Cow Hugs and Dog Licks: Livestock are Different from “Pets”

This cow was rescued from the dairy industry. But he’s livestock and different from a dog…right? Photo via Santuario Igualdad Interspecie

Anti-puppy mill activist and documentary filmmaker Christopher Grimes recently stated in an interview, “We would never think of dogs in the same way we think of cows.”

Are we sure about that, Grimes?

In some parts of the world people torture, kill, and then consume dogs by the thousands in their own version of the meat industry–just like we do to cows in this country. And in other parts of the world still, cows are protected from being slaughtered for human consumption.

But that’s not the real point.

Grimes’ upcoming documentary Dog by Dog delves deep into the issue of puppy mills, a disturbing industry where female dogs are repeatedly impregnated and forced to give birth to an unnatural number of litters. These pups, often sick and suffering abhorrent conditions of unregulated breeding facilities, are then sold to mainstream pet stores. When the mothers are too weak to produce any more babies, they are killed and disposed of, just like livestock.

Grimes, like other anti-puppy mill activists, doesn’t like that dogs are treated like livestock.  (Who would, really?)

I don’t like it either, but not because dogs specifically are harmed per se.

Rather, it’s because the puppy mill business model is no different from any another industry that harms animals.

Take the dairy industry, for example.

The dairy industry exploits female cows the same way puppy mills exploit female dogs—ruthlessly turning the female reproductive system into a profit-churning machine. One industry sells puppies, the other cow milk and baby boy cow bodies (also known as veal).

The parallels between dairy and puppy mills are myriad, but our inability to bridge these parallels with basic rationale and compassion leaves me disheartened.

In his interview, Grimes explains:

Big Ag sees it as a slippery slope argument, that if you protect a dog, how long is it before you give the same protection to livestock such as a cow. The breakdown is that dogs are companion animals, they are with families 12 to 14 years, and we would never think of them in the same way we think of a cow.

Must we continue to distinguish animals’ worth only as it relates to human benefit? What about a cow’s own lifespan of 15-20 years, regardless of whether humans gain from it or not? Don’t their lives matter to them?

From Grimes’ tone—and he could have been taken out of context, here—it seems that it would be almost unthinkable to offer moral consideration and compassion to cows, as if humans would somehow suffer by leaving cows alone.

Humans do not suffer by leaving cows alone. In fact, abstaining from beef, and animal products including all meats, eggs and dairy, can significantly reduce risk for 14 of the 15 leading causes of death in the US.

Undoubtedly Grimes’ film needed to be made and the truth behind the majority of pet store animals exposed to as wide an audience as possible. Puppy mills are a sickening aspect of our carnist society, but so are all the other things we do to all the other animals.

It would have been so helpful if, while promoting his film, Grimes could have flicked a couple coins towards the forgotten billions—the farmed animals dying by the millions daily to serve our meat, dairy, and egg preferences—simply by allowing the possibility that they may suffer just the same as our pet animals.

The best way to avoid contributing to the suffering of animals is to live vegan.

All people truly loving animals, preventing disease, and fighting for the future of our planet are going vegan overnight. It’s easier than ever to be vegan—your only regret will be not doing it sooner.

If you would like help going vegan, or if you have questions, feel free to email us at



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