Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Banning circus animals

Banning the use of live animals in circuses is good news - but the fact that these animals in Bolivia have nowhere to go after, isn't. You know the old adage - be careful what you ask for, you might get it. It's a tough question - where do these animals go? On the other hand, it does mean no more animals will be put into circuses again. Is it better to have short term suffering and spare many more animals the harm of being put in a circus later on?


Brad Farless said...

The more you learn, the uglier the world becomes...

Anonymous said...

Thus we all must know how to adopt longer term and fundamental solutions. This can be said with the pet animals sold at petshops...banning simply can't solve the problem overnight as pet animals have been in the chain of economic cycle.

Dawn said...

Or for example cases of hoarding as well.

I think sometimes we have to look at the bigger picture too - ie not at the individual animals, however sad their case is - and to see how many animals will be affected in the long run.

I do think that at least stopping the sale of animals will mean that fewer animals will be introduced though - or at least make it so prohibitively expensive that people will think twice or thrice. Even if not an outright ban right away, how about a tax?

Brad Farless said...

I think stopping the sale of animals as pets wil be a hard goal to reach. There is always going to be a market for pedigree dogs and cats. There's a whole industry built around it. The animals are quite expensive already. Probably more so here in Singapore than in the US. I'm surprised there isn't a luxury tax associated with it already.

Dawn said...

Actually I am too Brad - but a tax would certainly at the very least cut down the number of people buying pedigrees. How about a Certificate of Entitlement to own a pedigree? :)

Brad Farless said...

I'm curious... how did it go from circus animals to buying animals at a pet store? Seems a bit weird.

Another thing I wanted to mention though is that people may want animals that aren't local to their area as pets. There aren't strays everywhere in the world, or even animal shelters everywhere in the world. Banning the selling of pets... well other than creating a massive rupture in the world economy... would reduce the number of potential pet owners as well. That means more animals dying in the open. Of course they belong in the open, but after generations they've come to depend on humans quite a bit.

Dawn said...

If I understood Anonymous clearly, it was about how good intentions don't always translate to the outcome we want.

Brad - I'm a little confused by your argument. If there are animals in the open, then aren't these strays/community cats? How does banning the sale of animals therefore translate to more animals dying in the open? Arguably, by banning the sale of animals, than MORE animals get adopted.

Also, I am hard pressed to think of areas where there are no shelters/community animals, with the possible exception of Tokyo. In almost every other country, there are animals wandering the streets that need homes.

Brad Farless said...

Here's what I meant, explained better:

Most animals are available for becoming pets because they come out of breeding facilities. Shelters don't really have the funds to house large amounts of animals and become a sort of non-official pet center for everyone in the area. It would cost too much. Also, most shelters are small compared to the areas they service. So rather than try to set up breeding programs they would just sterilize, adopt out, or put down the way they do now.

The dispersal of all "for sale" animals from breeding facilities would create a short-term surplus that would quickly dwindle due to natural death and starvation due to overpopulation. That is, if they weren't exterminated en masse to dispose of them.

In the long-term the number of animals would steadily decline due to adoption and sterilization. If your only source of pets are strays and shelters then eventually there would not be enough to go around, because there would be no dedicated breeders, as there wouldn't be any profit in it.

Most people would get their pet sterilized out of a desire to not have to pay for the expenses associated with a litter, as well as the overall health of the animal. Most people, even those that used to get pedigreed animals, will continue to want to own pets, which means that the well would run dry. It would contribute to a decline in the animal population. Perhaps below the level that's safe.

Of course, there's the chance it could go the other way. People who would normally house a pedigreed animal may refuse to house a cross-breed and it would create a new population of strays, which would then be rounded up and put down by overcrowded shelters.

This model might not work in Singapore, because ... for reasons I can't fathom... there are just so many strays here. Cats mostly. Nowhere else I've lived have I seen so many stray cats. I lived in a town in Georgia for 6 years and saw 1 stray that I can remember. Same for 4 years in Germany. I saw 2 in NYC over a cumulative 3 years. So, depending on where you are in the world, the stoppage of pet stores might completely cut off people from pets.

It's odd but I just think there are more stray cats and dogs in Asia than other parts of the world where I've lived. In Singapore I suppose it would be quite possible to supply every home with at least one cat that's just picked up from outside or from the shelter and still have a sizeable, actively breeding population running loose to use for the next generation of pets. Not so in most other places.

So, while it might not amount to much here in Singapore, stopping all breeding and selling of animals might have a long-term detrimental affect on the overall population in other areas. Plus, it'll probably just create a black market for pedigreed animals. Or, like I said, depending on where you live, a black market for any dog or cat.

It's hard to guess at all the things that could happen, but overall I think it would put a lot more cats and dogs at risk, both in the short term and long term.

Dawn said...

Brad - I don't agree that most pets come from breeding facilities. Most breeding facilities (unless we're talking puppy mills) are much smaller than shelters in the area. You are far more likely to be able to pick up a cat, or adopt one from a shelter. I was just at a Petsmart yesterday and there were eight adorable cats up for adoption. A little girl next to me said to her mother that one of the cats had been there since it was a kitten - and now it was almost fully grown. So it's not that people are not able to get their pets from shelters/through adoption.

Here's the other thing - we've not seen a huge decrease in the population of animals through adoption and sterilisation as it is. I don't see it happening anytime in the immediate future. If for some reason, the numbers do drop drastically, then people would, and could, stop sterilising their animals.

If there is a demand for cats, because so many cats have been sterilised and hence there are not enough cats around, then I think people would find that the litters the mother cats are having would quickly be adopted, thus resulting in really minimal costs. In fact, we already see that people are making money from breeding pedigree dogs and cats - and that is with a surplus of animals (both pedigree and non-pedigree) to go around now.

In Guernsey for example, which is a tiny island and unlikely to be replicated elsewhere, they found that sterilisation brought the number of cats down dramatically. As a result, people who wanted to adopt cats found that there weren't cats there to adopt. People were thus encouraged to let their cats breed just once - and of course, shelters in England quickly took up the slack and sent their cats over.

I think a lot of people mistake the fact that advocates of sterilisation want to sterilise all animals and that the animals will eventually all die out. We're a long way from that happening. Plus, it's always reversible - if the number drops to a certain level, then sterilisation can always stop. Caregivers would certainly be happy to do that because really no one enjoys the trapping and sterilising.

The problem with animals from breeders is that because people want a 'pedigree' animal, they tend to buy one from a breeder. The end result is twofold. One, another animal (either pedigree or not) that needs a home is not adopted. Two, as we've seen, being a pedigree animal that is bought is no guarantee that it's not going to end up abandoned on the street (or in a shelter).

Animals are born from (1) community cats (2) owners who don't sterilise and (3) breeders. By stopping ANY (or all) of these sources, we help to bring the population down. That's the only way we can hope to achieve the goal of homes for most rehomeable animals.

As for animals overseas, I have to say that it's often a case of them not being seen. Feral cats for example, are notoriously shy. It's estimated that there are as many as 40 million feral and stray cats in the United States. I know for sure that there are community cat programmes in NYC and in Georgia.

Often asking around will make you realise that there are cats in the vicinity. I didn't think there were cats in my area as I haven't seen more than one, but after asking around, I found that there were several (including a home which apparently has a large number of unsterilised cats - which I am still trying to find).

Brad Farless said...

I bow to your superior cat wisdom. ^_^

Those are all very good points.

Dawn said...

Haha - thanks :)

Singapore Community Cats said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Singapore Community Cats said...

I too have had friends questioning if our sterilisation program meant the cats would be extinct.

We have been "aggressively" applying TnRm in our neighbourhood and yet the number is no where near zero.

I read a report of a drop of strays someewhere in New York I think, that "excess" strays were brought in from elsewhere to fill the "vacuum".

I hope to live to the day when I could see this happening in Singapore - so effective TnRn in one estate that cats from "hot" spots can be transferred.

If the witch-hunt in Europe couldnot wipe out the cats, our TnRN cannot either.

Anonymous said...

Brad - As a caregiver for more than 5 years, I truly understand the importance of TNRM. Responsible caregivers will definitely sterilise their community cats as most of our Singaporeans have very low tolerance. Sterilisation and responsible feeding are my trump cards when dealing with complaints. I also thank God that my area is blessed with a understanding Property Officer.

Singpaore Community Cats - I fully agree with you. We have also been aggressively practising TNRM in my area. Our cats population has increased instead due to ABANDONMENT and free roaming pet cats.

We still have a long way to go.


Anonymous said...

Always say "NO" to circus with performing animals. Do not pay to get fortune told by cute birds in tiny cages.

Dawn said...

Singapore Community Cats and Shirley - kudos again to both of you for practising TNRM, and as you said, we have a long way to go.

Anonymous - yes, that's the best thing we can do in the interim - let our pockets speak for us. If there is no economic incentive, then these acts will also end.