Crimes Against Animals

ferretYou may already have seen this picture which has spread like wildfire across the internet. I’m ashamed to say I shared the common initial response to the story—laughter at the foolishness of consumers looking for bargains. Fortunately, as I learned more of the facts of the deeper crime committed here became apparent, and the humor was displaced by sympathy.

So, just what does this image show? Apparently in Argentina, some criminals have devised a very profitable type of deception. They sell cute toy poodles at a fraction of typical prices.

The only problem with this transaction, is that when owners take their puppies in for vaccinations, the veterinarians have to break the news to them that what they really purchased is not a poodle . . . but a ferret.

How in the world could someone confuse the two, you doubtless wonder. After all, one is Canis lupus familiaris (canine) and the other is Mustela putorius furo (weasel)!

The thieves go to extremes to camouflage their crime. In addition to grooming their fur in similar ways, apparently they abbreviate the poor creatures lives by loading them with steroids as soon as they are born. This adds bulk to disguise the slinky build of these crepuscular mammals that are closely related to polecats. [Don’t feel bad, I had to look up “crepuscular” myself; it refers to animals most active during dawn and twilight hours.]

From the photo you can see the “subtle” differences. I suppose the vendor could explain some of them away with comments like “the muzzle of really young puppies always looks slightly pointed, until they mature.”

While I despise theft, I can chuckle at the thought of someone’s jaw dropping at the news of how they were duped—but I do not regard as at all humorous the suffering inflicted on those innocent creatures.

I don’t own one of the estimated 800,000 domestic ferrets that are part of American families. That doesn’t prevent me, though, from being angered by the cruelty of man toward a species with which humanity has enjoyed a cooperative relationship since before the days of Caesar Augustus. (Augustus shipped ferrets to the Balearic Islands to control a rabbit infestation in 6 BC.)

Some readers might consider my concern for mere weasels as misguided. I believe they are wrong. As C.S. Lewis wrote to a correspondent in 1956:

I think God wants us to love Him more, not to love creatures (even animals) less. We love everything in one way too much (i.e. at the expense of our love for Him) but in another way we love everything too little. No person, animal, flower, or even pebble, has ever been loved too much—i.e. more than every one of God’s works deserves.

It should come as no surprise that the creator of Narnia gave much thought to humanity’s relationship with the other creatures with which the Lord has populated our world. God in the Dock includes his fine essay on “Vivisection.”

After weighing the arguments for and against experimentation on animals, Lewis suggests that our justifications for doing so are often dehumanizing.

The reason why we do not dare [to strongly object to experimentation on higher life forms in the animal kingdom] is that the other side has in fact won. And though cruelty even to beasts is an important matter, their victory is symptomatic of matters more important still.

The victory of vivisection marks a great advance in the triumph of ruthless, non-moral utilitarianism over the old world of ethical law; a triumph in which we, as well as animals, are already the victims, and of which Dachau and Hiroshima mark the more recent achievements. In justifying cruelty to animals we put ourselves also on the animal level. We choose the jungle and must abide by our choice.

I pray that the Argentinean authorities are able to dismantle this abominable trade. And I also hope they will not only prosecute the perpetrators of the crime for theft . . . but for the far more morally corrupt crime of cruelty to animals as well.

14 thoughts on “Crimes Against Animals

  1. I remember seeing this on the news a while back… Despite the cruelty of the crime, I still find it mystifying how the buyers could be deceived into thinking that the creature pictured on the right was a dog, much less a poodle.

  2. Kathy

    I enjoy your blog, Rob. This one strikes at my heart since I do not understand NOT loving and revering all life, yes, even the stones, the trees. Thank you for writing this piece.

  3. When I first read about people getting a ferret instead of a toy poodle, I laughed out loud and thought, “Lucky people!” (One of the nastiest dogs I ever met was a spoiled-rotten toy poodle whose female owner thought it was cute that when her husband asked her for “sugar” and cuddled up close to her, the dog growled murderously at him. Of course, it was the human who was truly nastier than the dog.)

    I thought “Lucky people!” because I have had ferrets, and they are the sweetest, most adorable animals! They are also proof that God has a sense of humor because He created them with an innate sense of fun that they never grow out of–unlike puppies and kittens. The only reason I don’t have a ferret now is that I loved mine so much and they broke my heart when they died too young, as ferrets often do.

    Reading further, I was incensed to read of the abuse perpetrated on these poor, innocent ferrets. The cruel hearts of man never cease to astound me with the things they can dream up! Ferrets don’t live long enough, but many humans live way too long!

    It should be noted that many sadists and murderers began their careers with cruelty to animals in their childhood. It is no accident that cruelty to animals further degraded into cruelty against man who was created in God’s image.

    1. I’ve never known anyone who had a ferret, but your description certainly bears out what I’ve read elsewhere. I have always pictured them frolicking like the fun-loving otters most of us are better acquainted with from youthful readings. (Not that I’ve known anyone who adopted pet otters either!)

      Your comment about cruelty toward animals preceding other, increasingly worse violence, is quite true. Sadism is a patently demonic trait, and it frequently first expresses itself in this manner.

  4. I’ve been a Ferret owner, two of them in fact, sadly we had to sell them when we had our son, as he required a lot of attention as I did when I took ill after he was born, prior to that though I have to agree with Mimiswardrobe, they are fun and fantastical creatures as well as being dubious, those cunning critters will steal your metal whatevers right out from under your nose – I am willing to bet that if the people who purchased the condo we lived in at the time remodeled the kitchen they’d find some very interesting items under the cabinets where our “Ferts” hid them…

    That being said though, things like this just irritate the crap out of me…how in the world could someone possibly think this is anywhere near ok…

  5. Please understand that what I am about to say does not, in any way, condone or seek to belittle this heinous act of animal cruelty. So…

    “Hey Bubba! Grab a beer and getchur self over heah! Looky what I got – one a dem there poodle dogs.”

    “Do it bark?”

    “H*** no, Bubba, you unejumicated dummy! Don’t you know anything? Poodle dogs don’t bark; they squeak.”

    1. Aside from wrongly inferring that all guys named “Bubba” share a common mental density… I do see the humor here. That’s the very aspect which catches so many of us off guard so we laugh first and only realize later realize the sobering implications of a given situation.

      1. My sister called me “Bubba” when we were young. I am also from the South (and proud of it). My apologies to all the intelligent Bubbas out there. Would it be reverse inferrence if “Nigel” had wondered it the poodle barked?

        Again, what the guy did to the ferret was inexcusable, but there is definitely a kennel full of humor in this story, albeit sad humor. It’s the kind of humor that makes you laugh when the only other thing to do is cry.

      2. Oh, I know you didn’t intend it as a putdown. And, I hasten to add that “many of my best friends are from the South.” I say that tongue-in-cheek, of course, since it’s a lame expression–even though it’s true in this case. We spent three years in Montgomery, Alabama (at the USAF Chaplain School) and loved the culture–especially for the prevailing attitude of respect that people freely offered to one another. The rest of the country could learn much about courtesy from our fellow citizens in the South and the Midwest.

  6. Pingback: Worshipping Cats & Dogs « Mere Inkling

  7. Pingback: C.S. Lewis & Cruelty to Animals « Mere Inkling

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