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Friday, May 22, 2009

Would You Save a Pet or a Stranger?

I have a question for you. I heard a conversation Thursday afternoon on WLW radio from one of their talk personalities. He asked the audience, “If given a choice, would you save a complete stranger or your pet from dying?” The hypothetical is that the one saved will live and the one ignored will certainly die. (For example, both may be drowning at the same time.) To me, many of the responses he received were unbelievable. Many people would choose to save their pet over a stranger.

I decided to find some responses on the Internet to the same question. Here are some of the actual answers I found that people sent in response to the same question:

If the cameras were on, I'd save the stranger, if no camera's I'd save my beloved pet...I have my lil' doggy, I hate her so much yet I love her so much (it was a rough relationship at first)...and I'll save her...plus if she died it would destroy my wife!

But honestly. I'd save my dog. Because I love my dog. And I don't know the stranger.

If I had to choose between just one of them, I'd most likely save my pet. Still, I'd be racked with guilt for not saving someone's life.

My pets are members of my family who I love and who love me. Without hesitation I'd save my pet first & if the stranger can't hang on a bit longer then so be it.

I can’t get another dog like this one and the stranger can turn out to be a killer that tried to kill my pet!

I know my pet. I love my pet. My pet may be a different species than me, but my pet is still part of my tribe. A complete stranger is just that -- a complete stranger. Now, in principle I value human life above the life of an animal, but it doesn't follow that I value the life of any given human above the life of a particular animal.

My pet probably. I don't care much for humans and human interaction.

I’d save a pet over a complete stranger any day.

First off, the world is overpopulated, one less human can’t be too bad in the grand scheme of things. Secondly, I love my dogs, and couldn’t care less about some random guy that just dropped dead—happens all the time.

My pet. For all I know that person could be a crackhead, a murderer, or a rapist... I'm not obligated to protect random people (ESPECIALLY MALES). A male should be able to protect himself. …my dog is my obligation. I own the dog, it cant take care of itself, my dog relies on me to feed it, water it, take it out, and even protect it against some things. I would save my dog.

Of course, the logical follow up to these responses would be, “What if the human were you and someone else was faced with saving your life over their pet’s?” I didn’t find any responses to that question, but it begs for answers (especially from those above). I know some of the people above were probably young, but they were old enough to type the answers you see. What does this simple survey tell us about complacent individuals in our society?

To equate the value of any human’s life to an animal’s life seems ridiculous, stranger or not. I just wonder how human companionship became so powerful over man’s humanity for man. Have you ever saved a life? I have been lucky enough to do that a couple of times- fire and drowning. Both were strangers and neither were in any condition to thank me for the favor. My point here is that the act of saving a life is reward enough.

Here are some statistics on pets from the American Veterinary Medical Association. I include these stats to show the relative importance of pets to Americans. I do understand the tremendous attachments and possible benefits of owning a pet although I wonder how well cared for the majority of pets truly are.

Dogs Cats Birds Horses

Percent of households owning 37.2% 32.4% 3.9% 1.8%

Number of households owning 43,021,000 37,460,000 4,453,000 2,087,000

Average number owned per household 1.7 2.2 2.5 3.5

Total number in United States 72,114,000 81,721,000 11,199,000 7,295,000

The Bible, quoting Jesus, states,"This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. Greater love has no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends." (John 15:12-13, RSV)

The word “friends” can certainly apply to human/animal relationships; however, to interpret this quote as “pet significant” would be stretching the theme of “the greatest gift.” I propose the life of any stranger is greater in worth and importance than the life of any animal. Whether you love your pet more than most humans, feel certain people are inferior to pets, or just don’t care for strangers, you must believe a human in need demands your immediate attention. The loss of a pet negatively affects its owners and realistically receives little or no attention from others.

I defense of animal lovers, I wish to include a quote from one of my favorite political and philosophical figures in history. I believe a distinction can still be made in Gandhi’s defense of defenseless animals. That distinction is: Gandhi is speaking of protecting animals from the cruelty of man, not protecting a human life in an accidental circumstance.

What Gandhi Said

"The greatness of a nation and its Moral progress can be judged by the way it's animals are treated."

"To my mind the life of a lamb is no less precious than that of a human being. I hold that, the more helpless a creature, the more entitled it is to protection by man from the cruelty of man."

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