I came across a poster baring the words: “Will you rescue animals like Rolo from cruel puppy traders?” This initially struck me as a seemingly straightforward charity campaign. It then continued: “Text RESCUE to 70007 to give £3 and help rescue an animal from cruelty this Christmas.”
It was at this moment that it hit me, where is this money ultimately going? Presumably to the cruel puppy trader, in order to buy these poor puppies living under cruel conditions. We are not only rewarding these cruel traders, we are actively prioritising trade with them (I would naturally assume) over kind and responsible pet owners. It is an awful economic dynamic. On the one hand we are rescuing helpless creatures from terrible conditions, but on the other we are profiting and encouraging the continued business of these puppy traders. It is an awful decision to have to make.
You could play this on the basis of future predictions. If you assume that cruel puppy trading activity will continue regardless of our efforts as a society, or that no such efforts will be expended at all, then all you are left with is the ability to save some puppies by taking part in this industry. You may be inclined to act similarly if you believe that alternative measures will be taken to stop this from happening. You may think otherwise and choose to not pay money to these puppy traders, if you assume that sacrificing puppies in the short term will stop or severely curtail the industry in the long term.
Even given perfect information I find this decision to be a cruel one to make. It is a realistic, more complex version, of the runway cart problem in ethics. It is a heavily discussed and debated problem, but I am yet unable to reach a conclusion. Unfortunately I am acutely well aware that indecision is in itself a decision in some sense; it may differ in its intentions, but its results are no different.