Today is National Pet Day, because we don’t have enough days to celebrate companion animals.
The Oxford English Dictionary defines pet as, “A domestic or tamed animal kept for companionship or pleasure.”
I personally don’t like the word pet, and yet isn’t that what animals are for us? Kept for our pleasure. You would refute that by reminding me of all the money you spend on your companion, or the time you’ve spent training, walking, and playing with your pet. You buy the expensive food. You have pet insurance and get the best medical care for your baby. You adopt, not shop.
Oh, you spend a lot of money on your pets alright. The pet industry is growing by leaps and bounds. During the economic downturn that cost many of us our jobs, our homes and our savings, we kept spending money on our pets. That was the one industry that didn’t suffer.
And while you do this for the welfare of your furry family member, you also do it because it gives you social standing… right? Come on, how many blog posts out there brag about how THEY feed their animals THIS FOOD because MY BABY only gets the BEST. Really? Your dog eats cat shit. Do you really think he cares how much money you spend on his food?
Pet ownership funds the horrific practice of puppy mill breeding, but it’s not just puppies. Where to you think those birds, reptiles, or small mammals come from? They’re smuggled. They’re captured from the wild. They’re bred. And we don’t ask.
Have you seen this: a picture of a cute animal is posted on a social media site and the comments beneath are all about how “I want!” which is the same thing we post under a photo of a cute pair of shoes. Notice no one posts, “I think I can provide that animal a good quality of life and I am committed to try.”
Our pet ownership can be downright ridiculous. We have lions and tigers in neighborhood backyards. We have monkeys in homes. And we support animals kept to amuse us in prisons we call zoos. Millions of us are watching a giraffe kept in a small barn in hopes of seeing her give birth. Meanwhile, the for-profit zoo that owns that giraffe has raked in hundreds of thousands of dollars.
If we find we cannot care for our pet, we struggle to find alternate living arrangements. We beg friends and family members to step up for the animal. We look look for someone in the community. We call every rescue and no-kill shelter in the area. We face public ridicule in the process. Rescuers post stuff to social media about how those who surrender their animals are losers, are cruel, are heartless. Ironic isn’t it that so are the rescuers.
To review: what do we get from pet ownership?
The opportunity to learn to be responsible for someone besides ourselves.
Connection with a community of like-minded individuals.
A sense of moral superiority.
And what does the animal get?
I guess that depends on what you give. But whatever it is, I don’t think it’s anywhere near what you’re getting in return, and it absolutely doesn’t justify the awful things animals suffer so we can own pets.
Here’s hoping you don’t need a special day set aside to be reminded of that.