Good questions, Ashtar, although I’ll prolly get my head bitten off by the pet owners for opening my big yap hole.
Animal motives. . .
A problem arises when, humans take animals and domesticate them and train them to go against their instincts. I think it is instinctive for some animals to hunt (cats and dogs), sometimes for food sometimes for sport. When I was little our next door neighbors had a few big dogs that totally killed a bunch of kittens we had. I don’t think they were prolly trying to kill them, they were just playing too hard and broke their necks. They didnt eat them, so they prolly weren’t starving. So, my guess is either it was instinctive of the dogs to catch small animals and kill them or they were taught this activity through playing with their owners. I’m more inclined to think it was instinctive because I’ve seen so many dogs do that grab a toy and thrash their head from side to side thing, which would easily break a kitten’s neck. I don’t think we can really get mad or punish animals for doing something instinctive for them.
Next training. . .
People try to train an animal not to do these things. They will train a dog not to pee on the carpet. Pretty easy. They will train a dog not to bark. I find this mildly annoying. A dog barks. They bark at animals, cars, people whatever. Trying to train them not to bark is going against their natural instincts. I dont like this. I think it is understandible when an animal gets confused by signals from his instincts and signals from his owner.
The responsibility. . .
But there are occasionally instances when one persons pet will hurt another persons pet, or a person. Whats to be done? It is far more serious, IMHO, when a pet hurts another human. No matter who the animal harms, I dont think the animal should be punished, because they are either under the forces of human teaching or natural instincts. If the actions were human taught, the human should be punished.
I guess, my problem is that I dont think animals can be held ethically accountable. I don’t think they have the ability to distinguish between right and wrong. They do have the ability to be trained, for better or worse. But when they go against that training, I don’t really think they should be punished because they are operating under the forces of instinct.
Grrrr. I guess this is really a rant. When it all comes down to it, I wish animals weren’t trained or domesticated at all. But no one else thinks this so I’ll shut up now.