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Pets and PeopleThe Ethics of Companion Animals$
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Christine Overall

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9780190456085

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: February 2017

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780190456085.001.0001

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Our Whimsy, Their Welfare

Our Whimsy, Their Welfare

On the Ethics of Pedigree-Breeding

(p.111) 8 Our Whimsy, Their Welfare
Pets and People

John Rossi

Oxford University Press

Through the practice of pedigree-breeding, humankind has created and maintained many different distinct types or “breeds” of companion animals, including dogs and cats. Pedigree-breeding is a common and historically entrenched practice, but it is associated with a significant impact on animal welfare, with an increased risk of disease and other health problems. This chapter explores the ethics of pedigree-breeding and presents arguments that such breeding is unethical on any reasonable assumptions about animals’ moral standing. The chapter first establishes empirically that pedigree-breeding produces more disease than outbreeding. It then argues that this harm is not justifiable on either equal or unequal moral consideration views of animals’ moral status. It shows that reforms of pedigree-breeding would not eliminate unnecessary harms; hence pedigree-breeding should be abandoned.

Keywords:   companion animal, breeding, outbreeding, ethics, welfare, pedigree

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