I recall having a short winter course in veterinary school entitled “Human-Animal Relationships” and learning about the multitude of ways in which people interact with animals—be they house pets, wildlife, laboratory test animals, or farm animals. I recall exploring with my classmates the nuances of the Five Freedoms, the differences between animal rights and animal welfare, and the very complex ways in which we have come to think about the animals with whom we share this planet.
In reading “Some We Love, Some We Hate, Some We Eat,” a book by Hal Herzog, I was immediately transported back to the Tufts lecture hall in which I started thinking more in depth about how I relate to animals. Herzog, a psychology professor and leading thinker in the interdisciplinary field of anthrozoology (the study of human beings interacting with non-human beings), has a way of getting the reader to consider different perspectives on issues.
For instance, he delves into great detail about the food industry and the moral implications of raising broiler chickens in oppressive conditions prior to their slaughter at seven weeks old as well as cockfighting, a practice that is banned in all 50 states as of 2008. Though often a gory and fatal outcome, people who raise or raised gamecocks claim they love them, feed them healthy foods, and give them plenty of space to roam around and chase hens outside for two years before they may die in battle. It sounds like a happier life than in a crowded chicken plant, but who am I to say!
I and—I imagine—many of my colleagues and clients here in New York City do not spend most of the day thinking about where our food comes from (nor cockfighting), but we revel in the delight our dogs and cats bring to us. They are not so much pets as they are our family members. The human-animal bond is incredibly complex, and it has been interesting to jump back into all of the hot topics.