When Pigs Fly, and Other Animal Rights and Wrongs

I managed to provoke fury in a graduate student earlier this semester when I expressed skepticism about animal rights by observing that I’d take the idea more seriously when we entered into labor contracts with our horses and livestock, and asked our pets for informed consent statements before subjecting them to the ministrations of a veterinarian.  Expressing such distinctions between human beings and other animal species is nearly as politically incorrect as questioning gender theory, gay marriage, climate change orthodoxy, etc.

A typical click-bait story bearing on this subject crossed the wires today:

Pooping Dog Diverts Philly-Bound Flight

Twitter was abuzz Wednesday with pictures — and complaints — after a dog poo’d in the middle of a Philadelphia-bound flight, forcing an emergency landing.

Yes, you read right — dog poop forced an emergency landing, according to passengers aboard US Airways Flight 598 from Los Angeles to Philadelphia. Those passengers took to Twitter to document the smelly ordeal.

Passengers said that the large dog went to the bathroom in the plane’s aisle as many as three times, making people nearby physically ill.

And flying is so much fun these days already.  Plainly people with genuine needs for “service animals”—usually trained dogs—deserve our sympathy and accommodation, and this may have been an isolated and unfortunate circumstance for this particular dog, especially since the flight was delayed at takeoff.  I’ve been on several flights with service dogs, only once with the minor embarrassment of a dog with considerable flatulence.

On the other hand, I was on an airplane flight once with a passenger who insisted on bringing on board his “service animal”: a monkey.  The monkey hopped seats, grabbed at other passengers, grabbed at people’s coffee cups and eventually prevented people in most of the adjacent rows from consuming either food or beverage.

And then there’s this story from way back in 2000:

Pigs might fly . . . but ‘never again’ on American airline

A TWENTY-STONE pet pig rampaged through the aisles of an American aircraft snuffling at food trays and rubbing its nose on passengers’ legs after it was allowed to fly first class.

Its owners had insisted upon it accompanying them on the flight, saying that it was a “therapeutic companion pet”. They produced a doctor’s note to that effect. . .

The pig, described as “enormous, brown, angry and honking” was allowed on to the six-hour flight from Philadelphia to Seattle after its owners, a woman in her thirties and one in her sixties, told airline officials that it was as crucial to them as a guide dog. US Airways and the Federal Aviation Authority stipulate that passengers may fly with “service animals” such as guide dogs.

The pig was walked on to the aircraft where it was given three seats in first class, near its owners who had paid the fare. Despite attempts to strap in the animal, it became restless after take off and began sauntering through the first class cabin. “He kept rubbing his nose on people’s legs trying to get them to give him food and stroke him,” said one passenger.

As the flight landed in Seattle the pig panicked, running up and down through economy class squealing. At one point the animal attempted to enter the cockpit, charging the door. It took four cabin attendants to remove the pig from the aircraft, but once inside the terminal it escaped. It was re-captured after being pushed into a lift.

Rather than appeal to animal rights, the pig’s owners should try again and claim the pig as an anti-hijacking precaution.  Bottom line: The ideology of animal rights is clearly trying to “transgress” the boundaries of common sense.