Social Question

RealEyesRealizeRealLies's avatar

If forced to chose between the life of your pet, and the life of a stranger, how would you chose?

Asked by RealEyesRealizeRealLies (30938points) January 14th, 2012

Your dog/cat/pet and a complete stranger are all drowning in a swimming pool.

Who would you save first?

Observing members: 0 Composing members: 0

65 Answers

ragingloli's avatar

My pet of course.
Cats are more valuable than humans.

rebbel's avatar

The stranger has a lucky day, cos my pet died recently.

Aster's avatar

I would save the person. Why? Because they probably have family who loves him or her and depend upon them. But I won’t be so pious as to say I wouldn’t do some quick soul searching before deciding since I love my pets so much.

Michael_Huntington's avatar

@rebbel Sorry to hear that. My condolences.

chyna's avatar

Human wins. I loved my pet very much, (I lost her recently, too) but a human life is more important. Of course, once I got the stranger out of the water, I’d jump back in for my pet.

rooeytoo's avatar

I have found my dog to be a better human being than most human beings so I would save my dog.

digitalimpression's avatar

I would save the person.

You don’t find a lot of people saving their pet cow that gets slaughtered and put into the supermarket in shiny packaging.. but if the animal is “cute” suddenly it deserves to live more than a human being. Ridiculous.

rebbel's avatar

@Michael_Huntington Thanks, that is kind of you.

Aster's avatar

@digitalimpression very intriguing answer! lol

Aethelflaed's avatar

I much prefer my pets over most people, so pets.

selfe's avatar

Most people around the hypothetical swimming pool are working to save the person so I would definitely go for the animal (be it dog, cat, cow, etc.). If I could help the person too at the same time, I would of course.

chyna's avatar

@selfe What if you are the only person there?

linguaphile's avatar

Human, or if I can, both. But if the human fights and tries to pull me under with him, my kitty wins.

TheInnocentOne's avatar

I would choose the stranger first, seeing as how we are both members of the same species.

selfe's avatar

@chyna Pet first, person second because otherwise animals usually draw the shorter straw. And why would my cat be in the swimming pool anyhow?

mangeons's avatar

I would be wondering why my guinea pig, a stranger, and I are all at a swimming pool and why we’re the only ones there.

I would probably save the stranger though.

Neizvestnaya's avatar

My pet has given nothing but love to me and everyone around him, consistently for 10yrs. I’ve met very few humans capable of the same. I’m saving my little buddy first.

dappled_leaves's avatar

The stranger, every time.

Charles's avatar

The complete stranger. You could be held for negligent homicide otherwise and you can always get another dog or cat.

selfe's avatar

@Charles You could really be liable just by being a bystander? I have never heard of that. Besides, if I lose my pet, getting “another dog or cat” will not solve that.

RealEyesRealizeRealLies's avatar

@mangeons “I would be wondering why my guinea pig, a stranger… are all at a swimming pool… ”

They were fighting over a crouton and fell in during the scuffle. Now you gotta pick one to save.

mangeons's avatar

@RealEyesRealizeRealLies But why were the three of us the only ones at the pool in the first place? Sounds a little sketchy to me…

RealEyesRealizeRealLies's avatar

While you’re wondering why you are all there in the first place… They both drowned. Fuggedaboudit.

mangeons's avatar

Well maybe this stranger should have learned how to swim in the first place! Then it wouldn’t be an issue.

Mariah's avatar

It would absolutely destroy me, but I’d have to choose the stranger. Not personally knowing a person doesn’t make their life less valuable.

OpryLeigh's avatar

I really don’t know. I can’t lie that my dogs mean the absolute world to me and, as much as I am probably going to get stick for this, I would probably attempt to save my pet first. In that situation I probably wouldn’t be thinking clearly and would be selfish in my decision. My head tells me I should save the human but my heart would be fighting against that logic.

Whilst it’s a controversial opinion, I don’t believe humans to be more important than other species which is why I couldn’t honestly say that my first thought would be to save the human.

@digitalimpression I think the difference between the meat in the supermarkets and our pets is that we don’t get attached to the meat we buy because we rarely meet it before it dies. I, personally could not kill and eat a cow if I had the kind of relationship with it that we do with dogs, cats etc. I wouldn’t kill and eat anything that I had spent time with like a pet.

rooeytoo's avatar

To be perfectly honest, I think it is unreasonable to be expected to place more value on the life of a random unknown creature who has 2 legs than one I love who just happens to have 4. I have met a lot more unworthy humans than dogs in my lifetime.

What would really make the decision difficult is if I had to choose between 2 creatures (regardless of how many legs they might have) I know and love.

JilltheTooth's avatar

I have visions of all the “I’d save my pet” people in the pool, drowning, barely conscious, thinking “No, no, I’m not worthy…save your pet, first!”...Yeah, right.

Ayesha's avatar

@rebbel I’m so sorry.
I’d choose my pet. 100 percent.

WillWorkForChocolate's avatar

Ummm… humans come first. Unless the stranger is conveniently wearing a sign that says, “I touch children”. Are you guys seriously saying you’d save an animal first, or are you being sarcastic?

Response moderated
linguaphile's avatar

Strategically dive into the pool at a spot where, when you swim, you swim past the pet, take it by its scruff, gently toss it out of the pool, then swim to the drowning human. That’s the optimal situation. That is assuming both of them are still struggling and getting gasps of air.

However, if I saw a struggling animal, and very still human, my mind tells me I’d be in panic over the human and not even notice the animal.

Charles's avatar

@Charles You could really be liable just by being a bystander? I have never heard of that.

From wikipedia:

A duty to rescue is a concept in tort law that arises in a number of cases, describing a circumstance in which a party can be held liable for failing to come to the rescue of another party in peril. However, in the United States, it is rarely formalized in statutes which would bring the penalty of law down upon those who fail to rescue. This does not necessarily obviate a moral duty to rescue: though law is binding and carries government-authorized sanctions, there are also separate ethical arguments for a duty to rescue that may prevail even where law does not punish failure to rescue.

From FindLaw

The general rule is that a person has no duty to rescue another person who is in peril. Even in an extreme situation, such as where an adult sees a child trapped on top of railroad tracks, courts generally hold that a person is under no duty to come to the aid of another. Courts, however, recognize several exceptions. These include the following:

The Defendant Created the Peril: Where the defendant’s negligence created the need for the plaintiff to be rescued, the defendant is generally under a duty to rescue the plaintiff.

Undertaking to Act: If a defendant begins to rescue a person but then stops, in some instances the defendant may be under a duty to continue the rescue. Most courts require that the defendant act reasonably once the rescue has begun. If a reasonable person would have continued to rescue the victim, then the defendant may have been under a duty to continue the rescue.

Special Relationship: A defendant may have the duty to rescue a person where the defendant has a special relationship with the victim, such as in an employer-employee or a school-student relationship.

RealEyesRealizeRealLies's avatar

My friend told me that if you avoid trying to rescue a human, and the human dies, then you are not liable. But if you attempt rescue, and the human dies anyway, then you could be held liable in some cases for that persons death.

I have no idea if that is true or not.

mangeons's avatar

@RealEyesRealizeRealLies I’m pretty sure there are Good Samaritan laws in many states/parts of Europe that say if your intentions are good then you are not held liable for the person’s death.

rooeytoo's avatar

Why do humans come first?I have never known a dog who was a serial killer, robbed old people, the list is endless, dogs do none of that, only humans.

Truly it would be a moral dilemma. I guess for the non pet lovers, a similar question creating a moral dilemma for them would be, all of your children are drowning, you can only save one, which one do you save. I know, I know, you are going to scream, they are all humans, how can this be similar, but in my mind the dilemma of trying to decide who gets saved and who doesn’t is similar.

@JilltheTooth – the question doesn’t say I and my pet are drowning, it says some stranger is drowning. I and my dog can both swim so I can’t envisage that situation.

JilltheTooth's avatar

Oh, dear @rooeytoo , if you didn’t know what I meant by that then I having been giving you way too much credit. Sorry.

mangeons's avatar

@rooeytoo That’s not the same as choosing between a pet and a stranger. In the question’s situation, you only love one of them. (Most) parents love all of their children equally and could never choose. Instead of choosing between the one you love and one you don’t love, that would be choosing between several things that you love.

And I would say that the human comes first for several reasons. Pets live much shorter lives, they don’t have as much ahead of them. They don’t have as many opportunities or as much potential. They don’t have an unknown number of friends, family, and acquaintances that would be devastated at their loss. Would you really cause all that suffering and end the life of a human just to save yourself some heartache?

dappled_leaves's avatar

I have been a pet lover all my life. My pets have been like family members to me; I still mourn those who have died. But I am still shocked to see so many people say here that they would choose their pet’s life above another human’s life.

chyna's avatar

@rooeytoo I understand your love of your pets, I loved mine too. But can you honestly tell me that if I came upon your husband, who is a stranger to me, (and this is hypothetical because the OP is hypothetical) and my dog in a pool, both of them drowning, and I was able to get my dog out, but not your husband, you are going to say, “that’s okay, I know your dog is important to you.”

rooeytoo's avatar

@JilltheTooth – oh dear, I guess you have been giving me way too much credit cuz I have no idea what your comment meant except what it said???

@mangeons – I said the moral dilemma created in the mind of the parent would be similar to the moral dilemma created in my mind by having to make the choice stated in the question.

@chyna – I don’t know what I would say but it doesn’t change my mind about whether I would save a strange human or a dog I love.

JilltheTooth's avatar

No, @rooeytoo , you didn’t read it, maybe you skimmed it, but you didn’t read it. If you like, I’ll parse it for you.

OpryLeigh's avatar

@JilltheTooth I understood what you meant and I see your point. However, I hope that I wouldn’t feel any resentment to someone if they decided to save their pet before me as I understand the love that people can have for their pet. I think this question all depends on whether you consider humans of higher importance than other animals and for those people that have been badly hurt by humans this probably wouldn’t be the case. I would be interested to know if the age of the person would influence their decision. I would probably be more inclined to save a child over my dog than a middle aged or elderly person for example.

JilltheTooth's avatar

The point, @Leanne1986 , is that it is a stranger. Some of the “would save my pet” folks go on about how they don’t like people, or people are serial killers or somesuch. People are also artists and musicians, savers of lives through research, therapists of physically disabled and emotionally troubled children, and, as @chyna pointed out, perhaps the dearly beloved ones of others who would save their pets. I get why people would rather save their pets, but I also think it’s ridiculously short-sighted and frankly absurd. And I really don’t believe that any of them would rather someone elses guinea pig be chosen for rescue over themselves.

OpryLeigh's avatar

@JilltheTooth Again, I understand your point and I don’t think the answers to this question can really be cut and dry. Like I said, if the stranger were a child then that would probably influence my decision more than an old person. On the flip side, what if an elderly person who had no family and only their dog for company tried to save their beloved pet over the stranger? Could you blame them? After all, those of us that have pets know that it isn’t as simple just to “go out and get another pet” as @Charles suggested. The truth is, until I am in this position where I have to make a very quick decision, I don’t know what I’ll do. I would probably try and save the one that is easiest to save without putting my own life in danger but I would feel more sadness over the death of my dog than the death of a stranger. I can’t deny that.

chyna's avatar

@Leanne1986 I can’t believe you would think the life of a child is more important than the life of an elderly person. All humans are vital.

JilltheTooth's avatar

Oh, good god, @Leanne1986 , I get the pet thing. I’ve been raising, training, rescuing and caring for dogs my entire life, and rescued buckets of cats. I always have, and love dearly, my pets. I have spent absurd amounts of energy and money on premium foods (that I research) and health care for my pets. I have wept uncontrollably at the decision to quietly put to sleep an animal whose suffering has become unbearable, and still agonized over and second-guessed my self in those cases. And I still would rescue the person without a qualm. I would grieve for the pet, and miss it horribly, and I know that no two are ever alike and that you can’t just “replace” them.
I am also a theist.
I also know that loving a pet is not the same as caring for one’s child.
By Fluther standards, that makes a some kind of deficient, I understand that, and I would still opt to save the human.
And I don’t believe for a minute that any of you would “understand” if someone opted to save their pet over you or a loved one.
I call absolute bullshit on that.
Geez

selfe's avatar

@mangeons I don’t think anybody here has suggested to “end the life of a human”. The answers are addressing who people would save first which is very different.

JilltheTooth's avatar

Actually, @selfe , the Q as written gives an either/or scenario, the details soften it up slightly. This is a classic “morality play”, a hypothetical that puts our principles to the test. In its classic form, it is an absolute choice.

rooeytoo's avatar

@JilltheTooth – wow you are in an interesting mood on this one. And please do, parse away for little old ignorant me. Your lofty turn of a phrase has apparently been lost on me. I still only see what you wrote.

Here we are in one of those situations where the “you gotta see it my way and I’m not quitting until you do” folks are criticizing and ridiculing those with a different opinion. You are the ones who bring me to the conclusion that my dog’s life is worth more than most humans.
I have not changed my mind, my dog comes first.

@chyna – “I can’t believe you would think the life of a child is more important than the life of an elderly person. All humans are vital.” I am with you on this one though, I always thought the save the women and children first was not right. I don’t consider anyone else to be more or less worthy than I, life is a crap shoot.

And thanks to those who would save me over their pet. I appreciate it even if your dog doesn’t think it is such a great idea, heheheh. Cuz after all, I am an artist, musician and basic good human being.

JilltheTooth's avatar

@rooeytoo: If you insist.
“I have visions of all the “I’d save my pet” people in the pool, drowning, barely conscious, thinking “No, no, I’m not worthy…save your pet, first!”...Yeah, right.”
Word by word or phrase by phrase? I’ll go with the latter, you can look up the words yourself. The first part means I have a picture in my mind’s eye of the people who would save their pets being in serious distress and possibly dying, in the pool. The part that says …save your pet…” is in quotes, denoting what the people in the pool would say while addressing the potential rescuer. The use of the 2nd person possessive indicates the pet of the potential rescuer, not your pet, @rooeytoo.
Your response directed at me: ”@JilltheTooth – the question doesn’t say I and my pet are drowning, it says some stranger is drowning. I and my dog can both swim so I can’t envisage that situation.” The question indicates that the potential rescuer is a stranger ro you, as you are to them. Also, if you think that because you know how to swim you can’t drown, then please be careful, you are very naive.
You are adamant about your way of thinking, and yet you seem to be surprised that I am about mine. Until you first addressed me, this was an intellectual exercise, all of us speaking in generalities, but since you want to make it about you and your response to the original Q, fine.

OpryLeigh's avatar

@JilltheTooth Chill out. So we don’t feel the same way but I’m not going to lie about who I would rather save in a hypothetical situation. I don’t know what I’d do if actually faced with this situation but I know what I’d rather do seeing as I am currently sat in my nice warm flat with my dog fast asleep next to me. I’m sorry you don’t like my honesty.

@chyna for goodness sake, I was just giving an example of how the situation isn’t cut and dry and that different circumstances may influence my decision. I don’t know what I’d do in this situation but, like I said, realistically I would probably save the one that was easiest regardless of who I’d rather save.

JilltheTooth's avatar

Like, not like is not the issue. I just don’t believe that any of you would so willingly sacrifice yourselves for someone elses pet.

OpryLeigh's avatar

I never said I would willingly sacrifice myself for someone’s pet but again, whilst I’m sat here, on my sofa, in my warm flat, not faced with a life or death situation, it is easy for me to say that I would understand why someone would rather save their pet than me, a stranger who they have no feelings for. Of course my feelingsld probably change if I was actually in this situation but I’m not so I can only say what I am thinking in my current situation.

SavoirFaire's avatar

Not to step too far into the lion’s den, but surely the question “would you sacrifice yourself to save someone else’s pet?” is different from the question “would you sacrifice someone else to save your pet?” Regardless of whether or not one wants to argue that the answers ought to be the same, the questions themselves seem to be different. They are only the same question under a very particular view of what moral decision making should look like, and even then they would only be functionally the same.

rooeytoo's avatar

@SavoirFaire – exactly, turning the question around that way, makes it a completely different question with a completely different moral dilemma.

This is not the same situation but another example of a moral dilemma centering around pets. Each year when we are under a cyclone threat people are forced to make agonizing decisions about pets. A lot of shelters do not allow pets, which I personally think is barbaric. Therefore many people choose not to go to a shelter, instead weathering out the storm at home with their pets. Ending up costing the powers that be much more in rescues, etc. than it would cost to allow pets in the shelters (in crates and under stringent controls). Last year when a catagory 5 was bearing down on us and in a no pet shelter area, we chose to evacuate, leave town, head inland with the dogs. Cost us a bundle but I would never quibble about the price we were all safe and sound and dry. Pity is that not everyone can afford to take the course of action we did. Bottom line is that pets are obviously more important to some people than others.

@JilltheTooth – I responded to you personally because your answer was so smart ass and judgemental and directed at those who think as I do. I should have ignored you, sorry, I took the bait when I should have bitten my tongue.

woodcutter's avatar

Well, we’d have to be talking about one charmin’ mother- fuckin’ stranger for me to ditch my dog.

selfe's avatar

@JilltheTooth The survival instinct of the person (and animal) drowning would probably kick in, but @RealEyesRealizeRealLies did not ask who the person drowning would choose. @RealEyesRealizeRealLies asked who the other person would choose.

JilltheTooth's avatar

@SavoirFaire and @selfe l: No, that was not the original post, I get that that. My quip, however, was directly addressed and became the focus of discussion.

SavoirFaire's avatar

@JilltheTooth I understand, but I am suggesting that it might not be inconsistent to say “I would save my pet over a stranger, but I would want to be saved over your pet.” It all depends on how much you think partiality is an allowable element of moral decision making. If you think you own more to your own daughter than to someone else’s daughter, you think partiality matters. If you think you owe the same things to your own daughter and to someone else’s daughter, you do not think partiality matters.

Note that thinking partiality matters is not the same as saying that some people are morally more valuable than others. It is only to say that the nature of our relationships with other beings may affect what we owe them. Thus you could hold that there is no moral difference between your daughter and someone else’s daughter while still thinking that, all other things being equal, you owe more to your daughter than to someone else’s daughter. And if relationships matter, the question about pets becomes more complicated.

rooeytoo's avatar

@SavoirFaire – I’m not sure what you said but I think we are on the same side. Could you please parse your response for ignorant little overcredited me.

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