Do we have an ethical obligation to — transcend our species?

Dogs on display in the Great Depression Life is full of big and little transcendences. This week, we’re talking about the moral obligations we have (or don’t have) to animals. A big transcendence is California’s passage of an historical bill to alleviate the suffering of pigs, calves, and egg-laying hens, as we discussed on Monday. California, as usual, is leading a trend nationwide that grants more and more rights to animals.
    A little transcendence is the new First Puppy—the Obama family’s choice of a Portuguese water dog, Bo, as the pet promised to the children. This is a lighthearted story, but it ignited a serious values discussion on the web about animal abuse and rights. Bo is a second-chance dog, one that was rejected by its first owner. (Scroll down to read our Monday and Tuesday stories.)
    Holly Knight reminds us in her comment that Malia Obama’s allergies were a factor in choice of breed. “I share Malia’s allergies to pets,” she says. “My asthma has sent me to the ER more times than I care to remember. I thought I would never be able to own a dog—and I love them. It wasn’t until I was 40 years old that I realized there are some dogs I could tolerate. It’s very difficult to find a shelter dog you can trust is non-allergenic.”
    Stories of cruelty to animals are rampant, such as the loathsome puppy mills we talked about yesterday, but Greg Peterson notes that “it says something even louder about our world that we have kind, generous people who donate their time, money and lives to rescuing pets and animals.”
    Ms Aquino-Hughes, a regular commentator on, is one of these people. She has rescued over 100 abused animals in her life—so far.
    And, Greg describes the efforts of EarthKeepers, led by Northern Michigan University students, who are raising awareness of the conflict between our demand for cheap, fresh meat and the often inhumane methods that are used to meet that demand. (See a video of EarthKeepers here.)

    LOA asks: Do we have an ethical obligation to transcend our species? What do you think?
    Share with us your stories and experiences—of the big and little transcendences involving animal rights. Tell us about the actions you have taken—even the food choices you make that take into account the rights of other species.

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