Social Question

mazingerz88's avatar

Which will you choose to save, one child's life or a million dogs' lives?

Asked by mazingerz88 (27824points) June 16th, 2011

Clearly the question is theoretical, borne out of a recent conversation with a friend who expressed her disagreement on the billion dollar a year spent on pet care in the US.

At the same time, she acknowledged it’s also a matter of having the freedom to pursue that happiness that we all work hard to achieve and if caring for an animal serves that purpose, no one has the right to take that away.

Yet she can’t help but wonder as to how many children could that billion bucks be helped if people would forego pleasure in taking care of animals and focus them instead on maybe, human orphans?

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74 Answers


It depends. If the kid’s a horrible little brat and an incorrigible misfit, I’d much rather save the lives of the dogs.

_zen_'s avatar

I wouldn’t hesitate for an instant – humans before animals. Sorry peta people.

Aethelwine's avatar

A child can save another life when he grows older. An animal more than likely can’t.

zenvelo's avatar

I would save a child (or any human) instead of any number of dogs.

Dr_Lawrence's avatar

While humans come before dogs. As a pet owner, I recognize I can and do support causes that benefit humans, including children.

The either/or dichotomy implied in the question is spurious.

SavoirFaire's avatar

One million dogs.

@jonsblond Dogs save people’s lives all the time.

Bellatrix's avatar

Too hard to answer without more information about the dogs and the child. If saved the child might live in an area where it was doomed to live in poverty and continuing disease. The dogs could be dogs that are destined to be trained to be guide dogs, or trained to search for missing people, or find bombs or drugs.

Aethelwine's avatar

@SavoirFaire Of course they do.But not as much as humans do, every day.

wow. and I can’t believe the animal love over a human life on this thread

SavoirFaire's avatar

@jonsblond Humans as a group save many lives, but very few individual humans save lives. Same goes for dogs, of course, but my point is that the ability to save lives is not really something only we have. And let’s not forget our tendency towards taking lives.

Anyway, my choice has nothing to do with animal life versus human life. Other things being equal, I value one human life more than one animal life. I do not, however, value one human life more than one million animal lives (again, other things being equal). Both are valuable, and neither trumps the other.

Aethelwine's avatar

@SavoirFaire I believe one human can do more for this planet than a million dogs. We’ll have to agree to disagree, I guess.

Hibernate's avatar

AT the first look a million dogs.

If you were to elaborate maybe I’d save the kid though I doubt it. Even if he was the new Newton I wouldn’t bother letting so much dogs die.

Coloma's avatar

Hmm, lets see, I just spent $800 on my cat, and gave my daughter $500 to help her out with some stuff. So, I guess I have done my share for both pets & children this month. lol

SavoirFaire's avatar

@jonsblond Can? Sure. Will? Depends. But again, that’s not how I’m making my decision. I don’t think the value of a life lies solely in how many other lives it saves or what it does for the planet.

Aethelwine's avatar

Honestly, this disgusts me. There are people here who value the life of a dog over a human?

SavoirFaire's avatar

@jonsblond No. Not a dog over a human. One million lives over one life. I’d also save a dozen roses over Pol Pot.

WestRiverrat's avatar

Child first.

FutureMemory's avatar

What breed(s) are we talking about here?

Your_Majesty's avatar

A million cats lives. I think humans are also animals so I dislike the idea that we must care more about our own species than other species and let discrimination to occur.

Who brought those domesticated pets into our community? Us. So it’s been our responsibility ever since. Both human and animals need population control.

Aethelwine's avatar

If a child was drowning and two dogs were drowning at the same time, those of you who don’t discriminate, you would save the dogs, not the child? srsly?

Bellatrix's avatar

That’s not what the question asks though @jonsblond. I can see this question and some of our responses are upsetting you, but speaking for myself, I answered the question. It isn’t black and white for me. I am quite sure most people in the scenario you describe would save the child. Given the job of deciding on the death of one child or a million dogs, I for one would need to know more about the individuals involved. It wouldn’t be so cut and dried as to say, save the child purely because it is a human.

Aethelwine's avatar

let’s throw some sugar on it and call it cinnamon toast, please. Sorry. I would save one child over 3 gazzilion ants, would you?

oh, that’s right, ants aren’t as cute as Spot

FutureMemory's avatar

Thinking outside the box for a second…

Could I do whatever I wanted with the dogs? Tens of thousands of children die every day from starvation – I would consider saving the dogs if I could guarantee they’d be fed to dying people.

augustlan's avatar

For me, it would have to be the child, even if the animals in questions were cats (which I prefer over dogs). While I value all life, I do put human life first. Obviously, this is all hypothetical, because I would certainly save my cat(s) with my money, before I’d think to let the cat die so I could donate the saved money to a children’s charity.

You could ask this about any number of things, though. Would you save a child’s life rather than, say, ever eat in a restaurant, go see a movie, or have a beer again ? There are always better things we could be doing with our money (well, in a 1st world country, generally, at least). We could decide to live on a subsistence diet, in a tiny shack, and donate all of the extra money. How many are really willing to do that, though?

Stinley's avatar

Animals are killed every day on my behalf and I know this when I tuck into my ham sandwich or my beef lasagne. I don’t eat dogs or cats or horses but I would if I had too. I eat the cute little lambs gambolling around in the field outside my house. I see a huge difference between my species and other species. I would never let a human die if at all possible.

ucme's avatar

“And it’s no sac…ri…fi…ce, just a simple word. It’s two hearts living, in two seperate worlds.”
Err, pet cemetary here we come ;¬}

AshLeigh's avatar

Touch question… Depends on who the child is. And if any of those dogs are my dogs… It’d be hard. :/

ragingloli's avatar

Even though I hate dogs, I hate humans even more, I would probably save the dogs. If it were cats we are talking about, it would definitely be the cats.

cookieman's avatar

The child.

The domestication of dogs (and cats and bunnies…) has elevated them to human status in the eyes of many “civilized” societies. The little sweaters and comfy beds and chew toys convince us this is reality.

A trip to an outdoor market in Guangxiou, China or an Italian butcher here in Boston’s North End will alleviate you of that illusion right quick.

Cruiser's avatar

The child of course. A child could go on and do many wonderful things and of all adopt and give shelter and love to an abandoned homeless dog.

lucillelucillelucille's avatar

The child’s life.
Humans are more important than animals.

zenvelo's avatar

For those who would save a million dogs, what is the tipping point at which you would save dogs over one human child: 100? 1,000? 50,000?

meiosis's avatar

I’m an unreconstructed species-ist – save the child every time.

syz's avatar

This question is based on a faulty premise. I don’t see how being appalled by resources being spent on pets correlates to an arbitrary choice between the life of a child or one million canines. There’s no feasible situation that could result in such a choice. Apples to oranges. We spend more on housing inmates – would you ask if we should sacrifice one million criminals to save one child? One million elderly? The cattle industry? How about how much is spent on video games -why not make them illegal and spend the savings on children’s issues? You see the point I’m trying to make?

Pets are a luxury, a responsibility, and a great joy to a great many people. Ideally, only those who have the inclination and ability to properly care for a pet would be pet owners. Sadly, that’s not the state of our world.

Children are a luxury, a responsibility, and a great joy to a great many people. Ideally, only those who have the inclination and ability to properly care for a child would be parents. Sadly, that’s not the state of our world.

(And by the way, while I too would choose a human life over an animal life, I feel that I must point out that humans are merely animals. We happen to have bigger brains and more highly developed societies, but we’re still just animals.)

cazzie's avatar

@syz Children are a luxury?? Children are not a luxury. Holy cow. I feel sorry for any society that has lead to the development of that attitude.

I´d absolutely save a child before a dog. I love dogs, but even comparing a dog with a child is offensive to me.

syz's avatar

@cazzie I strongly believe that if you can’t afford to care for a child properly, then you shouldn’t have one. Why would an adult want to bring a child into the world that will go hungry, lack adequate medical care, suffer lack of educational opportunities? Why would you do that to a child? That qualifies as luxury to me. Would I attempt to take away someone’s right to have a child? Hell, no. But I would hope that a potential parent would be selfless enough to make the right decision. And it’s not as if we have a shortage.

Coloma's avatar

Most of us wouldn’t have been born if our parents could have afforded us at the time. lol
And, as far as pets, well, in my opinion, if one can afford the basics, vaccines, spaying/neutering, good food and the animal has a great home for months, years
and then, perhaps due to the ever changing circumstances of life, an expensive situation arises that forces the owner to choose putting down the pet because they cannot afford the costly vet bills to fix, cure, or manage a condition….well….better all those happy months and years than being gassed in a shelter at 8 weeks old, or left on the street.

I am big on living in the present.

No one knows what the future holds, and to hold off on doing anything because of some vague ” what if…” down the road is neurotic.

I could say ” Wow, I’m 50 now, if I get a pet it’s getting to the point where it could, possibly, outlive me..” Yeah, so?

Or, I can live to be 97 and have 46 more years of loving pets in my life. lol

One can’t predict the future, you act on whats happening now, is likely to continue happening, and do your best.

cazzie's avatar

I know that my family is more likely to help out with each other´s kids than each other´s pets. Kids are a proper part of a family, and I understand attachment and love of pets, but a niece and nephew or cousin´s kids would be saved and cared for before a dog. Kids aren´t a luxury, they´re family. Is your family a luxury? I´m from a HUGE family and couldn´t picture it any other way.

I´m glad I live in a country that doesn´t punish the kids for being born poor, and people don´t have to beg on the streets for money to feed veterans.. (holy cow, what´s that about, I nearly cried.)

Coloma's avatar

Yes, well, again, it depends on what one considers being able to ‘afford.’

If you cannot squeeze out diaper money, formula and health care for a baby, then, you should wait, if it means I can’t send my child to Harvard, oh well!

If you can’t afford a 5k surgery for a pet but it has enjoyed some happy years with you, oh well again.

SavoirFaire's avatar

“The question is not, Can they reason? nor, Can they talk? but, Can they suffer?”
—Jeremy Bentham

@jonsblond I would save one child over two dogs. It’s not a purely quantitative matter. And like I said, I’d save a dozen roses over Pol Pot. Is human life really such an absolute value that you’d save a genocidal maniac over an innocent animal? I doubt it. As for the ants, they are not conscious beings and cannot be persons in the moral sense.

There are a lot of things worth dying for. If I had the choice between my life or the lives of a bacteria colony that could cure cancer, I’d save the bacteria colony. I’m just not that important in the long run.

@zenvelo 97.3265

Ask a stupid question, get a stupid answer.

Coloma's avatar

I’d save the animal over the human in certain cases, such as saving the drowning dog over the bouncing baby Ted Bundy. Hands down! lol

chyna's avatar

The child. My friend who just had twins two weeks ago has one of the twins in the hospital fighting for his life at this very minute. I’m just so sick for them. I wish there was something I could do.

syz's avatar

@cazzie “I´m glad I live in a country that doesn´t punish the kids for being born poor” You’re absolutely right, the children deserve assistance, deserve a chance at a decent life. But do you truly believe that everyone should just pop out kids willy-nilly, regardless of their circumstances, and that the rest of society should bear the burden? If there were fewer children in need, wouldn’t we have more resources for the ones that do need us? Aren’t we punishing those who make careful decisions and rewarding those who are irresponsible?

Plucky's avatar

A million dogs. For the same reasons @SavoirFaire stated.

Amazebyu's avatar

The baby, Bo doubt. What am I going to do with a million dogs?

Bellatrix's avatar

What if the million dogs were made up of:-

Service dogs that help those with disabilities such as vision, hearing, seizure victims (and other disabilities) to live full lives.

Therapy dogs that are taken to hospitals with sick children, old people in nursing homes, work with people in juvenile detention centres and prisons, or are specifically employed to help lift the spirits of the lonely and depressed.

Herding dogs and livestock guardians that help farmers to manage their flocks and protect those animals from attacks by predators.

Police dogs that help officers carry out arrests, investigate arson and drug crimes. These dogs on occasions save the lives of officers who are attacked in the field.

Search and rescue dogs. Dogs that go out and find people lost in the woods, bush, during floods, volcanoes, earthquakes.

Military dogs that sniff out mines, or go in before our bomb disposal experts, who check out tunnels or seek out other explosive devices. These dogs save many lives in the military.

What if these dogs were included in the million? Between them as they go about their work they save the lives of not only service personnel but also civilian lives as they help to make sure there aren’t bombs on the flights we take, in buildings we might visit.

All dogs are not equal. Even if the million was only drawn from the fluffy, pets we have in our homes, how often have those pets alerted families to fires or to someone needing help or protected us from criminals.

As I said, need more information before I can say yes, let’s save the one child over a million dogs. Some of these dogs save more than one person in their lives.

chocolatechip's avatar

@cazzie I´d absolutely save a child before a dog. I love dogs, but even comparing a dog with a child is offensive to me.

It is not one child to one dog, it is one child to a million dogs. Do you understand just how many lives that is? I would save a single child over a single dog, but a million dogs I would have to think twice about. Your disregard for life is equally offensive.

cazzie's avatar

@chocolatechip are you a parent?

markylit's avatar

I think I’d save the child.

SavoirFaire's avatar

@cazzie Red herring. It’s not your child. But I asked some parents: they were split on whether they would save one child or one million dogs (four chose the child, three chose the dogs).

Aethelwine's avatar

@SavoirFaire I see. Then you won’t mind if I let your child die so I can go save some doggies.

SavoirFaire's avatar

@jonsblond I am not arguing against partiality. I obviously would mind. If I were given a choice between saving my child and an entire continent’s worth of people, the decision would be excruciating. I imagine Eva Braun would be upset if you went back in time to kill her husband before he had a chance to commit genocide, too. But partiality is a bit of a wild card in moral reasoning. We probably should favor those to whom we are partial to some extent. It very well might be a moral failing if we did not. But in a neutral case, like the one in the OP, it would also be a moral failing to inject partiality into a place where it does not exist.

mattbrowne's avatar

One child’s life.

Nullo's avatar

The child. People > animals.

KNOWITALL's avatar

The child. Even though in life, I consistantly chose dogs over children to share my life.

cazzie's avatar

This is such a crazy question. One Million Dogs. I can think of governments who would choose to save the dogs, simply because the cost of burying one child would cost much less than somehow disposing of the corpses of one million dogs.

I STILL stick by my answer. I chose the child. I will always chose the child. I am a mother and a caretaker of hundreds of children. I see the potential in their faces and their promise and their compassion. I know that one of THEM would find a way to make sure that this is question NEVER becomes a reality. I can not say the same of the dogs.

Patton's avatar

A million dogs, for many reasons. There’s already too many humans. The current situation isn’t sustainable, and that’s with large portions of the population living in horrible poverty. There aren’t enough resources to provide for all the people we’ve already got, and not just because some people don’t know how to share.

Also, I don’t get what makes humans so special. We’re really asking about saving one million animals or one animal. Is the difference supposed to be souls? I don’t believe in those. Intelligence? Put a black dog, a brown dog, and a white dog in a room and they’ll play. They won’t separate themselves from each other because of their color. You can’t say the same about humans, so who’s really smarter?

I don’t care what you’d choose. If you’re really fond of human beings and find yourself having to make this decision, choose the child. What I don’t get is all the judgment aimed at people who would make a different choice for reasons that are no worse than anyone else’s. That’s another great thing about dogs. They don’t feel the need to get all high and mighty over a difference in opinion.

@cazzie That just looks like a lot of emotional reasoning and demonizing of the opposition. And it doesn’t even make sense. The child would find a way to make sure the question never becomes a reality? It’s not going to become a reality anyway. It’s a hypothetical question. If we ever faced it, it would mean your darling children had already failed to keep it from becoming a reality.

cazzie's avatar

@Patton The OP seemed very very serious in their proposition of this and even personally replied and attacked my answers, much like you are doing. I love dogs. I have no idea how you think I am demonizing anyone. I think you are.

mazingerz88's avatar

Excuse me? Did I really…attack anyone?

cazzie's avatar

@mazingerz88 sorry… i didn’t mean that part… that the OP attacked my answers, but that those with the opposing view did attack my answers and took this question very seriously. My apologies for not paying better attention when writing my response.

mazingerz88's avatar

Lol. My present avatar happens to be a perfect fit for someone who could have easily forgotten “attacking” someone. : )

Patton's avatar

@cazzie So what if it’s serious? That doesn’t change it from being hypothetical. A question can be both hypothetical and serious. My point was that talking about some child preventing the question from becoming reality is irrelevant. If we’re facing the question, the child has already failed. I’m not sure how you missed that.

And I didn’t attack your answer. I disagreed with it. I don’t get why so many people on Fluther think they have the right never to hear a word of opposition. Disagreement is part of discussion. Disagreeing isn’t demonizing either, but talking about why a government might choose the dogs and not considering any reason other than cold detachment that someone might choose differently than you would looks a lot more like it.

Pooh54's avatar

Sorry all you that have children. I would save a million dogs in a heartbeat. As they would save a million children.
@cazzie just look into a dog’s eyes and tell me what you see. It isn’t disappointment, it isn’s anger, it is unconditional love. We should all be so lucky to share that.

Dutchess_III's avatar

For all those who say they’d chose the dogs over a child….what if it was YOUR child vs a million dogs?

ragingloli's avatar

Still the dogs.

Dutchess_III's avatar

What about _your_l life, Raggie. Would you give it up to save a million dogs?

ragingloli's avatar

The reason for my answer was my unbound fiery hatred of children, which is immeasurably bigger than my hate for dogs, which is still quite substantial.
I would of course let the dogs die to save my own hide.
after which I would indulge in my zoo-necrophilic urges

Dutchess_III's avatar

You are so sick! But I expect no less, lovey!

SavoirFaire's avatar

@Dutchess_III For my own part, I addressed your question here.

Dutchess_III's avatar

You really up the ante when you change it from a bunch of dogs to an entire continent of people. I guess I’d sacrifice my own life first so I wouldn’t have to make that decision.

SavoirFaire's avatar

@Dutchess_III The point I’m trying to make there is about the role of partiality. I do think we owe more to members of our own species than to members of other species. I also think we owe more to our family members than to distant strangers. This is why I take the question “would you save your child over one million dogs?” to be a very different question from “would you save any single child over one million dogs?” But I don’t think these connections are dispositive. We can owe enough to a sufficiently large number of others to dissipate the role of closeness. My own life is precious to me. I cannot do anything without it. But there are things worth dying for, and there are things worth sacrificing for. My partiality towards myself is not so great that I recognize no limits on the value of my own survival. Maybe this is irrational, but I don’t think it is.

Dutchess_III's avatar

For myself, every child I see I envision them, their life. I feel it in my heart. When I see a soldier dead on the battlefield I think of that same soldier as a toddler. I see my own son. Granted, my own kids are more important to me than other people’s kids, but I still don’t think I could say “OK, God (who whomever) pick a kid to kill. I just don’t want to know who it is.”

No, you’re not irrational. Spock may think so, but I don’t.

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