It’s Time for Animal Welfare Organizations to Value Dogs Over Corporations

11
May, 2018

It’s a common thing for people in animal welfare to speak out about breed-discriminatory policies, whether they be at the county or state level, or even housing restrictions. Yet, people largely remain silent when it comes to companies with discriminatory policies.

In fact, many animal welfare organizations routinely partner and promote such businesses. That has to stop.

We all need to ask ourselves if justice matters more than a business deal.

The silence surrounding United Airlines’ latest banned “breed” list is deafening. While individual animal welfare workers have spoken out, organizations as a whole have not. Many are actively supporting United’s business – which means they either condone or don’t care about doing what’s right.

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Here’s what we know

United Airlines’ list includes nearly 50 “breeds,” as well as any mix thereof.

Some of the breeds were included for health reasons, as brachycephalic (stubby nosed) dogs overheat easily and already suffer from breathing issues. The airline is also halting pet reservations to some locations during the summer months due to high-temperature risks. We can’t throw any shade on them for science-based policies designed to protect pets.

Dogs United refers to as “strong-jawed” make the list. There is no scientific basis to refer to a dog as “strong-jawed.” This is based on the myth that some dogs bite differently. It’s been debunked. The use of the term and the inclusion of dogs based on the idea are discriminatory.

Many of the supposed breeds on the list don’t actually exist.

We all need to ask ourselves if justice matters more than a business deal.

Here’s what we don’t know

Who determines the breed or breed mix of someone’s dog? Many people don’t know their dog’s heritage. Does United administer genetic testing? Even if they did, it doesn’t change the fact that “strong-jawed dogs” aren’t a thing. Plus, how can they determine that a dog falls under one of the breeds on the list when said breed isn’t considered real?

We’re confused and we bet a lot of United customers will be equally confused and denied access.

Here’s Something else we know

Animal welfare organizations are supporting fake science and discriminatory policies.

The Humane Society of the United States names United as their airline of choice for their Animal Care Expo. For 10% off, you too can support discrimination against dog owners! Then you can attend a conference where people talk about animal welfare, including the science that all dogs are individuals and that how breed or breed mix doesn’t make a dog inherently dangerous.

Again, we’re confused. How does HSUS reconcile these opposing views? Who knows! They’ve yet to make a public statement on their partnership with a discriminatory company.

We know that as animal welfare workers your funds are probably limited. A 10% discount on your flight might make a difference in whether or not you can attend a conference. But HSUS has a choice. Right now, they’re choosing to support injustice.

We also know that American Humane is working with the airline on creating healthier travel regulations for pets. This is a good thing. What’s not a good thing is that it’s crickets from American Humane when it comes to the banning of dogs based on stereotypes. Does their advocacy end at protecting the wellness of brachycephalic dogs? Based on their lack of response, it doesn’t include equality for all dogs and their owners.

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To be trite, we have to talk the talk and walk the walk.
It’s not enough for individual animal welfare workers to stand up to the injustice of breed-discriminatory policies. Animal welfare organizations must do it, too. It’s not enough to throw out general statements about how discrimination is wrong and not based in fact. We have to address specific instances. That’s the only way change happens. As stewards of animal welfare and keeping pets with their families, it’s literally our job to challenge these bullshit restrictions.

Let’s all do better. Stand up. Speak up.

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