Should cats & dogs be treated differently from rats if they are nuisance animals?

Many people who are very protective of cats or dogs do not extend that feeling of protection to rats, and will often not protest the trapping and killing of rats as nuisance animals by property owners.

If we have a rural property far out in the country and the farmer has a pack of dogs or cats making (in whatever way) a significant nuisance of themselves, is he fully morally and ethically entitled to exterminate the cats and dogs as they would a rat in the city, or is there a bright line dividing the morality of doing this to cat or dog vs a rat?

Thirty years or so ago when I lived in Scotland, my dog and I would pass through a local farm to get to the beach on the Irish Sea. I was warned that I needed to have complete control of my dog (a mutt with strong herding instincts) because local farmers would not hesitate to kill any dog they saw harassing their sheep. This horrified me because I could vividly imagine what it would be like to have my dog killed. At the same time, I understood the farmers’ need to protect their livestock. Needless to say, I made sure Barney was at heel from the time we left the road until we set foot on the beach.

So yeah, I think he is entitled to destroy the animals. However, I also think he’s an asshole if he doesn’t first make an attempt to contact the owner of the animals.

I think the morality is whether the animals in question are someone’s pets. I have had both rats and mice as pets, and I wouldn’t have looked kindly on anyone killing my pets. Of course they were always kept caged so there was no chance of anyone doing that (with the possibly exception of another of my pets, to wit, my cat, who thought about it pretty much all the time).

Nuisance animals who are interfering with one’s livelihood can be dealt with, usually, but the first thing would be to ask their owners to be responsible.

If you have a barn full of cats and they are a nuisance, yeah, you can get rid of them.

It was a little unclear whether you were talking about a farmer whose animals were a nuisance to you, or whether you ARE the farmer in question.

A farmer should protect his property from animals, and that includes feral cats and dogs. I would assume any competent farmer would be able to distinguish between a feral animal and a pet, as they behave in drastically different manners.

You are correct I was unclear re that. I’m talking about a farmer who is dealing with nuisance animals coming on his property.

Do you know how much damage a dog can do to small livestock?

Especially if the owner has been working for decades on a breeding program? You can’t just pop down to the store and buy another ewe with the same genetics. And let me tell you, the courts are not going to value the genetics you have even if it’s the last near relative of a wonderful line of animals.

So, yes, the farmer has every right to kill a dog the VERY FIRST time that he sees the dog chasing his animals. And he is not an ‘asshole’ for not waiting till the dog actually runs one to death or attacks and kills them.

I have a Jack Russel Terrier, any rat or rodent that can survive her is welcome to stay, but I guarantee you that she will hound that animal every single day until it leaves or she gets it.

In my county, if there are stray animals on the farm chasing livestock (including chickens, etc), then I’m entitled to kill the animal for no other reason than the fact that it was chasing livestock.

I’m fortunate that between coyotes and my JRT, the stray cats are kept to a minimum. My neighbor is real big on turning unaltered cats loose to just breed like crazy. My dog takes care of all of them. There are two cats that belong here (as in neutered, kept UTD on shots, etc) all others get either run out or killed. Some cat people may think that’s mean, but you haven’t seen the sickly kittens that these animals have. When I find them, I feel like dumping them all right back on my neighbor’s porch. Unfortunately, I usually find their starved out carcasses in my hay and that ruins a couple hundred pound of hay each time.

I’ll say up front I am a cat lover, but that really doesn’t have much bearing on what I have to say.

Feral dogs can be dangerous. They often have no fear of man and will prey on anything they can catch. Compounding this, they often form packs which increases the problem. After making very sure the dogs aren’t someone’s pets, I would recommend getting rid of them. Don’t use poison; it’s not selective and will poison anything.

Feral cats, on the other hand, can if sterilized be beneficial to a farm. One of the things I did when I worked feral cat trap-neuter-release was provide cats to local farms that wanted pesticide free rodent control. Even if the cats aren’t superb mousers the mere presence of cats can be a deterrent to rodents. You might want to see if there is a feral cat TNR group in your area; your local shelter might be able to direct you to one. We worked for donations and would come out, trap the cats, have them sterilized and give them their shots, including a five year rabies vaccination.

The threat of rabies is another reason to not have feral animals around.

I have shot and killed loose dogs on my property, chasing our cows. And had no compunction about not contacting the owners, if they had them, before shooting them. We’ve had dogs kill calves. And I have tracked down the dogs owners to be compensated for the damage.