The Fido Solution

The ultimate answer to too many strays, cash-strapped budgets, animal shelter abuses and starving people

"There is no literary champion savoring asosena ('dogmeat' in the Filipino dialect of Tagalog) as the specialty of a Manila street vendor, as M.F.K. Fisher would have savored a rustic repast of pate, cheese and a proper digestif at a Provencal inn," he wrote.

(Hey, maybe if they force-fed dogs like they do geese in order to get the livers to produce the best pate, people would take notice.)

Marshall Sahlins, in the book Culture and Practical Reason, says people equate dogs with themselves because dogs "climb upon chairs designed for humans, sleep in people's beds and sit at tables after their own fashion awaiting their share of the family meal." They're given names, too, and it all adds up to "metaphorical cannibalism" if we were to chow down on a chow.

Bring out the dead at the city pound.
Mark Dean
Bring out the dead at the city pound.
BARC workers show a stray who's boss.
Mark Dean
BARC workers show a stray who's boss.

There's no law against eating dog. Congress, Torpoco notes, "defined 'food' in the federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act as 'articles used as food,'" which is a pretty broad description.

"Terms such as 'fit for human consumption,' 'edible' and 'filthy' are meaningless absent a cultural context," he writes.

Maybe you don't want to eat dog -- perhaps you prefer McDonald's, where the cows have no names -- but maybe someone in a starving country does. Ship the meat overseas.

We're just saying. It's a modest proposal, really.

There are some, of course, who will argue against the increased killing of stray (or even just slightly annoying) cats and dogs. It would be much, much better, they say, to simply spay and neuter those animals.

"If you can prevent ten litters in a lifetime, that's 70 or so animals that won't be around," says Barton of the city health department.

"There are so many homeless pets and unwanted animals coming in to our facility, so stopping that cycle is key," says Alice Sarmiento of the Houston Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.

Neutering also greatly reduces aggressive behavior, experts say. No more marking of territory or madly searching for what we can actually call, without fear of offense, "hot bitches."

"They're not going to be jumping over the fence every ten minutes," Sarmiento says.

Yeah, yeah, yeah. Cut 'em in the crotch and all the worries go away.

It turns out that a lot of people want nothing to do with spaying or neutering. "There's this emotional attachment to a dog's sexuality, believe it or not," says Hodges of Harris County's animal control department. "You laugh, but if you were here you'd hear it five times a day -- 'I wouldn't deny my dog that.' Or even with female dogs -- 'Dogs want to be mothers, too.'"

Find that hard to believe? Then you've never heard of "Neuticles," which are testicular implants for dogs and cats who've been snipped. Over 100,000 pets around the world have been "Neuticled" in the past ten years, says the manufacturer, CTI Corporation. You'll be glad to know Neuticles come in two different models: "rigid firmness" at $60 a pair and "natural firmness" at $129 a pair or higher.

(A FAQ from the company's Web site delves deep into the philosophical dilemma of fake dog balls: "Q. My vet said Neuticles are not ethical. Is that true? A. We feel the removal of any God-given body part -- leaving a male pet looking unwhole after the traditional form of neutering -- is not only unethical but unnatural. With Neuticles it's like nothing ever changed." And in case you're wondering, CTI says dogs definitely miss their jewels: "Would he know if his foot was cut off? Of course he would -- it's only common sense.")

And so, just because some folks project their own sex lives (or lack of same) onto their pets, the rest of us are putting up with litter after litter of shit machines who are destined to bear their own future litters upon litters.

"People know what to do, it's getting them to do it," Hodges says. "I think it's like smoking -- it took 20 years for it to get from this image of you had to do it to be sexy to 'It's like kissing an ashtray.' The country had to be bombarded with it. And that's what it's going to have to take with getting the message out about spaying and neutering."

Twenty years? Surely people will wake up to the need before then. Maybe BARC will even shape up before then. (Dr. Einstein? Hello?)

Neither seems likely at this point. Dogs and cats will continue to propagate rampantly, BARC will continue to admit it's been screwing things up and promise to do better in the future, and the rest of us will have to deal with the fallout.

But there has to be a better solution. A Fido Solution.

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