Animal Writes
From 16 January 2005 Issue

DawnWatch: Delightful Column Slams Those Who Say We Treat Animals Better Than People

On Tuesday, San Francisco's Board of Supervisors passed an ordinance that requires "humane treatment of all companion dogs." The requirements are loose. A dog's water must be in non-tipping bowl and changed every day, food must be palatable and nutritious; and dog houses must have tops, floors, and at least three sides each. Tethering is "highly discouraged."

Yet some complained, suggesting the law was frivolous and that dogs are treated better in San Francisco than homeless people. Today, Friday, January 14, in his column "Notes & Errata," which appears twice per week on the San Francisco Gate website (associated with the San Francisco Chronicle) Mark Morford took on the complainants. His column is funny, even charming, but packs a punch.

I won't send out the whole column, since it is likely that hits to the web page are counted, so it is better for Morford if you read it on line. But I will share a few lines and strongly recommend you read the whole piece at:  OR AT 

He opens with a rant against those who pursue PC language such as calling people "guardians" rather than "owners" of their companion animals, and against over-pampering "pets" and treating them as if they are members of our own species. But then he changes track, writing

"There are issues of pet treatment and animal care that are vital and urgent and necessary, that speak to our moral fiber and emotional core and our ability to have compassion and love and a sense of humane decency and passable kibble."

To the suggestion that animals are being treated better than people, he responds, "Oh please." He notes that we kill five million "pets" per year, and writes eloquently of their dependence on us:

"Abused, abandoned, sick, too large too small too loud too furry too unstable too slobbery, unwanted for a thousand different reasons, bred for fighting or for aggression and therefore unadoptable once they've been dumped by their brutal and small-minded owners, or they're diseased and left tied to trees and malnourished and beaten with chains. And each one, unlike humans, completely innocent of its domestic circumstances, and completely powerless to change them."

"Five million. That's about 14,000 animals put to death every day. Or 600 every hour. Ten animals every minute. Go ahead. Pause right here. Wait one minute. There you go, 10 more dead pets."

And he broaches larger animal rights issues:

"It's a large and increasingly important issue, floating over our wildly pet-lovin' culture like a giant question mark: What do our animals deserve? What are their true rights? What constitutes humane or decent treatment in the face of a culture that casually kills millions of unwanted pets every year and openly massacres billions more animals for food and doesn't blink an eye?

"And what infinitesimal steps, more broadly speaking, can we as a species take to maybe just slightly lighten the load of massive destruction we heap upon the animal kingdom in general and pets and/or food animals specifically?"

I urge you to read the whole amusing but stinging piece at: 

And there is a link on that page where you can send Morford an appreciative note.

I send a huge thank you to Eric Mills and Karen Benzel for making sure we saw this piece.

Yours and the animals',
Karen Dawn

(DawnWatch is an animal advocacy media watch that looks at animal issues in the media and facilitates one-click responses to the relevant media outlets. You can learn more about it, and sign up for alerts at  To unsubscribe, go to  If you forward or reprint DawnWatch alerts, please do so unedited -- leave DawnWatch in the title and include this tag line.)

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