Service dogs, whether they’re hearing dogs, guide dogs, or dogs that help people cope with illness, can transform peoples lives. However, is using them vegan? Would it be considered unethical to have an animal that’s primary purpose is to benefit your quality of life?
In the vegan community, I’d say it’s pretty split. On the one hand, some say that owning an animal that has been bred and trained purely for a human to use is exploitation. They argue service dogs are regarded as property, and by making them live a life to serve a human, they find the idea of service dogs cruel.
On the other hand, most vegans see no issue with it. Dogs have been domesticated for thousands of years, and they now seek pleasure in the presence of humans. There are also no suitable alternatives. Many vegans may argue that there is no need for service dogs, as you could employ humans instead. However, the cost of this for the person needing the care would be through the roof.
It is also extremely embarrassing and humiliating for many people to face living with a human carer. A dog cannot judge you, feel sorry for you, or create awkward situations. Humans also are not able to detect seizures before they happen, nor are they able to work 24 hour days.
The most infuriating thing about this topic in the vegan community, are those that try to talk on behalf of disabled people. On one group, I quote;
I’d rather be in my house all day if the only alternative was to go out with a guide dog.
One person flat out believes that she would rather sit inside, with no human interaction, than use a guide dog. Easy enough to say, harder to implement when you’re genuinely blind.
What about breeding?
In regards to breeding, I don’t personally agree with how Guide Dogs are bred the majority of the time, and not rescued. However, I do understand why they do it. Breeding is much more cost effective, as well as means the puppies can be trained from an early age and they know they will have good temperaments.
They’re bred by professionals, and go to loving homes where they will be safe.
The emotional support a service dog can provide is second to none. Dog’s have been domesticated for so long, that it’s hard to argue using them as service companions is a form of abuse. They’re not treated cruelly, they’re not abused, and they form special bonds with their owners. Just like having a pet to bring you joy is vegan, having a service dog that could potentially save your life is also vegan.
It’s important to always look at the bigger picture.