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Animal Advocacy Instagram Account Draws Ire Saying Service Dogs Are Unfair Animal Labor

Update: On Sunday, Anonymous for the Voiceless doubled down on its “abolitionist” stance against service animals in a new Instagram post, saying expecting animals to “serve” humans is what’s really ableist. “Many people claim ableism if a vegan is against the use of service animals, forgetting that breeding a species of lower IQ than us to be servile and then expecting them to “work” for us is what is truly ableist,” the group wrote. The new post prompted additional outrage from the disability community.

If you need and use a service dog or other service animal, one animal advocacy organization wants you to know you’re not truly vegan — and don’t care about animal rights.

On Wednesday, the vegan group Anonymous for the Voiceless (AV) posted on Instagram (and later Facebook) that veganism means rejecting any “use” of “non-human animals” by humans. Typically this is understood as not eating food derived from animals or opposing products that use animals or perform tests on animals. AV, however, suggested this should extend to opposing the “use” of disability service dogs and other service animals.

“The key word here is ‘use.’ They are not, and never were, here for us to use. Non-human animals owe us absolutely nothing,” AV wrote on Instagram, adding:

When we adopt non-humans as our companions, we can save them from further exploitation. To continue to use them as tools for human purposes after adoption goes wholly against vegan principles. Therefore, we remain opposed to the use of animals (such as dogs) for human service, even if the animals were NOT bought from a breeder.⁠

Service dogs and the like are still a WANT and not a need. And regardless of treatment, the use of any animal for service promotes the idea that animals are here to work for humans rather than to exist in their own right as individuals.⁠

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The default position of veganism is to reject the use of non-human animals. This includes ALL uses, including service animals.⁠ ⁠ The key word here is “use.” They are not, and never were, here for us to use. Non-human animals owe us absolutely nothing.⁠ ⁠ Yet some believe humans do have the right to have certain animals and individuals serve us; therefore, they domesticate them for this purpose. But domestication does not involve consent by all those involved, and there is unequal power in the relationship. Just because individuals CAN be trained to serve us does not mean that they SHOULD.⁠ ⁠ When we adopt non-humans as our companions, we can save them from further exploitation. To continue to use them as tools for human purposes after adoption goes wholly against vegan principles. Therefore, we remain opposed to the use of animals (such as dogs) for human service, even if the animals were NOT bought from a breeder.⁠ ⁠ Service dogs and the like are still a WANT and not a need. And regardless of treatment, the use of any animal for service promotes the idea that animals are here to work for humans rather than to exist in their own right as individuals.⁠ ⁠ If we haven’t already made the point clear, under no circumstances should ANY non-human be used at the hands of humans.⁠ ⁠ #servicedogs #speciesism #animalrights #veganactivism #vegan #vegansofIG⁠

A post shared by Anonymous for the Voiceless (@anonymousforthevoiceless) on

While many supported the notion, AV’s post drew outrage from disability advocates, who called out AV for ableism, not considering a service dog’s well-being and showing a lack of compassion for the disability community in particular.

“I understand the point,” commented @save.the.noodles on AV’s Instagram post, continuing:

But even if you took away the title ‘service dog’ most of them would still be incredibly loyal and helpful (on a completely voluntary basis) towards their owner. I understand that you are against mistreatment of (in this case) service animals but most of the time it’s dogs and they do it completely voluntarily. It’s like telling a friend to stop helping their [ill] friend, since they’re not getting paid and they are being taken advantage of.

“No. No. No. this is ableist as fuck and I will not have it,” @amywritesbooks wrote. She added:

As a vegan with chronic illness, I comprehend the necessity for service animals (who are LOVED AND CARED FOR by their owners, btw) until you have walked a day in a disabled person’s life, you do not get to say what is necessary for them and what is not. Service animals are not abused. This message is incredibly hurtful to all the disabled vegans/nonvegans out there. … Disabled people are treated less than their abled peers time and time again and there is no reason service animals should be abolished when they are treated with so much respect and care.

“You don’t take advantage of [service dogs] though,” @balto_chihuahuamix responded to AV’s post. “And in your post you said they are a ‘want’ no they really aren’t. People with disabilities need them to live if they can’t be treated. Dogs love to work and I really really do hope this post is a joke.”

“You know that if a dog didn’t wanna be a service dog, it wouldn’t be, right?” @good.boy.theodore responded, saying:

If a dog doesn’t wanna work, it won’t! When it comes to service dogs, there’s usually no sort of force. Dogs pretty much choose their careers… Please educate yourself more before posting offensive crap like this. I guess if someone has dangerous seizures a lot they shouldn’t have a service dog who can sense them beforehand and prevent them? you do know that dogs can naturally alert, right? and naturally work without training?

Instagram account @crafts_for_animals wrote:

So you want all disabled people to sit in the house all day? You never want to see disabled people? And you basically want all disabled people to die judging your comments. I am disabled and vegan and I seriously hope you never have to put up with what I have had to in my life, your lack of compassion for disabled people is disgusting.

In response to a Facebook comment calling out AV’s stance as ableist, the group suggested it wasn’t interested in any argument other than complete justice for animals, compassion is not enough. Service animals, AV argued, are not a “necessity.”

“If you know about our principles, you’ll know that we say veganism is NOT about compassion,” AV commented. “Veganism is about justice. It’s not about love, it’s not about compassion, and it’s certainly not about human feelings — ESPECIALLY the feelings of those who support animal use!”

Animal rights organization PETA told The Mighty in a statement its organization generally supports service dogs who are trained in positive programs and matched with caring families for life, but highlighted some breeders and bad actors can lead dogs to face harm. PETA said:

Animal-assisted therapy programs can be wonderful for dogs who are adopted from shelters, are trained through positive reinforcement, and live in people’s homes as permanent members of the family — such as hearing dogs for the deaf placed through groups such as the Sam Simon Foundation and other programs that carefully screen prospective human companions to ensure that the animals will be well cared for and loved for their entire lives. But people should be wary of programs that breed dogs, contributing to the homeless-animal overpopulation crisis, and may discard puppies who are deemed unsuitable. Dogs in some programs may also face repeated abandonment, as they’re raised with one family, given to another, and retired with yet another.

For people with disabilities and other health conditions, service dogs and other service animals play a crucial role in well-being, safety and access to parts of the world people without disabilities take for granted.

Guide dogs help people with visual impairments safely navigate public spaces. Service dogs can alert owners with diabetes about a dangerously high sugar spike or assist people with epilepsy before, during and after a seizure. They can also calm trauma reactions in people with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

 

And as Mighty contributor Kaelynn Partlow wrote in her article, “12 Misconceptions About Service Dogs,” service dogs get plenty of love, lots of time to play and live a high-quality life. Partlow wrote:

Being a working dog is arguably the best life a dog could have. They’re able to be with their handlers almost all the time, no matter where they go. They have a job and a purpose and most get a higher quality of care than many humans. They get to play like any other dog.

The Mighty reached out to Anonymous for the Voiceless and service dog organizations for comment and has yet to hear back.

Article updated July 5 to include a statement from PETA.

Header image via Anonymous for the Voiceless Instagram

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