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Currently viewing the category: "Human Attitudes"


“We are like people looking for something they have in their hands all the time; we’re looking in all directions except at the thing we want, which is probably why we haven’t found it”

Plato – The Republic

As a species, those of us not entirely consumed with the minutiae of survival seem to be desperately searching for ways to better understand ourselves – our basic nature – and its relationship with the world around us. In recent years, and despite the astonishing technological feats accomplished in the modern age, we seem still to be utterly perplexed by the very fundamentals of the human condition. The result? A sudden surfeit of Ph.D psychologists on every suburban corner, an entire industry of self-help literature and an endless stream of psychobabble and behavioural dodgy-science in each of the variety of media outlets we now so avariciously consume.

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neuter3In this third post relating to the horrible tragedy in Philippi last month, I feel compelled to stick my neck out and take a critical look at the much hyped sterilization issue (spaying and neutering of animals) and question whether this will solve current dog/human problems in urban South Africa. Of course I realize that this is sacred ground: there are few concepts that so unite all interested parties in the companion animal field – local authorities, NGO’s, Veterinary Associations, trainers, Animal Behaviourists and activist groups – and this unity contrasts so markedly with the rancor that usually reigns. But recent local bylaws and increasing pressure from welfare activists for mandatory sterilization requires some unpacking, at the very least, before a hellishly expensive folly is perpetrated on the animals and poor people of Cape Town.

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SouthAfrica11#3The way people relate to non-human animals is deeply rooted in need, culture and upbringing, and this has extensive historical precedence. For most of our species’ time on earth, our relationship with animals was likely to have been very different from the current situation; it was almost certainly a more threatened and utilitarian one. More recently, our ability to control the immediate environment meant that animals no longer posed the constant threat they once certainly would have, and this was significantly consolidated once we learned to harness animals for our own purposes through domestication.

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