Why The Tail-Docking Of Dogs Should Be Prohibited
and Cephalopods & Decapod Crustaceans:
Their Capacity To Experience Pain & Suffering
Advocates for Animals (10 Queensferry Street, Edinburgh, EH2 4PG, Scotland, U.K.), 2005.
Reviewed by Merritt Clifton
Rule #1 for headline writers is that brevity is the soul of wit.
Rule #2 is, Never use a word that your readers will not instantly recognize.
Bad titling unfairly handicaps Why The Tail-Docking Of Dogs Should Be Prohibited, which would be both more succinct and grammatically correct without either “the” or “of.”
Bad titling outright sabotages Cephalopods & Decapod Crustaceans: Their Capacity To Experience Pain & Suffering.
If you know what a cephalopod is, raise a tentacle. If you know what “decapod crustaceans” are, raise a claw.
At 16 and 20 letter-sized pages, respectively, these new Advocates for Animals handbooks are exactly what activists need when urging lawmakers to ban tail-docking, or are speaking up for octopi, squid, crabs, lobsters, and crayfish.
Each handbook collects the relevant facts, cites key studies with footnotes, and helps activists counter the standard arguments for excusing cruelty.
Why The Tail-Docking Of Dogs Should Be Prohibited was assembled to promote a bill now before the Scottish Executive which would prohibit cosmetic tail-docking.
Tail-docking dogs has already been banned in Britain, Sweden, and a few other places for long enough to produce a substantial body of evidence, presented by Advocates for Animals, that banning the practice has no ill effect on dogs.
Pigs, sheep, horses, and even cattle are still routinely tail-docked in much of the world, however, mostly to mask the symptoms of other bad practices. For example, pigs are tail-docked because otherwise pigs who are too closely confined will bite each other s tails. Dairy cattle kept in confinement are sometimes tail-docked so that they won t flip manure while swishing their tails in the barn or milking parlor but if they were given adequate outdoor time, and were not afflicted by flies, this would be much less a problem.
Although dogs rather than livestock are the focus of Why The Tail-Docking Of Dogs Should Be Prohibited, pain studies involving livestock are mentioned, making this handbook useful to anyone addressing any aspect of the tail-docking issue.
It may be downloaded from <www.advocatesforanimals.org.uk/>.
Cephalopods & Decapod Crustaceans: Their Capacity To Experience Pain & Suffering is apparently not available at the Advocates for Animals web site, as I was unable to find it. Summaries of pain studies comprise almost the entire publication.
Addressing suffering in species so far removed from humans might seem tactically premature, since much of the public still has difficulty understanding that tail-docking causes dogs to suffer, but relevant discussion occupied much of the lead feature in the January 22, 2006 edition of The New York Times Magazine. Examining the evolution of personality, author Charles Siebert extensively discussed studies of octopus personality done at the Seattle Aquarium since 1991 by staff scientist Roland Anderson and University of Lethbridge psychologist Jennifer Mather.
Anderson and Mather s 1993 paper in the Journal of Comparative Psychology, entitled “Personalities of Octopuses,” was not only the “first-ever documentation of personality in invertebrates,” Siebert wrote. It was the first time in anyone’s memory that the term ‘personality’ had been applied to a nonhuman in a major psychology journal.”
In the years since Anderson and Mather’s original paper, Siebert continued, “a whole new field of research has emerged known simply as ‘animal personality.’ Through close and repeated observations of different species in a variety of group settings and circumstances, scientists are finding that our own behavioral traits exist in varying degrees and dimensions among creatures across all the branches of life’s tree.”
Personality is a much more complex issue than simply possessing the ability to recognize and respond to pain. In basic form, personality appears to involve the ability to weigh the chance of suffering of pain against anticipation of more satisfactory outcomes.
Since the existence of personality in octupi now appears to be established beyond debate, any scientific question as to whether cephalopods and decapod crustaceans feel pain appears to have been settled by default. Unsettled is only the cultural question of whether or not humans will choose to respond to the pain of animals unlike ourselves.
Discovering that these animals have personality, and learning to recognize their individual differences, is a huge step toward reducing the emotional distance between species. Thereby, it is a huge step toward recognizing a moral obligation to mitigate or prevent their suffering.