All dogs don’t go to heaven
Angelenos tend to anthropomorphize their pets more than the average American. To validate this, one needs only to visit the Grove and view the garish parade of dogs dressed in frilly orange pinafores and novelty tees — a canine fashion trend that would perhaps make more sense on the East Coast, where the temperature actually drops below a balmy 65 degrees Fahrenheit. (And Elle Woods was right: “Whoever said orange was the new pink was seriously disturbed.”)
For those who believe their pets deserve the best, there is an inexhaustible market for designer clothes, gourmet food and posh resorts, all tailored to the quadrupedal. Los Angeles even offers myriad pet cemeteries for Fluffy’s final journey to the giant litterbox in the ground.
It only makes sense, then, that there is a niche in the market for a company that tailors to the needs of the evangelical pet owners of America. Eternal Earth-Bound Pets offers the very latest in animal care for those who fear they will leave a special someone behind after — what else? — the second coming. While the company’s ethics have come under fire, they target an undeniably profitable customer bloc. Earth-bound pets might not be as crazy a venture as it seems.
For some citizens, the famed biblical Rapture is about as pressing a danger as California’s “big one;” historical precedent tells us it will happen someday, and we can only hope that, when the tremors come, we’re prepared. For a small group of American fundamentalists, however, preparation for the afterlife involves more than just having a clean conscience — it means providing for those who will be left behind.
Biblical canon holds that pets don’t have souls; thus, Rapture theory proposes animals will not be allowed on the figurative bus to heaven once the time comes, leaving them to wander earth with nonbelievers, sinners and Yankees fans. Eternal Earth-Bound Pets promises on its website that each “representative is a confirmed atheist and as such will still be here on Earth after you have received your reward.”
For the fee of $110, members will be matched with an atheist animal rescuer (currently available in 22 states); the company guarantees the rescuer will reach the stranded pet within 24 hours of Rapture (depending on traffic and general carnage, of course). The fee insures owners for a decade, at which point members can renew for a reduced rate. Apparently, more than 100 pet owners have already signed up for the service.
It seems like a great way for the wayward sinner to make a few extra bucks, but one can only wonder how a business model like this is ethical; the company is making it’s money based on an event it believes will never happen. How is this any different than selling invisibility cloaks or Walt Disney’s frozen remains over the Internet?
Surprisingly, Eternal Earth-Bound Pets follows the same business models as many insurance companies, according to an AOL news article. “[Insurance] premiums are based on the likelihood that the company will have to pay out money for claims,” said Jennifer Fisher, a professor of ethics at the University of San Francisco, in the article. Essentially, insurance companies are betting against the fact that a customer will need to file a claim.
In fact, Earth-Bound’s site rather defensively defends its ethics. A portion of the FAQ section states, “Being an atheist does not mean we lack morals or ethics. It just means we don’t believe in God or gods. All of our representatives are normal folks who love and live for their family, and are gainfully employed.”
It seems Eternal Earth-Bound Pets is putting a new spin on an old practice. While it has already received a fair amount of flak, the fact remains that its business is by the books and legal. The road to hell is paved with good intentions.
Lucy Mueller is a junior majoring in cinema-production.