Another case offers more evidence of self-awareness in dogs

No Gravatar

I recently got into a back-and-forth about greyhound racing under a Huffington Post blog entry. A couple of folks on the pro-racing side talked about the dogs as “athletes” and about how much they are worth in monetary terms. And they claimed the dogs love racing.

I came out of the discussion thinking about how far behind these people are when it comes to understanding animal welfare, animal behavior and cognition. One side of the animal-welfare debate is pushing compassion for animals and pushing for better laws to protect animals from cruelty. The other side is fighting all of that and considers an animal to be nothing more than a physical possession.

The science is in, however. The research and study needs to go on, but the conclusion has been reached. Animals – most notably what we might call the higher-order animals – have self-awareness and a state of consciousness. A recent story out of Massachusetts piles more information on the ever-growing mound of proof that these theories have now advanced deep into the category of FACT.

And this story heaps more evidence into the research:

This pit bull – yes pit bull – pulled his unconscious guardian off a train track and saved her life. Lilly risked her own life and suffered severe injuries. After her leg has been amputated, Lilly is expected to recover.

As reported by My Fox Boston, the train engineer witnessed Lilly pulling Christine Spain off the track, but despite all of his efforts to stop the train in time, he could not avoid hitting the dog.

This is not instinctive behavior on Lilly’s part. What she did took a higher-order thought process, to recognize a danger and act on it to save another being from harm. How can we – as an advanced society – not advance our legal system to offer for animals better protection from cruelty?

How can we allow horse slaughter, knowing they have an advanced level of consciousness? How is it that particular entities in 2012 are fighting against stronger anti-puppy mill laws? How is it that certain entities are trying to hide from public view the cruelty that takes place on too many factory farms?

These people and entities fighting against animal welfare are not only on the wrong side of history, they are on the wrong side of the galaxy when it comes to compassion and science. I am excited and heartened by the fact that in the case of animal welfare, science and compassion have fully joined forces. The mounting scientific evidence clearly supports the animal-welfare movement and its compassionate message.