Utopian Visions and Pragmatic Politics: Challenging the Foundations of Speciesism and Misothery
Americans share their homes and, in many cases, their lives with 57 million cats, 52.5 million dogs, 45 million fish, 12 million caged birds, and untold numbers of hamsters, gerbils, snakes, guinea pigs, iguanas, and other assorted animals. In 1993 Americans spent $2.9 billion on pet supplies and accessories (Packaged Facts, 1994). Yet despite this devotion to companion animals, their frequent mistreatment in their homes and the relentless exploitation of animals in commercial enterprises — not to mention people’s willingness to feed on some species while fawning over others — reveals an ambivalence in America’s attitude toward animals. Thus, the American Humane Association (1992) reports that roughly 12 million unwanted cats and dogs are euthanized annually. According to various government and industry sources, 93 million pigs were slaughtered for consumption in the United States in 1993, as were 33.3 million steers, heifers, calves, and dairy and beef cows; 5.2 million sheep and lambs; and 7 billion chickens. An additional 20 million animals, by conservative estimate, are sacrificed annually in research laboratories (Stephens, 1994). Moreover, countless other animals suffer and die in zoos and roadside animal displays, in the hunting fields, circuses, rodeos, classrooms, marine mammal exhibitions, various forms of ‘entertainment’, and in a myriad of other uses. Even ‘purebred’ dogs, arguably the apotheosis of America’s fascination with animals, are subject to more than 300 genetically transmitted abnormalities.
KeywordsNonhuman Animal Animal Suffering Animal Liberation Independent Medium Animal Exploitation
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