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Who’s Teaching the Morals, Here?

Written by PETA | August 25, 2008
vannattabros / CC

I’m having a hard time typing this with a straight face, but scientists at the University of Vienna have recently released a study claiming that, in the words of a news article, “living with humans has taught dogs morals.” Apparently, the researchers attribute dogs’ sense of “fairness” to their contact with humans.

Are they drinking from their lab-bench pipettes again? I mean, don’t you always think of dogs as exemplifying the finest attributes we look for in humans? Loyalty, love, and—of course—fairness … aren’t these qualities we can all learn from dogs? With all the human injustices—the wars, rapes, pillaging, cutting other people off in traffic, etc.—it seems a bit grandiose to claim that dogs learned their sense of fairness from us.

Consider this news story from Argentina: A 14-year-old girl abandoned her newborn baby outdoors, in winter, in the middle of the night. When the baby was found, she was being kept safe and warm—not by the human being who left her to die or by any other human but by a dog.

The dog, China, was keeping the baby girl safe among her own puppies and, perhaps seeing that she was weirdly hairless, had even covered her with a rag! Authorities theorize that China found the baby outdoors and carried her back inside. If not for China, the baby would have died unprotected against the cold outside.

So let me get this straight—who should learn from whom here?

Written by Amanda Schinke

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  • steven pep says:

    umm its acually up to the person whos reaing it to diside on there own being only 15 i dont really have much exsperiace with odd storys like this but this one cought my attention its amazing how animals could adaped to save a life of another species just because it was in need

  • Axel says:

    Dogs are funny. They can be lovely animals or aggressive and territorial. Both have been welcome additions around my house. Dogs can be gentle but they can also tear another animal’s throat out. What do people think wolves do in the wild? Eat tree bark? Humans can be gentle dogs can be gentle. Humans can be violent dogs can be violent. To suggest that a dog picked up morality from simply identifying humans as a member of its pack is silly because dogs have a different mindset to us unfettered by morality. So for all those disparaging your own species know that a “loving animal” like a dog is only a few millenia removed from a creature that would shred your throat out if it thought it could just to get a meal. Meanwhile the very species you insult are capable of learning understanding thinking reasoning…

  • Antigone1000 says:

    Well said Blu! Great story…

  • S says:

    Human is the most cruel living thing in this world. If some animal has learned something good from people I really wanna see that. Dogs don’t start wars like we do. Dogs don’t kill for fun like we do. Dogs only kill for food people think it is a good hobby to kill animals for nothing. Dogs never have done these things. How on earth can anyone say that they learned any good thing from us?

  • Blu says:

    When I left for college my cat got depressed. Whenever I would visit my uncle’s house whom I had left her with he had a Maine Coon that she fell in love with and I thought having another cat around might help with the seperation I would always find her in a rocking chair on the front porch rocking back and forth. She wouldn’t leave my side during the visits and would follow my car when I would leave until she got to the bottom of the driveway where she would sit and watch me drive off. I would cry everytime. Here was an animal who had been through so much she was a rescue but still found a way to love a human. I was no longer in charge of feeding or taking care of her yet she still missed me and showed me much love every time I saw her. Animals don’t need for humans to teach them these traits they are inherent in any living creature. We all have souls and are capable of wonderful things. It amuses me when people tell me “Well it means you were a good owner.” No it means I was a good friend. I learned more from my cat than she ever learned from me. When she passed I knew it even though I wasn’t there. And boy did I feel horrible. I would have loved to have been by my friends’ side to say goodbye. I did not learn unconditional love from humans. We tend to teach the opposite. I learned it from my cat.

  • Antigone1000 says:

    Tony Thank God for people like you!! Otherwise dogs would have killed themselves off long ago. I’m sure you are keeping cows and pigs alive by eating them. What a great guy you are!

  • Antoine says:

    by “repetitive training” Tony? I agree that dogs may have learned certain things from us just as we have learned certain things from them. While I do not attribute any saintlike attributes to other species I certainly don’t think that dogs learned fairness from humanity. If anything perhaps dogs learned fairness from the cockroaches Tony perhaps you should consider that each one of your dogs on his own could EASILY rip you apart if they so wanted but they don’t do this because they have pledged themselves to you. Eventhough they could physically kill you they don’t they respect you eventhough you are acting arrogant cruel and superior. Because dogs are loyal and kind. They even tolerate your “repetitive training” How arrogant of you that you feel that YOU are the one who should tell your dogs how to behave? Tony I would suggest that “your” dogs learned their cruel and selfish behavior from you. Even in the wild while dogs may appear to be harsh with one another by human standards they ALWAYS take care of every member of the clan and certainly do not allow a member to starve. Maybe Tony you should try learning from your dogs and try to develop a REAL relationship with them rather than trying to “train” them.

  • Mike Quinoa says:

    Humans intuitively understand morality but we can always rationalize our way out of it if it serves our selfinterests.

  • Tony says:

    Dogs are definitely NOT fair. Dogs are constantly fighting for pack leadership role. If it was not for my intervention my two dogs would fight over their meals even though they each have a bowl. Most of the time one dog will assume ownership over both bowls and leave nothing for the other. In fact by repetitive training I have taught them to be fair with their food.

  • lynda downie says:

    Exactly Amanda! Here’s an excerpt from Richard Ryder’s book Animal Revolution of an eyewitness account of a 17th C vivisector Dr.Magendie “Magendie alas! performed experiments in public and sadly too often at the College de France. I remember once amongst other instances the case of a poor dog the roots of whose spinal nerves he was about to expose. Twice did the dog all bloody and mutilated escape from his implacable knife and twice did I see him put his forepaws around Magendie’s neck and lick his face. I confess laugh vivisectors if you please that I could not bear this sight.” Hmmm yeah dogs are learning morality from humans?!

  • Lourdes Weisgerber says:

    Those scientists are probably high on all that phormaldehyde they smell all day.

  • Sydney Shepherd says:

    That in a horrible little nutshell just says so much about what I cannot stand about human attitudes toward other living beings on this Earth…such airs of smug “moral” righteousness such ENTITLEMENT complexes. GAH! Wouldn’t it be great to take even a fraction of the taxpayer money spent on funding this asanine “survey” and instead spend it on helping kids know how to make better choices than having babies at 14 yrs. old??? Nahhh…

  • Mike Quinoa says:

    There are countless examples of animals extemporaneously acting altruistically towards humans and towards other animal species. The books “Animal Miracles” Brad Steiger Sherry Hansen Steiger “Animal Angels” Stephanie Laland and “Peaceful KingdomRandom Acts of Kindness by Animals” Stephanie Laland are chockfull of case studies.

  • Gina says:

    When are humans going to lose this holier than thou superior attitude. why do some have to make sure me remain as the dominating species over others at all costs. I do belive alot of it is a sadistic need to take credit for everything to keep ‘lower species’ in their place. A significant change in attitudes won’t be seen by anyone who is alive now. That’s a shame but one day in the far fute people will look back on animal testing farm factories the way we slaughter horses dunp companion pets and think we are barbaric monsters.

  • Mary says:

    Wow that story from Argentina was beautiful! I think humans would do very well to take moral cues from animals. Animals are honest and loyal and love unconditionally and blindly. What a wonderful world this would be if we were more like the animals!

  • Christopher Fulkerson says:

    …perhaps but it seems more likely that we have learned from each other. Dogs are territorial and will fight…even without human intervention. But what we are forgetting is that dogs are bred to live with us and that they are probably more friendly because of this.

  • Siobhan Macelhiney says:

    Geez! We really do try to take credit for everything. This is just another example of how alienated human beings have become from the world around us. Whenever an animal exhibits a naturally wonderful trait it automatically becomes some kind of amazing wonder because most humans are so wrapped up in thinking they’re the only feeling intelligent creatures on the planet.

  • Dan says:

    If you haven’t already I’m thinking you should go ahead and write the uni a letter speaking your mind P

  • dave says:

    The story about the dog in Argentina is amazaing. They never said where the dog is now. Maybe PETA can step in and make sure the dog and her pups are taken care of.