Is using a service animal considered animal abuse?
If you ask some of the vocal vegans on Twitter, the answer would be yes. According to an ongoing conversation online, some vegans believe that using a service animal for medical purposes falls under the umbrella of animal abuse.
A post to Instagram appears to have begun this intense discussion, which has spread to several social media sites. It all began when Instagram page Anonymous for the Voiceless published a post explaining its opinions on service animals. “The default position of veganism is to reject the use of non-human animals,” it read. “This includes ALL uses, including service animals. Service dogs and the like are still a WANT and not a need. And regardless of treatment, the use of any animal for service promotes the idea that animals are here to work for humans rather than to exist in their own right as individuals.”
The post, which has been liked by almost 8,000 users, disavows any kind of service animal—even those not purchased by a breeder. It even goes after domestication, because it “does not involve consent by all those involved.” The inequality within the power dynamics in a pet/owner relationship, the post says, is a problem.
While there were those in the comments for the post that agreed with its proclamation, most people felt the original poster went too far. Once the conversation spread to Twitter, however, things really started to heat up.
People shared their own explanations for why they believe those with disabilities should find an alternative to service animals. While many shared the view that service animals shouldn’t be used, no alternatives were offered for people with disabilities. Some of those who agreed with the “animal abuse” claim even compared use to service animals to slavery. “Animals are amazing but they are not here for our use, regardless of our personal circumstances,” one user said. “Would this have been a good enough reason to keep hold of some slaves back in the day??”
My thoughts on the service animal dilemma. pic.twitter.com/hrHY7uZcpo— Connor Anderson Ⓥ (@C_Anderson1998) July 4, 2019
Are disabled people superior to animals? Surely people who think so are simply speciest? Animals are amazing but they are not here for our use, regardless of our personal circumstances. Would this have been a good enough reason to keep hold of some slaves back in the day?— Extremely_Vegan Ⓥ (@Extremely_Vegan) July 4, 2019
fuck ableist vegans but i don't think it should be controversial for us to say that it would be better and more ethical to shape the world in a way that facilitates the function of service animals without the use of an animal. it's not like we don't have the technology.— manda (@uhh__manda) July 4, 2019
No. That's not what is being said. 'service animals' – there to serve humans. What we have reduced them to. We, the masters.— Extremely_Vegan Ⓥ (@Extremely_Vegan) July 5, 2019
Despite the surprising number of people reinforcing the animal abuse idea, the majority of users disagreed. People with disabilities, in particular, shot down the idea that they were abusing their pets by needing and utilizing their assistance. “Maybe you should talk to, idk, actual service dog handlers,” one user said.
this is about as ridiculous as that vegan who called out another vegan for giving a crying child money to buy non-vegan ice cream so they wouldn't be the only kid without it, only aggressively ableist.— kory (@davidrxse) July 4, 2019
I’m Vegan with a Service animal, what the actual fuck— wednesday (@witchebaby) July 5, 2019
how agonizingly typical of vegans to value the life of animals created for human use over their fellow human beings. 1) service dogs like being service dogs. otherwise they get washed. maybe you should talk to, idk, actual service dog handlers? https://t.co/er62tJiNyI— finn || clan wren supremacy (@3picexplosions) July 4, 2019
i’ve been an ethical vegan for almost 3 years and honestly??? so many of y’all just suck. ableism, fatphobia, racism, classism, etc etc are very rampant in the online vegan community and i’m genuinely so tired of it. leave disabled people and their service animals the fuck alone— booch fiend (@barnaclealloy) July 5, 2019