Does anybody treat their dogs better than we do here in the US? We often humanize them, treat them as people, and many even go the extremes (common with toy breeds) as treating them like children with outfits and being had fed, etc. The dog industry here in the US spent $53 billion in 2012 according to the American Pet Products Association, and is on track to spend $55 billion this year.
We’re not saints though. Every day I see videos that make me want to cry or throw up or both. Some people don’t respect the lives of dogs and commit horrible acts of cruelty. I can’t wrap my head around what would make someone lack compassion enough to harm another living being, especially one that basically can’t fight back, it blows my mind. Most cruelty situations are not because a dog was aggressive- the dog is passive. Ok enough of that.
The US is a nation of extremes on many levels, but how do dogs fare in other countries? Is the urban legend about dogs being food in some countries really true? Let’s explore.
Dogs are generally classified into four groups: pet, village, stray, and feral. By far, the largest group in the US is the pet dog. In areas there are stray dog problems but as a country we are a pet dog country. We treat our dogs as members of our families, keep them in our homes, give them names, and do not eat them.
In Mexico, dogs are not treated the same. Many people have pets- dogs, birds, rabbits, etc. However, the pet is expendable. There doesn’t seem to be the same respect for animal life as human life. If the dog dies, get another one. You just have a dog and feed it, there isn’t any thought to life care (exercise, health, nutrition). I am not making a judgment, it is just a statement of facts.
In general, dogs are treated quite well across Europe. It is now a requirement that your dog must be either tattooed or microchipped for identification purposes, and they must have their own pet passport for travel.
In France, people are rather unsentimental about their pets and see them more as accessories. Some data reports that the ratio is as high as 17 dogs to every 100 people- among the highest in the world of developed countries. Most French dogs are not spayed/neutered. There is a rampant dog dropping problem in the streets- people don’t pick up dog poop and city services have been reduced and no longer perform this duty. Yuck, watch your step.
In Spain, animals serve a purpose. They guard, they herd, they are companion animals. It would not be uncommon to see a farm dog outside for hours doing “field work” until its owner brings water for it to drink. Many dogs live outdoors, or in pens. Even companion animals are working dogs and serve a purpose, however they may live indoors.
You are a lucky dog if you live in Germany! Germans love their dogs; they are allowed in almost all spaces (except for grocery stores, butcher shops, some cafes, etc.), and can ride all public transport with their owners. They even have public dog swimming pools. Dogs are common, loved, and a usual part of everyday life. There has to be a downside though. Pit bull breeds are banned in Germany (Am. Staffordshire Terrier and Staffordshire Terrier). Rottweilers are permitted only if they pass a “viciousness” test.
Asia and Elsewhere
In Muslim countries, dogs are generally not tolerated. This may be different in Muslim homes here in America, but in many traditional Muslim homes a dog is not allowed to be in the home. I did find that there are contradictory beliefs out there and some do not believe that this is the correct interpretation of the Koran, but that is the widely held belief. This even extends to service dogs or guide dogs if you would need to enter a mosque or Muslim owned business; some owners may have issue with this.
In China dogs don’t fare so well. It would appear from the internet and National Geographic that there is a movement towards the desire for pet dog ownership but with the population density there is strict government control over pet ownership. In Jiangmen, owners are being forced to apply for a dog license. Seems simple right? Only owners that need a dog for guarding a warehouse or business will be granted a license and everyone else will be required to forfeit their dogs who will be found other homes in rural areas or euthanized. This is reportedly because their has been an increase in rabies deaths, although there is no evidence that the rabies deaths are not from stray dogs or other sources.
You are even more unfortunate if you are a dog in Korea. You are food. I got sick to my stomach looking at the farmer’s market stall pictures of dogs in crates (I’ll take that one…) but then you have to remove the emotion from it because we, as Westerners, eat chickens, cows, turkeys, pigs, all sorts of things that other cultures might pass out at the thought of. The difference is that in our culture, our country, this is a domestic animal. The cow is not a domestic animal- even to those in India. I will fight the nausea by thinking that dogs in Korea are not domesticated.
Dogs have it pretty good here, but we can always do better. At least I like to think that way. If I think that I can always do better for Reggie- a little bit every day- he can have the best life. And if we all do that- a little bit every day- we can keep chipping away and give all dogs the best life possible!