:

I don't know how you do it Melissa. The patience you exhibit when confronted by blatant and incessant stupidity is worthy of sainthood. That or this site has strict rules and active mods. Most of these people who couldn't comprehend your article can vote - to me that's scarier than any exotic pet. They can reproduce as well...holy shit...

Melissa A Smith (author) from New York on May 20, 2014:

Lady Guinevere-- Are you being serious? Look at my avatar. LOOK at my articles.

Debra Allen from West Virginia on May 20, 2014:

Ahhh so you are one of those who thinks that no none should own a pet or an animal? I do not agree with that for the simple fact that you have never seen a pet that is truly happy being with humans. I am sorry about that. Have a good night.

Melissa A Smith (author) from New York on May 20, 2014:

Lady Guinevere-- Then you would know that the point of this article is to be pro-ALL pets.

Debra Allen from West Virginia on May 20, 2014:

So what are you proposing, that we let them all go free and no more intervention with their care???? BTW I did read your whole article...all the way down to the end. I simply disagree with you.

Melissa A Smith (author) from New York on May 20, 2014:

Lady Guinevere-- I don't think I can get through to you. Domesticated dogs did not exist before humans, that's virtually impossible. Please read this -entire- article, including the end.

Debra Allen from West Virginia on May 20, 2014:

Dogs and cats should not exist???? That is nonsense. They have existed a very long time before we even domesticated them.

Melissa A Smith (author) from New York on May 20, 2014:

Lady Guinevere-- You're missing the point. They 'shouldn't EXIST' in the first place.

Debra Allen from West Virginia on May 20, 2014:

I beg to differ too. Where are they all going to live if not domesticated? What is their source of food going to be? How are they going to be protected from things like ticks and other animals that will eat them. What are you going to do when their breeding takes over the cities and world eventually? Many do not and refuse to see that the "natural" way is also inhumane. Have you ever watch a coyote kill a cats or another dog? Is that humane to watch cats and dogs get killed and eaten for food as well. I just do not agree with your points.

Melissa A Smith (author) from New York on May 20, 2014:

George Abreu-- It just shows that there are different ways of looking at things.

George Abreu from Palm Beach, FL on May 20, 2014:

I mean I guess it isn't very ethical in my book, so in a large sense, I do agree with you. But with history down on the books, and evolution doing what it did (because we forced evolutions hand, breeding the least aggressive ones, and creating the domesticated dog we see now) to disown them completely, would also most likely kill them, so in laymen terms, I guess I would say that we made our bed, and now we have to sleep in it. While I do see your point completely, we as a species muddled the waters to much to fix it. BTW, I loved the article, I never thought of dogs (if not most pets) in that light

Melissa A Smith (author) from New York on May 20, 2014:

George Abreu-- Making animals dependent on us doesn't sound very ethical, does that sound right? Would you want that done to you?

Melissa A Smith (author) from New York on May 20, 2014:

Deathmonkey7 -- So instead of acknowledging your ignorance, you've done what 99% of my detractors do when I ask for evidence: do a quick Google search, probably with the phrase 'exotic pet trade bad for environment' and the like, and it always comes up with agenda-driven groups, with the most common being Born Free. Another highly typical occurrence with people like you is that you start arguing with me about how bad and dangerous exotic pets are, but when asked about your claims of species decline, you provide a bunch of links about PARROTS, which I'm sure is NOT what you had in mind with your initial complaint.

You've decided to let your links do the talking, and cannot provide the name of a single species, what a surprise. Your first link, generic BS with no real information. The second, Born Free of course, mentions only one specific species, stating captive breeding of Amazona oratrix has failed to help because : "This decline has continued despite the wide availability of captive-reared yellow-headed Amazons for pet purposes." Their logic used to claim that there is no evidence that captive breeding will lead to a decrease in animals being caught is unsurprisingly not used towards the idea that banning exotic pets will stop the already illegal practice of trapping the birds, and it certainly will do nothing to resolve their MORE SEVERE threats of habitat loss and purposeless killing:

"The species's population is estimated to be in very rapid decline, owing to habitat loss and degradation and levels of trapping and persecution."

They do not know what percentage, if any, makes it into the U.S. and this is important (to me) BECAUSE I want to know that if I'm forced to stop keeping pets on the pretense that it will stop wild species decline, will it? Or would it be due to the feel goodism of people who don't like the idea of people owning species while they face hardship in the wild? If I don't keep pets will locals stop catching and keeping pets? If giving up pet keeping will not HELP this cause then I certainly don't see why I would want to. People's feelings matter nothing to me.

"Animals taken from natural habitats for zoos"

Your link disproves what you said! This is what happens when you spout off assumptions to people who've actually done research.

George Abreu from Palm Beach, FL on May 20, 2014:

While I would understand your premise, if dogs never evolved from wolves. However, because we have domesticated the dog, they do not have the necessary instinct and predatory behavior they had as wolves. Making them unable to survive with humans. We have made dogs dependent on us.

Breck123 on May 20, 2014:

You stated that a large number of animals in zoos are taken from the wild, although you did say many are captive bred. The way you put it makes it look like the number of wild caught animals are almost equal to the number of captive bred ones. In reality, most of the animals in North American zoos are captive bred. Even if some confiscated illegal wild caught animals were sent to zoos, it would only be equal to a fraction of the number of captive bred animals in zoos.

Shawn Morris from Huntington, West Virginia on May 20, 2014:

How does that contradict anything I said?

Breck123 on May 20, 2014:

" The vast majority of creatures seen in zoos, were born in the zoo." That was taken from the link you supplied, Deathmonkey7.

Shawn Morris from Huntington, West Virginia on May 20, 2014:

Species in decline from pet trade:

Rare parrot species seem to suffer the worst, but reptiles, turtles, big cats and more are mentioned.

Animals taken from natural habitats for zoos:

An answer from a zoo keeper who interestingly specifically mentions some animals also being saved from illegal exotic pet trade. as I said, though, the ones from their habitats are largely in cases of their protection.

You may be right that there haven't been any deaths from apes.. yet. But it's not for a lack of trying. I know several people have been permanently disfigured from pet chimpanzees. As for other people killed by exotic pets:

I'm also curious why it has to be American exotic pet trade. It has the same detrimental effect no matter where it takes place.

Melissa A Smith (author) from New York on May 20, 2014:

I've decided that this doesn't really bother me.

Travis Wakeman on May 20, 2014:

Found it. People who scan your article might not though. Can I suggest a boldface title? There are a lot of people who still might not get the satire even after reading it all the way through...

Melissa A Smith (author) from New York on May 19, 2014:

Deathmonkey7-- You have no evidence to suggest that exotic animals cause more deaths in relation to their populations, you are just assuming. None of us know the real answer. I'm confused on why people with extremely little knowledge about these matters attempt to argue with me about this. You probably have no idea which animal species are 'protected but dwindling', or why. All threatened animals have their own complex reasons why their populations are decreasing or why people trap them. I'm tired of the generalizations. Everyone just assumes that it's the simple matter of eliminating exotic pets, and I can assure you that will do little or nothing to solve these problems.

" I think you'd find that they kill in a far lesser amount than deaths from most exotic animals such as apes"

Even if there were 3 'apes' in captivity, the percentage of deaths they caused would be 0%. Unless of course, you mean humans.

"Those from the wild are usually cases where they are saved from almost certain death"

Now you are just making things up as you go along. Show me some evidence for everything you're saying. I honestly don't know how people work up the nerve to assert vague assumptions to me when I'm obviously obsessed with this subject. It's insulting. Please tell me which species are in decline mainly from the American exotic pet trade. I do not want to hear about animals like slow lorises, which no one owns in this country, so we clearly aren't the cause. They are to my understanding mostly sold in their country of origin or exported illegally to Russia/Japan.

Melissa A Smith (author) from New York on May 19, 2014:

Travis Wakeman--I'm kidding in this article. Please read the rest.

Breck123 on May 19, 2014:

It appears I did miss that one part. And, if we are speaking in proportion, a large number of dog attacks happen on the public rather then the owner, while with exotics, the majority of attacks happen on the owner (who should know that there is a risk with certain animals), than the public.

Shawn Morris from Huntington, West Virginia on May 19, 2014:

@Breck123 - I guess you missed the part where I said "in proportion to the number of dogs that exist"

Meaning there are millions of dogs, but not many exotic animals, therefore it's only natural that you'll have more deaths by dog even if they're very rare.

Breck123 on May 19, 2014:

@ Deathmonkey7. I'm pretty sure that domestic dogs kill WAY more people then exotics. I'm pretty sure that there is even a hub about this.

Shawn Morris from Huntington, West Virginia on May 19, 2014:

Melissa Smith - There is a huge market for animals for the exotic pet market. Even those that are "protected" are dwindling in the wild because of illegal trapping. Cats may have an instinct to kill, but in the case of domesticated cats they don't have the capability to kill people unless perhaps they are small infants. And a very large number of animals kept in zoos are in fact from the wild, though many of them are also captive-bred. Those from the wild are usually cases where they are saved from almost certain death, though.

In the case of exotic pets, I'm not necessarily against all exotic pets. For instance, smaller rodents of an exotic nature are perfectly fine, in my opinion. And while it may be true that some dogs do kill, in proportion to the number of dogs that exist I think you'd find that they kill in a far lesser amount than deaths from most exotic animals such as apes, tigers, lions, and other larger predators.

Those are largely the exotic animals I'm against captivity of, though I am against others to an extent.

Travis Wakeman on May 19, 2014:

What do you think about dog owners who take great care of their dogs and give them a great life though? From your article title it seems like you are against all dog ownership whatsoever.

Melissa A Smith (author) from New York on May 19, 2014:

Deathmonkey7-- Of course there's a major difference between dogs and most exotic animals. There's also a major difference between dogs and most domesticated animals. Cats are one domesticated animal with a strong instinct to kill, but so are some dogs. Some exotic animals have no instinct to kill, like zebras, capybaras, and even hand-raised bobcats:

'Special breeding' is highly irrelevant. Every dog that has ever killed a person has been 'specially bred'. Furthermore, the only exotic animals that are regularly removed from the wild for the pet trade in the U.S. are fish and reptiles. It just doesn't make sense in most cases to capture wild animals as pets, with the exception of those listed and birds, however it is illegal with birds. Nearly most or all exotic mammals you see in captivity, whether in a zoo or as a pet, are captive-bred.

See how this isn't as easy as you thought it would be?

Shawn Morris from Huntington, West Virginia on May 19, 2014:

There's a major difference between domestic dogs and most exotic animals. Most exotic animals still have a strong instinct to kill, and have no special breeding for human companionship. Not only that, but many exotic animals are directly taken from their natural habitats whereas domestic dogs have no natural habitat.

Melissa A Smith (author) from New York on May 19, 2014:

Anonymous Confused Poster--Doberman pinschers go through tail docking and ear cropping. Schipperkes have their tails removed. So do rottweilers. Those are the ones I can think of off the top of my head.

Melissa A Smith (author) from New York on May 19, 2014:

"you only elaborate on abuses that some dogs experience under some owners"

Exactly. This article is meant to show the same logic that people apply to owners of exotic pets. You can guarantee 100% that if an abused pet kangaroo is found somewhere, all exotic pet owners will be criticized.

Anonymous Confused Poster on May 19, 2014:

Excuse me... but as a long time dog lover and trainer... WHAT ON EARTH IS SHE TALKING ABOUT WHEN SHE STATES "some breeds are even forced to go through surgery to alter their appearance"???


Melissa A Smith (author) from New York on May 19, 2014:

Hi Deathmonkey7, I don't really think it's wrong to keep dogs as pets, I'm making a statement against people who think it's wrong to keep other animals as pets. But dogs ARE in captivity, many are loyal captives, but that doesn't change anything. They have limited freedom that they must tolerate. Should a dog want to run out, they are not given that choice. My dog when younger would run away often if she successfully wormed her way past an exciting person. My dog is unique from others dogs probably because she expresses less of the traits that more 'loyal' dogs do, that are similar to some wild animals. She has a 'cat-like' way of ignoring my commands when she is more enticed by something else (food, chance to run outside).

Travis Wakeman on May 19, 2014:

I'm just curious, if this is what you think of the ethics of keeps a dog as a pet, what is your view on cats?

Overall the title seems like it doesn't quite suit the article. I get the sense from the title that all dog ownership is bad, and yet from this article you only elaborate on abuses that some dogs experience under some owners.

Shawn Morris from Huntington, West Virginia on May 19, 2014:

Sorry, but I strongly disagree with this article. Dogs are no longer anything like the wild wolves. They were bred over time for the sole purpose of being companions. They've had thousands of years of selective breeding. Most of their wild instincts are either gone or suppressed.

Go ahead, go to someones home and let their dog out. Hell, I've kept a lot of my dogs outside so they would be free to roam and I've never had a dog run away. They stay because they feel that they are part of my family just as I feel they are. There's no "captivity" involved. A domesticated dogs instinct is to crave human attention.

It is true that at one point wild animals had to be captured and held against their will in order for modern dogs to exist, but that was thousands of years ago.

One thing I will agree with you on is the breeding of "pure" breeds. It causes birth defects and health problems and is generally a bad practice.

Melissa A Smith (author) from New York on May 19, 2014:

OLI--what does that have to do with this article?

OLI on May 19, 2014:

Melissa A Smith (author) from New York on May 05, 2014:

If you don't know why people would want one I guess you'll never know. I don't understand how people can be so interested in sports, cars, and celebrities.

Tevo77777 on May 05, 2014:

Well, then I guess my reaction was not quite what was expected.

I never really understood why people keep deadly snakes however. I'm aware snakes aren't very smart and don't have much of a reaction to their holding pens, but what do you get out of owning that kind of snake exactly?

I mean, if you had a pet wolf trained not to maul people then you could watch it run around or whatever it would do, but do snakes do anything exciting? I mean my rabbit is in a cage part of the day, is held for a bit, and twice a week gets to run around for hours. My rabbit however reacts to me, makes noises when I give it certain foods, and reacts to who picks it up.

I don't think snakes are quite like that.

Melissa A Smith (author) from New York on May 05, 2014:

Because that's the point of it, to have dog owners experience what I experience with my exotic pets. It supposed to annoy and enrage; "who could call ME cruel for caring for a dog! My dog is well-cared for and happy!" People get to label exotic pet owners and enjoy universal acceptance with their pets.

Tevo77777 on May 05, 2014:

I'm used to boys and girls with names that don't match their gender.

As for the rest of it, I didn't notice the very bottom of the content and I sorta just spaced out as I read it. Why exactly is this content here and posed so...IDK misleading in that it seems to be what you think till that little bit at the bottom?

Melissa A Smith (author) from New York on May 05, 2014:

Tevo77777-- If you read this whole article you wouldn't have written such a smart-alecky comment. How many 'dudes' do you know named Melissa?

Tevo77777 on May 05, 2014:


It's dude right, I'm kinda just guessing by flipping a coin here. (Insert proper pro-noun), I'm very confused by this message right here. Just bear with me for a second.

"Hello, my name is Meliss A Smith and I think zoos are fine, here is evidence why."

"Oh...This makes sense."

"Also here is a long list of reasons why dolphins are not perfect."

"I had a feeling they were up to no good."

"Did I mention that I collect exotic animals."


"I think dogs shouldn't be pets, it's wrong."

"Wait....Why do you own exotics then? You just told me zoos were fine and they are filled with wild animals not used to humans. After all this you tell me that dogs, who have lived with humans for years and are so dependent on us they can't last very long in the wild....Y-You say they shouldn't be pets?"

"Yes, they shouldn't be pets, I have lots of information on this and even you know a lot of it makes sense."

"Well then what would they eat in the wild? How would they avoid predators? Are they strong enough and fit enough to make it out there? Do you know how many coyotes and wolves love to eat dogs?"

I don't like to put words into peoples mouths or appear to be when I am not, but this is kinda what I'm seeing by reading what I read so far today. I'm very confused and as your statements don't stick to the same bias....It's making me ask why.

Could you explain yourself? Am I crazy for thinking this? Would some explanations explain why zoos are okay and pet dogs are bad...I mean you've already proven your debate skills before and we all know you can find information to prove your point.

Priscilla on April 22, 2014:

I agree that all animals can be free. But domesticed dogs or pets can barely survive in the wild at this point. SO in the end the best thing we can do is stop breeding and continue to support adoption and give these animals the best we can.

Melissa A Smith (author) from New York on April 22, 2014:

Do you think it is?

Steve on April 22, 2014:

Hi, I'm dad-against animal cruelty, but please accept many of us consider the environment before we buy a dog, I live next to a park and woodland, work at home, allow him to range around the whole house and gardens, and we have a lot of dogs in our neighbourhood my dog meets daily. He also runs off-leash in wild places for at least 90 minutes every day. We feed him v well and he is a very healthy happy dog. Are you saying this is cruel?

Pharmd646 on April 20, 2014:

I am not sure where you are getting your info, but great topic. I needs to spend some time learning much more or understanding more. Thanks for fantastic information I was looking for this info for my mission. dgdeedk

Melissa A Smith (author) from New York on April 09, 2014:

Thanks Harper, PA is hell from what I hear. Glad you understood the article. Some thought I was serious and commended me. I had no words for them. I'm afraid that's where we're headed.

Harper G on April 09, 2014:

Good article. I was taken in for a bit, but I managed to read all the way through & was pleasantly surprised.

I live in Pennsylvania, which has even more restrictive "exotic pet" bans than most of the US. For instance, ferrets (de-scented & fixed) are considered "exotic pets" & are therefore illegal.

Sadly, there are entire websites full of people who would actually agree with the satirical part of your article. (Though those people usually make the "dogs are unnatural" claims, usually while simultaneously promoting cat ownership - with no sense of irony.)

I'm glad to see someone turn the exotic-ban argument around on those who use it; maybe the pet-killing hypocrites at PETA's main office will see it & stop using their tired rhetoric.

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