08/24/2007 06:59 pm ET | Updated Nov 17, 2011

What's Wrong with Killing Dogs?

So it's a federal crime to be mean to dogs? Who knew?

What's wrong with what Michael Vick did? I have no inclination to do what he did with dogs, but I have no comprehension of what all the fuss is about. Most people who are upset about killing dogs or letting them attack each other have at some point in their lives caught a fish, which is as extreme a form of murderous torture of an animal as I can imagine. Not only have most of them caught a fish, they have actually eaten many more of them than they've caught. Which is weirder, killing an animal or eating its dead flesh? Most of us have never eaten dog meat, but in some countries it is a delicacy. Is there something evil going on in those countries? Are they violating the natural order of things? Should we invade them or get the UN to intervene? They are killing and eating dogs for god's sake!!!

What is the moral basis -- the natural law, if you will -- that accords special respect and protection to dogs in our written laws? And how does that same natural law allow for fish being clubbed to death on boat decks if they haven't died already from the hook-in-mouth trick we so enjoy pulling on them?

Our reverence for dog life resembles our reverence for human life. Up to a point. It's okay to kill your dog if you think your dog is too sick to go on living much longer or if you just can't afford medical help for your dog. And, don't worry, no legal authority is ever going to ask you to prove that your dog was really sick enough to kill or even sick at all. If you don't have the stomach for killing your dog yourself, you contract with a dog killer -- otherwise known as a veterinarian -- to do the dirty work for you. No federal law against that yet. Our dog reverence is so shot full of loopholes that there is no describable moral order to it at all.

Americans revere horses too, but it's okay to shoot your racehorse in the head in public if it so much as breaks a leg--something I saw the first time I went to a racetrack. And it's more than okay--politicians consider it a leadership demonstration--to hunt. Shoot 'em, kill 'em, cook 'em, eat 'em is the American way for a lot of pretty birds and every four-legged animal other than dogs, cats, and horses.

Between bites at McDonald's today there will be a lot of outrage expressed about Michael Vick getting off easy. I won't understand a word of it.