Placing Animals – Julie Urbanik

“Placing Animals” by Julie Urbanik explores anthropocetrism and how it pertains to how we treat animals. If we are anthropocentric, then we only care about human comfort and happiness. This ideology gives man free reign to treat other species however they please. It leads to research facilities that keep chimpanzees in solitary, compact cages, conditions that are known to cause permanent psychological damage. This ideology causes horses to get injected with painkillers so they can race on an injured leg. However, this book also argues that it is impossible for humans to not be anthropocentric because at the very essence of our sense of self, we are humans. We can do our best, but it is impossible to understand what it is like to be an animal. We can try to put ourselves in their shoes, but that in itself is the problem. Even our adages are human centered, “shoes”. This book argues that we must use are anthrocentric views to look at animals in a new light, especially in research. To not let our human lens limit how we see other species.

Human interactions with animals can be classified into different categories, consumption, social companions, and our disconnected reverence for what is “wild”. We consume animals and view them as resources in insurmountable ways. We genetically modify them to fit the likes of our taste buds. In this relationship, animals are resources. They transgenically modified in a lab, tested on, slaughtered, and eaten. If animals are merely resources, can they be owned and patented? Where should a line be drawn and if at all? Even though viewing animals as resources sounds brutal, it is necessary and doesn’t have to be. Small family owned farms are on the rise. Chimpanzees have recently been emancipated from lab research, while other animal’s living conditions are increasing.

The concept of having animals as pets is a lot more complicated than I previously thought. In the book “Eating Animals” that we read earlier in the semester it discusses the cognitive dissonance we have in our perception of pigs. They are just as smart and companionable as dogs, but are viewed as lowly and well… merely as “bacon”. Dogs however are put on a pedestal over all other domesticated animals. Millions of dollars are spent in medical treatment, keeping them healthy. Cats and horses are on pedestals as well. When a horse dies, it is illegal to use eat its meat. It must be cremated. Some would argue that cremating a horse is a waste of good meat, while others would say that it would be borderline sacrilegious to eat a horse. For many of these issues, There is no “right” answer to them.

Lastly, there are the wild things. The majestic, mysterious creatures of nature. Our relationship with these species are the most distant. Their survival mostly depends on their roles in their surrounding ecosystem, and if society thinks that they have any intrinsic value. However, I argue that these species are the most important. Because they are not pets, and likely to be overlooked, they need to be protected the most. Dogs would never be allowed to go extinct, but If we don’t care the wild creatures, then who will?


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