This article from Philosophy Now (UK) looks at a dog auction through the prism of moral philosophy. The "right" thing to do may depend on which philosopher you consult...
"I was sitting in the bleachers with the rest of the crowd, looking down at the center-stage folding table, where bidding on a purebred English Bulldog had stalled at $185. I had the cash, but I didn’t reach for it. Instead, to my surprise, I found myself haggling morality with Immanuel Kant and John Stuart Mill, and finally, Peter Singer. The commercial-scale dog breeders – some would call them ‘puppy mill’ owners – sitting all around me would have thought I was crazy to consider morality. For them, auctioning dogs is the stuff of everyday commerce, no different than auctioning farm equipment or anything else they might need to keep their businesses going. Dogs to them were no different than cows or pigs or chickens – yet another animal that can be bred to produce offspring the public wants to buy, in one form or another. These breeders, who have long helped to fill the insatiable demand for pet dogs by the millions each year, were hoping to score good deals on new canine stock for their own kennels across America’s heartland, no apologies required. The rescuers – some would call them ‘animal rights activists’ – were there bidding in the bleachers too. They drop tens of thousands of dollars at these auctions, because, as they argue, it’s important to buy the dogs’ freedom from the breeding industry. The money, of course, ultimately passes through the auctioneer’s hands and then lands, sans his commission, in the pockets of breeders, including the types of breeders the rescuers loathe; but the rescuers offered no apologies, either. They tell adopters all across America that the dogs have been ‘saved from puppy mills’, collecting adoption fees, and putting the money right back into the system as they see fit. It was the very participation of the rescuers at the dog auction that had summoned the ghosts of Kant and Mill to me in the first place."
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