Dogs Aren't Human—But They're Close

Their rise raises the question: What rights does a dog have?
By Harry Kimball,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 25, 2010 2:54 PM CST
A woman and her Shetland Sheepdog at a dog show.   (AP Photo)
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(Newser) – When your dog's “soulful eyes” watch you, trying to discern your needs, it’s easy to forget the animal is not your child or your “wing man,” John Homans writes. Dogs have moved off the farm and into our homes, where they eat gourmet diets, relax in luxury kennels, and essentially become honorary humans. "When the dog was in the yard, it was easier to give the dog any old thing, treat the dog any old way," Homans observes. And he wonders: What rights does a dog have?

Feuding breeders and activists are enmeshed in the debate, which amounts to “a struggle for the Future of Dog—a little like Russia in 1917, with weakened conservatives and radicals of many stripes, all trying desperately to invent a future,” Homans writes for New York. The fact remains that the city dog, and increasingly the suburban dog, is loved and cherished, but adrift. "There’s no suffering, sure—but what else is there? No sheep to herd or birds to hunt or sleds to pull. Nothing to manifest the excellence of their character."

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