Actually Voodoo it IS a question about thinking outside the box. Your question asks who we'd choose to save in a real situation while ignoring the fact that there are other options besides a single choice in any life or death situation, whatever it may be. The moral decision here is finding solutions that save everyone, the real moral decision goes beyond ONE choice.
Even if you did choose to save the dog, what makes you think that the stranger would accept your choice to let them die without doing anything? If I were the stranger, I'd be willing to fight for my survival by any means necessary. If you were the stranger would you just quietly nod your head and say "Oh ok so you want to save FLuffy? Fine, I'll just get out right here.." and throw yourself into the briney deeps?
And for those of you who did choose your dog, how would you get the stranger out of the boat? Would you kill the stranger with your bare hands so your pet could live?
You won't like this answer, but I would save my kids, dogs, myself, dh and then a stranger in that order. Since we do have a boat, all three of my dogs have pfd's and there are more than enough life vests for the # of people on our boat at any given time.
So to answer your original ?, the dogs would be rescued before the stranger, but hopefully we wouldn't need to choose.
It was meant to be a simple question but obviously the answers became to complex. I just wanted to know what split decision pet owners would make in a situation that involved their pet and a total stranger. Forget the notion if it happened on a boat, or why there was a stranger, or whatever. All I wanted was an answer - pet or stranger? Not necessary to go any further.
I am not able to sacrifice a person for a dog. If it were a simple cut and dried scenario with no other options I would have to save the human but the rest of my life would be the worst of my life because I know it would be forever dark after something like that. In a real situation I would hand my dog to the stranger and hold up the stranger-natural buoyancy would help and 3 bodies would hold warmth better.
It is a queer fantasy question. Why would you have a random stranger with you? Stranger if they couldn't swim likely would grab onto you or your dog so they didn't drown. Then you have an issue. Doubt anyone on this forum has had this occur or ever will. Hence fantasy.