Like that film, Wes Anderson’s Isle of Dog doesn’t promote veganism intentionally. Even so, as an animal welfare advocate, I found many of its elements compelling.
The narrator opens by recounting a long-ago war between two dog-loving and one cat-loving clan, in which an ancient hero betrays his own kind:
“On the eve of total canine annihilation, a child warrior sympathetic to the plight of the besieged underdog dogs betrayed his species… and pledged his sword with the following battle-cry haiku:
“I turn my back
The animated movie then flashes forward to 20 years from the present day. Descendants of the cat-lovingKobayashi clan are seeking revenge on the dogs of Megasaki. They’ve unleashed a pandemic of canine flu, with this warning:
“Canine-Saturation has reached epidemic proportions!Dog-Flu threatens to cross the species threshold and enter the human disease-pool.”
Cross-species contamination is Mayor Kobayashi’sexcuse to order all dogs transported to quarantined Trash Island to fend for themselves. What’s waiting for them at the enormous quarantined garbage dump with its abandoned research laboratory?
“Originally, before… the tsunami which obliterated the facility, there were over 250 incarcerated animals here…. being experimented on… If you look closely, you may notice some of these dogs still bear scars … from the research and abuse.”
Watching this scene made me wonder if U.S. laboratories still perform research on dogs.
The answer is yes, according to the NAVS Advancing Science without Harming Animals website:
“It is unconscionable that dogs… are used as research subjects in laboratories, but that is the tragic truth. Although the number of dogs used in research has declined by 72% since… 1979… USDA statistics show that 59,401 dogs were used for ‘research, testing, teaching, or experimentation’ in 2018.’”
In Isle of Dogs, Megasaki’s dog lovers confront the Mayor: “We all agree it should be a crime to abuse, beat,murder or yell at any dog… The question is, ‘What is the appropriate punishment?’”
The mayor’s humorous response gives us a great opportunity to think about our own actions. Why is abusing a pet dog a punishable offense, but abusing one in a laboratory perfectly legal?
The truth is, we live in society that rejects some forms of animal abuse but ignores (or even worse, accepts) others.
How much longer will we allow such a disturbing disconnect?