Speciesism is about favouring one species of animal over another. It usually refers to favouring the rights of the human, homo sapiens, over other species. In this instance I am discussing what appears to be the better rights bestowed upon the dog compared to the cat.
The UK government demonstrates speciesism when creating legislation concerning cats and dogs. I am referring to the Road Traffic Act 1988.
There are at least two references to dogs in the Act. The domestic cat is not mentioned.
Section 170 of the Act makes it obligatory for a driver to stop and report to the police an accident with a dog that is on the road when the vehicle or the dog is “damaged”. The Act does indeed refer to “damage” to a dog or the vehicle which puts things into perspective. How the people who wrote the Act can refer to injury to a dog as “damage” is beyond me.
The exact wording of the relevant parts of the Act are as follows:
170 Duty of driver to stop, report accident and give information or documents.
(1) This section applies in a case where, owing to the presence of a mechanically propelled vehicle on a road or other public place, an accident occurs by which—
(a) personal injury is caused to a person other than the driver of that mechanically propelled vehicle, or
(b) damage is caused—
(i) to a vehicle other than that mechanically propelled vehicle or a trailer drawn by that mechanically propelled vehicle, or
(ii) to an animal other than an animal in or on that mechanically propelled vehicle or a trailer drawn by that mechanically propelled vehicle, or…...
(8) In this section “animal” means horse, cattle, ass, mule, sheep, pig, goat or dog.
The other side of the coin is that a dog’s owner commits an offence if he lets his dog wander onto a road. The exceptions are sheep dogs that are working or dogs used for sport such as fox hounds.
27 Control of dogs on roads.
(1) A person who causes or permits a dog to be on a designated road without the dog being held on a lead is guilty of an offence.
subsection (1) above does not apply to dogs proved—
(a) to be kept for driving or tending sheep or cattle in the course of a trade or business, or
(b) to have been at the material time in use under proper control for sporting purposes.
In contrast, cats are hardly ever mentioned in any legislation. They are almost outside the law. If a cat is hit by a car there is no legal obligation to do anything. Of course there is a moral obligation to stop and help the cat, which means finding the owner and taking the cat to the vet if injured. I wonder how many people do this?
Why is the dog apparently treated with more concern than the cat? Well, I don’t believe this is about the dog. I think it is about people and their possessions. Dogs are generally bigger than cats. They can cause damage to a car and affect the driver’s ability to control the car. An accident with a dog is liable to have ramifications, while hitting a cat will not.
However, the reference to dogs in the Road Traffic Act 1988 does show speciesism. The favoured species is neither the cat nor the dog but the human and his car.
There are other examples of speciesism concerning the cat and dog. In general the cat gets a raw deal.
Picture by [new account: DitiPenguin]