Animal rights people are often asked whether a firefighter should save a dog or a child from a burning building. (Sometimes this question is framed as a drowning scenario. Should someone rescue a drowning dog or a drowning child?) Although this question is juvenile, discriminatory, and completely irrelevant to an animal's inherent right NOT to be tortured, abused, enslaved, commodified and murdered by humans, I express all of my beliefs unabashedly on this website. So I will answer the "burning building" question in two different ways.
1) I would want firefighters to save whoever is nearest to the point of entry. Whichever creature puts the firefighter in the LEAST amount of danger is the one who should be saved. If firefighters want to be bigger heroes, they can try to save both, especially if the beings in question were next to each other. Firefighters are strong and can carry BOTH to safety. They could shove the dog down their shirt and carry the kid. Or they could shove the kid down their shirt and carry the dog. They could drape either one over their shoulders and carry the other.
2) Since animals and humans suffer in the same way, especially when it comes to being burnt alive, I find it outrageous that people even pose this question. How come scenarios like this only arise when animals are involved? The thought of animals being treated equally with humans turns seemingly rational people into illogical, irrational hillbillies. The latter reference to hillbillies opens up a litany of other scenarios and questions that need to be addressed, too. If Dick Cheney and Barack Obama (war criminals) and a child were caught in a burning house, who should be saved? If Jeffrey Dahmer and a maggot were caught in a burning house, who should be saved? If Jerry Sandusky, Pennsylvania child molester, and a flea on the back of a tick on the back of a fly were caught in a burning house, who should be saved? When you cogitate about whether homosexuals deserve equal rights (and they undoubtedly do), do you wonder whether a firefighter should rescue a gay man or a heterosexual man from a burning house? Fifty years ago, would you have pondered whether a firefighter should rescue a black person or a white person caught in a burning house? Should a Christian firefighter rescue a Muslim man or a Christian woman? Should a Christian firefighter rescue a Buddhist or a Jew? Should women be rescued instead of men? Should Hitler or Stalin be rescued at all? Should a rapist be rescued instead of a child molester? Should someone from Monterey be rescued over someone from El Paso? Should Mexicans be rescued instead of Polish folk? Should O.J. Simpson be rescued instead of Michael Richards? Should Michael Vick be rescued over a flea? Over a mosquito?
MY ANSWERS TO THE PREVIOUS QUESTIONS ARE: Child over Cheney and Obama; Maggot over Dahmer; Flea on back of tick on back of fly over Sandusky the child molester; Wouldn't choose between gay man or heterosexual man (whoever is closest to point of entry); Wouldn't choose between black or white (whoever is closest to point of entry); Wouldn't choose between Muslim or Christian, or Buddhist or Jew, or man or woman (whoever is closest to point of entry); Would let Hitler and Stalin burn to death intentionally; Would let child molester and rapist burn to death intentionally; Wouldn't choose between person from Monterey or El Paso (whoever is closest to point of entry); Wouldn't choose between Mexican or Polish (whoever is closest to point of entry); Would save Richards because his crime only caused hurt feelings while O.J.'s crimes were physically and extraordinarily violent; Would save flea over Vick; Would save mosquito over Vick.