Wednesday, July 06, 2005

Are pets our slaves and amusement?

Recently, someone in the SDU online forum asked me this question: If you really think for animals, what would be the basis for you to enslave them as pets? To keep them in captivity for your amusement?

My reply:
I do not see my 4 hamsters as slaves but our babies who are dependent on us as caregivers. They have been adopted from friends and SPCA. Mum and I clean their houses and feed them a few times a day and they have us and toys to play with. With almost 10 years of experience in caring for hamsters, I have learned how to sex them, tame them, know when they are sick or dying and cried when they died and most of them lived to their expected lifespan of 3 years. If surgery could remove tumour from my hamster and she could live healthily, I would spend that money. Having a hamster as a pet is not for our amusement but it's a commitment and a love for these furry creatures.

If all pets can be released in the wild and not impact on the ecosystem, there won't be SPCA, Cat Welfare Society and Action for Singapore Dogs. However, pets like hamsters, rabbits, cats and dogs have been domesticated by man for a long time and most of them can't survive in the wild. And some irresponsible owners abandoned their pets when they get sick of them.For a week in June, I learned to nurse a young baby mynah bird until it learned how to fly. It wasn't easy and we had to feed the baby every hour. I named it Dharma and it was so manja and wanted us to sayang it. But Dharma belonged to the wild. I encouraged it to practise flying from its temporary "nest" to me. Finally when we brought it to the park downstair, Dharma flew away to the sky.

Recently I have also fallen in love with some of the stray cats in my area but with hamsters @ home and being away from home most of the time, I could not give the cats a home and the attention. I have learnt a lot from my furry friends about life, myself, humility and I like to think this has made me a better person. This is something that I don't get from our school education system. Interesting topic and long winded me could go on forever because I have been exploring animal welfare issue with friends and family, reading Dawn's blog on her work in Cat Welfare Society and blogging on behalf of my hamsters, Dharma and cats.


BAM said...

despite being a pet owner myself many times over, I am aware of the animal rights argument on keeping pets. Personally I feel it's a grey area because animals can't talk to express their desires. However, I do not keep birds as I feel that caging them is like cutting off an animal's legs. But perhaps that is also not being objective as we also keep hamsters in cages.

Guttercat said...

I think 'companion animals' would be a more appropriate term as compared to 'pets', & it conveys the impression of equal status as well.

Somewhat like you said, it's a question of quality of life - would they be better off living with us or in the wild?

My friend Alice (a video of her Boy-Boy can be seen on Dawn's blog keeps fishes, hamsters, & a bucketload of felines in purrfect harmony (the hamsters & felines were all adopted. She used to keep abandoned chihuahuas with physical disabilities, but switched to cats after all of them passed away, deciding that felines were heck of a lot easier to take care of), so it shouldn't be that much of an issue mixing the two species... so long as the cage is properly secured.

Haha, I used to keep hamsters as well. One time when I brought a stray up to have his meal, he went straight for the hamster cage, causing mass hysteria until I dragged him away.

Patrick said...

I am sure if you were given a choice to be "cared for" and live as someone's pet you would choose to be free, just like all other animals. Open the cage door and your house door and lets see how long your pets will stay.