Sunday, February 23, 2020
“Animals are not pets – they are not your cheap burglar alarm, or something which allows you to go out for a walk. They are not ours as decorations or toys, they are living beings. A dog is a feeling, whole individual, with emotions and interests, not something you ‘have’ ‘. - Ingrid Newkirk, President of PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals).
Ok, I am on the record as a dog-lover. I love my dogs and, as much as dogs are capable of it, I think they love me. At least they act like they do. But they have a pretty great life, so it may just be an act on their part to make sure the food keeps coming, along with the ear-scratching, massages and belly-rubs. They also get to sleep in bed with my wife and I. So I am pretty sure they are onboard with being “pets”.
Ms. Newkirk goes on to say we should stop calling our pets “Pets”. Apparently words have deeper meanings, even to animals. How would you like being called a “pet”? Ms. Newkirk recommends that we call our furry friends ‘Companions’ rather than pets. Fair enough. But I think it’s even better if we call them by name. My dogs have names and they know them. They would be offended if I called them anything else.
Conservative pundits have had a good deal of fun at Ms. Newkirk’s expense saying this is taking political correctness to a silly extreme. That this is one more example of virtue-signaling progressives trying to make us feel guilty for just being human beings. Our mere existence is a threat to life on this planet and all creatures great and small.
I am inclined to give PETA and Ms. Newkirk a break. Animal rights activists have been fighting for the ethical treatment of animals since the 1800’s. And it has made a positive difference. The Brits were the first to enact legislation regarding the treatment of animals way back in 1876. In 1966, the United States finally got around to passing the The Animal Welfare Act and it has been updated and amended several times since then. We have established guidelines regarding the use of animals for medical research and testing. Most states and municipalities enforce animal cruelty statutes. And we spend billions of dollars on our pets. A lot of animals never had it so good.
Yet, we know that many animals never had it so bad. The industrialization of animal protein production is not something we want to think about. We like to think of cows grazing in green pastures, chickens running about trailed by fuzzy little chicks while the rooster sits on the fence and crows. Pigs wallowing in the mud and just being pigs. That’s pretty much what I saw as a child on my grandparent’s farm. Sure I remember animals being slaughtered and eaten. They were not romanticized and certainly not humanized. But they were respected and we gave thanks for the food they provided.
These days I try not to think too much about where that chicken breast, or hamburger or slice of bacon came from or what those animals went through in their short, single purpose existence. I rationalize it all by saying this is the only way to produce affordable food on the massive scale required to feed the world’s population. That millions of jobs and livelihoods depend on this industry. We are just doing what we have to do to survive. After all… animals are not pets.
“Here’s an assignment for my fellow Christians: Go to YouTube, search for any video of ‘slaughterhouse animal cruelty’, watch it, the whole thing, and ask yourself if that’s what God meant when He gave us dominion over animals.”