Saturday, July 14, 2007

An Abundance of Animals

There were two interesting stories right next to each other on the front page of last Tuesday's paper. One of the articles was about a bill to make spaying and neutering mandatory for all dogs and cats in California. Well, not all dogs and cats -- there would be exceptions for purebred animals and police dogs and animals that assist the disabled. Predictably, there are strong feelings on both sides of the issue.

As a matter of fact, judging by the 20,000 or so people who sent a letter or email voicing their support of or objection to the bill, this is the most controversial bill in the history of the California legislature -- even more controversial than the ill-fated assisted suicide bill of years past.

I don't have any pets, so I don't need to have any opinions on this bill, but I have to say, I've always thought it was cruel to "fix" a cat or dog. If they simply sterilized them, that wouldn't be so bad, because the animals would still be able to enjoy a rewarding and fulfilling sex life. On the other hand, I understand the notion of doing a small amount of harm to promote the greater good. In this case, the harm is to all the spayed and neutered animals, but the greater good is to all the little puppies and kittens who would have been born and subsequently put to sleep if their parents hadn't had their genitals removed.

It seems like everyone I know who has a cat or dog has had their pet "fixed" -- wouldn't "broken" be a better word? -- but apparently there are still a lot of cats and dogs that are still intact, as evidenced by the large number of stray dogs and cats that are either roaming throughout California or are being put to death by the government.

But here's my question: If we spay and neuter all the non-purebred cats and dogs, wouldn't that eventually eliminate all cats and dogs in the state of California? It seems like with no cats or dogs breeding, in twenty years or so they'd all be gone, and the potential cat or dog owner would have to either buy an expensive purebred animal or import a cat or dog from another state.

Maybe the authors of the bill foresaw this potential problem and wrote something into the bill to prevent it. Maybe the newspaper article addressed it somewhere, but I didn't see it. But to be honest, I didn't actually read the whole article -- I just quickly skimmed through it.

I didn't even skim through the other article -- I just noticed the headline -- but it said that by the middle of this century, there will be about 60 million people living in California. Again, I don't particularly need to care about this, since the odds are fairly high that in 2050 most people my age will not be among the living, but seeing these two articles right next to each other gave me an idea. It's pretty obvious, so you probably already know what I'm going to say, but just in case you don't, if human overpopulation is such a big problem that it gets reported on the front page of a major newspaper, maybe we should pass a law requiring sterilization for all adult Californians.

That may seem offensive to some people, but keep in mind, we're only talking about sterilization here -- not spaying or neutering -- so it might not be such a bad idea after all, once you get over the predictable objection that the government shouldn't be poking its intrusive nose into people's personal lives. To be honest, I don't want the government meddling in my affairs, but let's be honest: Our personal freedoms have been steadily eroding for decades and we've adapted to it pretty well, so in another ten years or so, if it keeps getting any more crowded in California, I bet plenty of people will be in favor of a mandatory sterilization bill.

Of course, what the people want doesn't really matter anyway, since most bills aren't put to public vote but are simply passed by elected officials. So anything's possible, but if you're worried that this might actually happen, you should probably be worrying about something else. No politician would dare support a mandatory human sterilization bill for the simple reason that the pharmaceutical industry makes millions of dollars of political contributions every year, and without the need for contraceptives, it would lose a big fat chunk of its annual profits. So any politician who votes for a bill that threatens the financial well-being of the pharmaceutical industry wouldn't have a the slightest chance of getting reelected.

That should make you feel a lot better. But just to be on the safe side, don't have so many kids. And if you have a cat or dog, you should pet it or something, while you still have the chance.