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Incorrect Use Of Property Sees Woman Charged With Cruelty

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A woman from North Bay, Ontario is facing charges after being found keeping almost 600 rats in her one-bedroom apartment.

According to this article in the Toronto Sun, she has been charged with “permitting distress, failing to provide sanitary living conditions, failing to provide care necessary for general welfare, and failing to provide adequate and appropriate medical attention.” She “voluntarily” surrendered the rats who were removed from the apartment over a number of days and who are currently awaiting adoption after being spread out over a number of humane societies in the province. The 51-year-old woman will appear in North Bay court on February 3rd.

The most interesting thing about this story isn’t the woman herself; rather, it presents us with yet another example of how the intention of an action and the perceived legitimacy a particular animal use dictates whether or not an animal owner has committed any wrongdoing. As property, the interests of the animal remain irrelevant and non-existent by law, and the action is determined to be right or wrong in accordance with whether or not there are any human benefits to be derived.

Take these 600 rats, for example. Were they kept in a single laboratory room, where their stress, unsanitary conditions and lack of medical attention were part of an experiment for human medication or cosmetic testing, the suffering of the rats would be deemed “necessary” in light of the human benefits accrued from the exploitation. Their exploitation would be deemed legitimate in contributing to the overall net wealth of society.

If the rats were being raised as some sort of culinary delicacy, whereby the owner intended to slaughter the rats and sell them as food, the use and treatment of the rats would be be considered legitimate as the law would assume that, given that the owner intends to make a profit, the owner will not irrationally treat his/her property in ways that would diminish the value of that property.

When it comes to the woman in Ontario, however, her treatment of the 600 rats did not contribute to the net wealth of society, nor did it serve any legitimate purpose in the eyes of the law. In other words there were no human benefits to be derived from the exploitation, and only then was it considered “unnecessary.”

Her charges are not in recognition of the inherent value of the rats. Rather, the law is reprimanding her for using her animal property in a way that served no purpose benefitting humans. The very same exploitation and neglect is considered legitimate and “necessary” by the law whenever there is a human benefit or when the exploitation is deemed as contributing to society in some way.

The rats remain things, and until we dismantle the property status of animals by going vegan, so do the billions of other animals being exploited for “necessary” and “legitimate” purposes.

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