Should the underclass be allowed pets?

Thoughts on the welfare state and the British underclass

Should the underclass be allowed pets?

Postby Gavin » 01 Jun 2012, 13:22

I will have to make this brief rather than an extended article, I'm afraid, but something I have often considered is whether the underclass should be allowed pets. One often sees them swearing at and otherwise being cruel to their many offspring, but very often they also have pets. Typically a young thug will have a pitbull or similar breed of dog, which he advances in front of him like a weapon. He will often look like the pitbull too.

Our neighbours are borderline underclass (others in the area are much worse) and they have a cat. Recently they burned their kitchen down and blamed it on their cat. We have noticed that the cat is always hungry, which put us in a dilemma: we want to get on with our neighbours as much as possible, but we don't want to see the cat go hungry. We don't want to offend them by feeding it, but we don't want it to go hungry either. Of course, we shouldn't have to feed it. We have one cat of our own already, who moved in with us from a truly underclass family (well a woman and her badly behaved son - I believe the husband was in prison). The owner just didn't really want our cat (who is a lovely natured and beautiful animal) and the cat didn't want to live with them either. She lived with us for months before I took her to a vet to get her identified. We were able to take possession from the underclass woman, for free, luckily, though I paid £140 in vet's bills to get her into tip top health (standard flea treatment, deworming etc.).

Regarding this new cat, it does not look malnourished but it meows so pitifully that we started feeding it. It insists on coming round here a lot too. We mentioned this and the family were quite apologetic, but really they should have a look at themselves and why their cat doesn't want to be with them. They should install a catflap too, as the cat is often stuck out in the rain.

Seeing little choice, we decided today to feed the cat when it was hungry and to wash if it is to be in our house. Accordingly we washed it and killed a number of fleas. We will Frontline it too (veterinary flea treatment). We don't see any other way.

We have noticed that this cat cowers when approached sometimes. He was not too bad when being washed (it's not easy to wash a cat, and rarely needs doing!) but was terrified of the vacuum cleaner nearby. His cowering, especially, makes me think he has been abused by them. He purrs and seeks affection, very cautiously.

The underclass hate being lectured to, but lecture anyone they can, viciously. The family next door interact with each other dysfunctionally and it is typical of the underclass to treat animals as inferiors (but in many ways they are not) and to either irritate them or swear at them or neglect them. I do not think this case is one for the RSPCA but the underclass are just inclined to abuse ("exercise power", as they see it, I suppose) where they can. Since they are too stupid to have much influence on other adults, their children and animals bear the brunt of their bitterness.

My question is should the underclass be allowed pets? Since they cannot even look after their children without state assistance, what sense does it make to allow them to have pets? I suppose the law already covers this in that if there is abuse people may be prosecuted, I just think it is odd that people who can hardly manage their own lives are allowed to be responsible for other lives. If we can't stop them having children maybe we can at least stop them having pets. Or should they have pets instead of children? I think neither.
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Re: Should the underclass be allowed pets?

Postby Elliott » 01 Jun 2012, 14:37

One would think that a cat, of all pets, is fairly low-maintenance. As long as you give it food, a place to sleep and a litter tray and take it to the vet every so often, surely it's not a burden at all? (But I've never owned a cat so you'll have to correct me on that if I'm wrong!)

Another thought is this: pets are a part of normal living. For that reason alone, I think that the underclass shouldn't be allowed to have them, because it encourages them to think that their way of life is not only acceptable but sustainable in the long term. Pets should be something you work up to, something you achieve financial stability in order to be able to have. If we allow unemployed people to have them, we are allowing them to jump from "nothing" to "normal", leap-frogging the effort in between.

The worst example (I told Michael about this recently, and may have mentioned it on the forum before) is an unmarried couple I know who have 2 dogs and 4 cats to complement their 5 children. This goes along with the house they've been given, and the X-Box, PS3, huge plasmascreen TV, broadband, laptop, desktop computer, etc. Now, every one of those "accessories" contributes to the family's unearned "achievement" of having a normal, prosperous household. It's not fair on everyone else. Just as important, it's not fair on them because it removes any need for them to strive towards normality. It gives them normality, for free, and indeed makes getting a job all the more unattractive because as soon as they had one, they would have to pay for all these things themselves.

So, no, in summary I don't think the underclass should be allowed pets. The reasons you mentioned are also perfectly true. If somebody feels impotent, and many of the underclass quite logically do feel impotent beneath their swagger, they are quite likely to take it out on a vulnerable being in their vicinity. How disgusting it is to think of a cat being the victim of a grown adult's inadequacy.
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Re: Should the underclass be allowed pets?

Postby Rachel » 01 Jun 2012, 16:58

I just have to say Gavin, I think it's wonderful that you took in the abused cat and are now are feeding that neighbours cat. If you don't want to offend the neighbours by feeding their cat and are really sure that it's hungry then feed it without telling them.

My Mum feeds stray cats outside our flat. (There are a lot of them in Israel because they climate allows them to survive.) The neighbours shout at her for it but she just carries on.

On a practical level you can't have police bursting into people houses and monitoring whether they own a pet or not.
The only way to deal with this is actually enforce the existing laws of animal abuse and be very serious about it, which they are not doing.

That example that Elliott gives of that family is infuriating.
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Re: Should the underclass be allowed pets?

Postby Gavin » 02 Jun 2012, 12:18

Thanks very much, Rachel!

The little fella seems a lot happier after a bath. He has been doing a lot of grooming. Hasn't been in his house at all - mind you he can't get in with no cat flap!
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Re: Should the underclass be allowed pets?

Postby Heather » 04 Jun 2012, 19:34

Elliott wrote:One would think that a cat, of all pets, is fairly low-maintenance. As long as you give it food, a place to sleep and a litter tray and take it to the vet every so often, surely it's not a burden at all? (But I've never owned a cat so you'll have to correct me on that if I'm wrong!)


You'd be surprised at how these elementary things can be so difficult for some people. Litter needs to be scooped at least once a day, and I know many middle-class families who struggle to do that much. My aunt's poor cats can't stand in their litter box without stepping on waste. It's nasty, especially since they keep it in the family room. And they wonder why it keeps going on the carpet instead. A few months ago I was having repair work done, and the maintenance man was shocked to see the cats. Apparently every other apartment he's been to that has pets is really smelly, but our place wasn't.

A few years ago we adopted a pair of adult male cats from the humane society. From their records it's obvious that they came from an underclass home, poor things. One of them is a big goofball, the life of the party, but the previous owners reported that he was extremely shy and standoff-ish. I can only imagine how they treated him if his personality was that different before.

It is actually kind of difficult to adopt through the humane society, which is good because it helps keep these animals out of the underclass. We had to provide proof of income and savings, proof of adequate housing, proof of spare time to spend with them, vet records from previous pets (my parents once had trouble adopting a cat because they had once skipped dog vaccinations), etc. The most difficult part was a questionnaire asking things like how much do we think a pet costs per year (imagine an underclass person trying to calculate food, litter, and vet costs!), our personalities, what we think proper pet discipline is, how often we're home, how we'd deal with certain pet situations, under what conditions would we give them up, etc. It was clearly a way to weed out the underclass and the clueless. I had a few friends who attempted to adopt pets in college and were denied because of lack of money, lack of life stability, or just being naive about the time, money, and attention involved. I don't know how other organizations or countries work, but this seemed like a decent way to help keep pets away from neglectful or abusive homes.

I wonder if for some of the "upper" underclass, having something to care for might inspire them to be a better person, so I won't make a blanket statement about the entire underclass not being allowed pets. I certainly think it's fine for people to have to prove themselves if they're going to adopt through official channels like the human society.
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Re: Should the underclass be allowed pets?

Postby Gavin » 04 Nov 2014, 10:05

The BBC gives ownership of dangerous dogs a predictably soft PC ride in this programme, presented by their Asian Network's "DJ Nihal". The programme is broadcast on their supposedly intellectual station, Radio 4.
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