Of Rights and Wrongs

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Published on: Jun. 2, 1996

Last revision: Oct. 21, 2010

who had come to a sudden stop, said nothing. Instead, she stood looking at Hack's shed. Hack followed her gaze. He saw several whitetail deer skulls, antlers intact, nailed to the gables. He saw a raft of squirrel hides tacked to the weathered oak siding. He saw a couple of leghold traps hanging carefully from their nails. And he saw a coyote skin dangling next to the door. The young woman blurted out, "how could you?"

"How could I what?" Hack asked in return, although his voice was gentle. "Trap? Hunt? Use animals?"

She said hurriedly, "I believe animals are just like us. They have rights, too. We have no business using them or exploiting them in any way. They have as much right to be on this earth as we do. I go out of my way to make sure no living thing is harmed by my presence in this world." "Vegetarian?" Hack asked.

"Vegan," she replied. "No meat, eggs, honey, milk, nothing animal in origin or even anything that ever came from an animal."

"I must say, that's a durn tough way to live," Hack admitted. "Plastic shoes?" "Yes," she said. "They get a little hot in the summer but it's worth it to save the lives of all those poor animals."

Hack thought about this as he scratched his head. From behind the shed his cattle lowed. Far up on the hill, a deer snorted.

"You have pets, don't you?"

"You mean companion animals?"

He sighed. "Yes, I suppose I do."

"Of course," she said. "I have several dogs I've saved from the pound, no purebreds, of course. And a couple of cats, too."

"Spayed and neutered?" he asked.

"Sure," she said.

"And what about when your pets, er, I mean, companion animals get old, what do you do then?"

"Why, I have them put to sleep."

He nodded as he bent over to pick a long stalk of orchard grass. "So your animals are just like us, but you deprive them of their right to breed. Then, when they get old, you put them down."

"You can't just let them breed indiscriminately. Otherwise the world would have even more unwanted animals than it does now. As to choosing when to end a companion animal's life, it's the humane thing to do," Suellen said.

"Now let me get this right. If it's your own companion animal, you determine what's right and what's humane?"

"Someone has to," she stammered.

"But when it comes to other animals,

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