We went for an interview at the local animal shelter this morning to see about fostering cats, which we will do, both to help deal with our rat problem and to be responsible citizens and, like Dot in Raising Arizona, so that I got something small enough to cuddle. The lady who worked there was one of the more passionate charity workers I've ever met and after five minutes I realized why: she's British.
Now I make my fun of the Inselaffen, and out of all of the Germanic countries Affen Insel is far and away the most banana-republicky. But one thing I will say for them: they are bloody marvellous with animals. I understand the notoriety attached to fox hunting, which is indeed repellent, but it's important to bear in mind that fox hunters and their advocates represent a tiny minority of the population, most of whose majority doesn't even like foxes much and yet still considers the practice fuckin' barbaric, to the point of having it criminalized.
Australia, however . . . well. There are lots of parallels between Australian culture and Inselaffen culture, probably far far more than your typical Australian would dream of admitting or even imagining, but a touching and laudable concern for animal welfare is not one of them. For me there are two fiscal/legal situations that illustrate this to a degree so disturbing and repellent that I understand I'm now less likely to stay in this country than I was before discovering them.
1). Australia, as is well-known, is rotten with invasive animals, including feral cats and dogs. It is a real ecological problem. My favourite associated ecological problem, though my personal opinion is that it's more of a thing than a problem, are all of the ethical and eugenetic issues swirling around dingos, in a way they don't swirl around canines in Canada.
Briefly, if a dog in the wilds of Canada runs into a wolf or coyote, there is the biological possibility of reproduction, as genetically speaking dogs, coyotes, and wolves are all a single canine species capable of making fertile babies. However, what is much more likely is that the dog will be eaten, and the odds of sexual congress are poor for that reason. And also poor because lady wolves and coyotes in our wintercentric land only hit oestrus seasonally, which cuts down on the scope for lovin' somewhat (though my understanding is that usually these sorts of interbreeds are boy wolves/coyotes/dingos doing it with a bitch - sort of a much more S&Mish version of Lady and the Tramp).
Here in Australia, however, if a feral dog and a dingo meet up, generally the feral dog will get eaten, but there is far more scope than there is with coyotes and wolves for sparks to fly and babies to get made, especially since both dogs and dingos hit oestrus many times over the year. After all dingos, in the final analysis, amount to multi-generational ferals; they were brought to the continent as domestics, and had no one to fuck but each other, that is, other feral domestics.
The issue here, though, is that dingos are a discrete group, with cultural meanings to the aboriginal people, and recognized as fundamentally separate from other feral domestic dogs even though every indication is that they were imported to Australia by aboriginal people as domestic dogs. So there is a broad feeling that when a dingo fucks a domestic dog and they make dongo or whatever babies, this is some sort of pollution of the dingo gene pool going on. This is a particularly Australian problem as in the rare instances where a coyote or a wolf fucks a dog and makes babies with it in Canada, there's little idea of some sort of pollution of the coyote or wolf gene pool, and several dog breeds popular in Canada are very, very wolfy in their provenance; my understanding is that hybridizing wolves and dogs there for commercial purposes is illegal but in those instances where a bitch gets herself fucked instead of eaten by a wolf her babies are in hot demand . . .
Oh, how I've blathered and haven't even yet got beyond the background exposition of the first point, which is actually about subsidizing desexing. More bitching about Australia tomorrow.