Wednesday, December 2, 2020

What do Islamic social norms say about the Treatment of Dogs?

 


      In Western civilization, dogs are often called “man’s best friend.” Thousands and thousands of people own and love their dogs. Some treat them like their children. Dogs are also used in Western Civilization in various jobs. Some hold traditional roles such shepherding, while others work as sighted guides, and others are valued for their noses and serve in multiple roles from law enforcement to the military.

      The United States government uses dogs in the military to sniff out bombs. This enables a quicker rate of response of Explosive Ordinance Disposal (EOD) teams to ensure the safety of those who would be effected. For the handlers of these dogs, a special bond forms that allows them to be highly effective. One of the EOD dogs who received a K-9 Medal of Courage was Coffee. Coffee served three tours of duty. His handler, Army Sgt. 1st Class James Bennett, shared their story.

“Coffee’s purpose originally was IED defeat … so her job was to clear routes, buildings, paths, looking for explosives, anything that might injure troops. And beyond that, to find caches where they would hide stockpiles of them,” said Bennett…

“Overall, her job was literally to lead units, be in front of units and get them from point A to point B safely, so they could effectively do their mission,” Bennett said.

“We got every troop home safe, back to base on mission safe, every time we went out. She’s never let me down. Not once.”[1]

      The effectiveness of these dogs was the number one reason it was felt a sign of good friendship to give EOD trained dogs to Islamic countries to aid them in fighting terrorism. This was a great idea, at least it seemed so at first. Then the Islamic social norm about the treatment of dogs prevailed upon our four footed friends and major news outlets carried the sad stories of neglect in December of 2019.[2]

      Kate Ng wrote about this for the Independent. She writes that, “The US has stopped exporting bomb-sniffing dogs to Egypt and Jordan after a number of animals died from mistreatment and neglect, US authorities said.”[3]

      Why were dogs trained to sniff out explosives being neglected in Muslim countries? The only commonality in these countries is their belief in Islam. What would Islam have to do with poor treatment of dogs?

      Muhammad apparently did not like dogs. We know this from a hadith in Bukhari:


“Once Gabriel promised the Prophet (that he would visit him, but Gabriel did not come) and later on he said, ‘We, angels, do not enter a house which contains a picture or a dog.’” (Sahih Bukhari 4.54.50)

     As research on this topic progressed a question was formed. If Muhammad did not like dogs, would he treat them badly? Would he cause them to be harmed? In the hadiths, Muhammad does exactly this. He orders the killing of dogs with no explanation.

Abdullah (b. Umar) reported: Allah’s ordered the killing of dogs and we would send (men) in Medina and its corners and we did not spare any dog that we did not kill, so much so that we killed the dog that accompanied the wet she-camel belonging to the people of the desert.” — Sahih Muslim 3811

     This upset many. Especially those who owned working dogs such as hunting dogs, herding dogs guard dogs and more. They posed the question about allowing working dogs to live.

“Ibn Mughaffal reported: The Messenger of Allah ordered killing of the dogs, and then said: What about them, i. e. about other dogs? and then granted concession (to keep) the dog for hunting and the dog for (the security) of the herd, and said: When the dog licks the utensil, wash it seven times, and rub it with earth the eighth time.” — Sahih Muslim 551

So only those dogs who work were allowed to live? Does this mean in Islam, that only working dogs are allowed to live? Would Muhammad have all dogs who live as pets killed?  

But the real problem today is how are dogs treated by those who feel a need to imitate their prophet Muhammad. Would they want to be near a dog whose very presence negates their prayers? A Muslim who would be responsible for an EOD dog, would not be able to pray even on break. Simply, because Muhammad claimed their presence negates prayers. 

      This explains the actions of Muhamad’s followers around the globe who work in transportation.

      In the UK a Muslim Uber driver refused to allow a sighted guide dog into his vehicle. The law requires him to allow this since the dog is assisting a visually impaired person. Colin Perreira, 24, from Hemel Hempstead said this is his fifth time taking an Uber driver to court for refusing to allow him AND his dog a ride.[4] The commonality of course is left unsaid to protect Muslims.

      In Austria, the same issue arises among Muslim cabbies. In August of 2019, Gabriele Jandrasits from Innsbruck attempted to pre-order a taxi to the airport bringing her beagle in an “airplane friendly transport cage.”[5] This proved to be problematic because drivers for the company she called refused to transport a dog even though the animal was in a cage. In this article by Michael Domanig, others had difficulties taking dogs in taxis.

Ms. Jandrasits, who works for the Tyrolean Association for the Blind and Visually Impaired, gives yet another example: A former board member of the association - the lady is completely blind - also ordered a taxi via the radio control center. On the assumption that her companion dog for the blind had to be taken with her anyway, she didn't mention the dog on the phone. The taxi driver then refused to take it with him.[6]

      In this article they do reference that “around 80 percent of the drivers now have a migration background - and that Muslims traditionally often view dogs as “impure.”[7]

      This means a social norm does exist that is strong enough to impact the majority of Muslim cabbies in Austria. Is this any different in North America?

      On February 2, 2019 CTV news aired a item on a woman being again refused a ride with Uber due to her sighted guide dog. In the video, Shelby Travers a visually impaired woman complains that this has happened at least a dozen times. The last time the driver drove off with her hand still on the door.[8] “According to a follow up article by CTV, the man was charged with a bylaw offence.  “Travers said she’s experienced similar incidents in Calgary and Toronto and added, “I just want this to stop happening.”[9]

      In the USA this would be deemed a violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act also known as ADA. It would also be considered a violation of their civil rights. This incurs severe fines, and should remove drivers from working. However, the same issues are happening in the USA, and no one is talking about why! What is the reason? Why are the news sources hiding the names and the religions of those who won’t allow a rider with a dog in their cars.

In 2007, cabs, Ubers etc., had so many refusals by Muslims to take dogs in their vehicles that the Minneapolis-St Paul airport took action. At this point 75% of the drivers were Muslim and primarily from Somalia. Muslim cabbies were not only reusing to transport dogs, they were refusing to transport alcohol, and claiming it was against their religious belief. Patrick Hogan, the spokesman for the Metropolitan Airport Commission said, "There are times where cab after cab will refuse service, and passengers can be waiting for 20 minutes."116 Mr. Hogan also said that they were seeing about 77 refusals a month! 

This problem caused Chuck Samuelson of the American Civil Liberties Union of Minnesota to speak to this issue. He addressed that this was an issue of people used to living under shariah when he said:  

 

This is a public access issue.  Bottom line is we are a secular society, and that's the way it is.117 

 

The airport already had a penalty in place for refusing access to people with service dogs. They instituted two penalties. A first offense gets a 30 Day suspension and a second offense earns a two year revocation. This only removed their ability to pick up at the airport. Refusing service dogs comes with a more severe penalty including the possibility of being sued for violating the Americans with Disabilities Act.  

Muslims tried to fight taking dogs into their cabs again and took their case to court. In 2008 they lost their appeal. 

Perhaps the worst case of cruelty to a dog by a Muslim that went national occurred on October 1, 2019 an resulted in the man pleading guilty. Kyle Hanney, Lead Animal Control Officer  said that “the man confessed that he had picked the dog up and then slammed it on the ground multiple times which then caused several compound fractures to the right-rear femur of the dog."118  He is charged with animal torturing in the second degree. There is no reason given for the horrendous crime. He did work out a deal that required no jail time. 

Was this last news item due to his Islamic beliefs about dogs? The issue here is that the Muslims in non-Islamic countries wish to impose their hatred or at least refusal to transport or be near our four footed “best friends.”  The USA protects service animals as workers. This may be a reason there is less news on this topic. 

Knowing what you know now, would you invite a Muslim to your house if you have a pet dog? Should you be expected to walk on the other side of the street with your dog when a Muslim passes by to appease a Muslim new to your country?   

 

 

Further Reading

https://www.oversight.gov/sites/default/files/oig-reports/ESP-19-06.pdf



[1] Basch, Michelle. 2017. "5 military dogs honored with K-9 Medal of Courage ." WTOP. October 11. Accessed April 17, 2020. https://wtop.com/animals-pets/2017/10/5-military-dogs-honored-k-9-medal-courage-photos/.

[2] Ng, Kate. 2019. "US suspends export of sniffer dogs to Jordan and Egypt after series of deaths." Inependent. December 24. Accessed April 17, 2020. https://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/americas/us-sniffer-dogs-exports-jordan-egypt-deaths-trump-administration-a9259211.html.

[3] ibid

[4] Andrews, Luke. 2020. "Moment Uber driver refuses to give a ride to a blind man's guide dog before driving off - as he is fined £1,700 for breaching the Equality Act." MailOnline. March 2. Accessed April 22, 2020. https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-8066065/Moment-Uber-driver-refuses-ride-blind-mans-guide-dog-driving-off.html.

[5] Domanig, Michael. 2019. "Taking dogs in Innsbruck taxis remains an excitement." Tiroler Tageszeitung. August 8. Accessed April 22, 2020. https://www.tt.com/artikel/15929619/mitnahme-von-hunden-in-innsbrucker-taxis-bleibt-ein-aufreger?sfns=mo.

[6] ibid

[7] ibid

[8] Griff, Kate. 2019. "Ont. woman says Uber driver rejected her guide dog." CTV News. February 3. Accessed April 22, 2020. https://www.ctvnews.ca/canada/ont-woman-says-uber-driver-rejected-her-guide-dog-1.4280881.

[9] CTV News Ottawa. 2019. "Uber driver who allegedly refused ride to woman with service dog charged." CTV News. February 10. Accessed April 22, 2020. https://www.ctvnews.ca/canada/uber-driver-who-allegedly-refused-ride-to-woman-with-service-dog-charged-1.4290370.