Dogs are more than just property

The Now has been receiving lots of feedback following columnist Adrian MacNair’s opinion piece on dogs. Many have taken issue with Adrian’s opinion on the matter, myself included.

As stated elsewhere, MacNair’s opinion piece is very much that, one person’s opinion on the matter. It is not representative of the newsroom or this newspaper and is actually contrary to what most in the newsroom believe.

And while I will defend his right to express his opinion – as should be the right of anyone – when it boils down to it, I disagree wholeheartedly with his stance.

The relationships that we experience on this earth as beings can vary in so many ways it’s simply narrow-minded to definitively declare that there’s, “no love like that which we have for other people.”

How anyone can claim to define or measure love unequivocally is beyond me, but as someone who comes from a dog-loving (specifically, Doberman) family, I would argue quite the contrary.

When I look into the eyes of my dog, I see sentience there. He might not be able to communicate with me in a language I understand, but that goes both ways. Regardless of that language barrier, we’re able to have a relationship that I value moreso than that with a lot of people in my life.

When I come home from work and see my dog watching from the window, ready to offer the unconditional affection that some humans are even incapable of, I wouldn’t trade that for anything else in the world.

And so with MacNair portraying the value of a dog’s life as seemingly on par with that of replaceable object, it devalues what it means for others to experience love and relationships.

Dogs are not merely instinct-driven animals that operate purely on reaction. These aren’t simple creatures and are demonstrably capable of expressing emotions in the same way we do. Nobody would argue that affection is a result of instinct nor would it be a very good survival trait. Affection is just that, affection.

Perhaps the biggest flaw in MacNair’s logic is that dogs are, “essentially inconsequential to this world.” That should have probably read, “inconsequential to MY world.”

You could argue that humans are also inconsequential to this world in that we’re all organic matter that will end up in the dirt someday. Someone living in the next city over may not even be aware that you or I exist and thus, we’re inconsequential to their world.

Finally, claiming that a dog’s life is less important because they live shorter lifespans is completely preposterous. There are many children in this world that have passed away due to unforeseen circumstances, be it disease, disaster and what have you. Should those lives and memories be viewed as less worthy simply because they weren’t as long as others? Absolutely not. There are animals on this planet that live longer than humans, but we don’t value their lives above ours.

And that’s basically what this all comes down to. The value of life.

Dog walker Emma Paulsen was sentenced to six months in jail after she was found responsible for the deaths of six dogs. She willingly and knowingly put those animals in a situation where there was a high probability that they could perish, and they did. That’s considered a crime in our society and she was punished accordingly.

Mahatma Gandhi once said, “The greatness of a nation can be judged by the way its animals are treated.”

Keep in mind we’re all animals.

Christopher Poon is a staff writer with the Now. He can be reached by email at

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