ARG-044

A recent study reported that pet owners have longer, healthier lives on average than do people who own no pets. Specifically, dog owners tend to have a lower incidence of heart disease. In light of these findings, Sherwood Hospital should form a partnership with Sherwood Animal Shelter to institute an adopt-a-dog program. The program would encourage dog ownership for patients recovering from heart disease, which should reduce these patients' chance of experiencing continuing heart problems and also reduce their need for ongoing treatment. As a further benefit, the publicity about the program would encourage more people to adopt pets from the shelter. And that will reduce the incidence of heart disease in the general population.


Write a response in which you examine the stated and/or unstated assumptions of the argument. Be sure to explain how the argument depends on these assumptions and what the implications are for the argument if the assumptions prove unwarranted.


In this argument, the author suggests that Sherwood Hospital and Sherwood Animal Shelter should work together and launch an adopt-a-dog program based on a recent survey. According to that survey, pet owners tend to have longer and healthier lives on average than those who do not own pets. Particularly, those who have dogs have a lower incidence of heart disease. The author then infers that the adopt-a-dog program will be helpful in reducing patients’ need for ongoing treatment once patients keep dogs as pets. Subsequently, this program will also encourage more people adopt pets from animal shelter, reducing the incidence of heart disease in the general population. However, this suggestion and its benefits are built upon several unsubstantiated assumptions, which, if prove unwarranted, would negatively influence the soundness of this argument.


Firstly, when discussing the result of the survey, the author simply attributes the healthier conditions of pet owners to the fact that they own pets. Likewise, the author assumes that keeping dog as pet is the reason of decreased incidence of heart disease among dog owners. Therefore, the author suggests hospital and animal shelter join hands, launching an adopt-a-dog program based on that. However, common sense informs us that there are lots of factors that can influence people’s health condition and their incidence of heart disease. Those dog owners with lower incidence of heart disease may, for example, tend to exercise more or eat more healthy food daily, which may help to improve people’s heart condition. In this case, the lowered heart disease rate and dog ownership is a coincidence and does not imply any causal relationship.


Secondly, granted that the adopt-a-dog program is beneficial for patients because of dogs do help owners reduce their incidence of heart disease, we should still be cautious about the claim that dog-adopting can decrease patients’ needs of ongoing treatment. Here is assumption is that owning a dog can immediately have a positive effect on curing heart diseases. The reality, however, might be otherwise. For instance, it might be the case that it takes a long time for the heart condition to change after keeping dogs. If that is true, we can conclude that the ongoing treatment may still be necessary for patients at present. As a result, the author’s prediction will be weakened obviously.


Additionally, the author also predicts that more people would adopt pets from Sherwood Animal Shelter after the publicity of this program. However, this further benefit is based upon an assumption that people would adopt pets without considering possible negative effects that may be caused by them in the future. However, if evidence states that people may give up adopting when they consider about some disadvantages like increased risks of allergy or the investment of time and money, then the author’s argument will be less convincing.


Lastly, as the author suggests, the increase of adopting number from animal shelter will reduce the incidence of heart disease in the general population. In other words, the author either assumes that large number of people will choose to adopt dogs over other pets, or assumes that all pets can reduce the risk of heart disease. However, no information is further provided in support of neither of the assumptions. Even if lots of adoptions from animal shelter would be made, it may be cats that are adopted. While dog ownership may be beneficial to heart conditions, owning a cat as a pet may not. As a result, the author’s prediction may be wrong.


To sum up, while people may benefit from keeping dogs as pets, we still need more concrete and reliable information to better evaluate this argument.

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