Is It Ethical to Keep Pets?

People may feel sorry for farm animals contained in a small space without any natural environment but they seldom consider the life of the animals kept as pets. Pets, people want to believe, like the life with their owners. I don’t think they really do.

Not matter how many indoor conveniences made for a cat, they don’t get to hunt, wander over a large territory (especially at night) and choose when they want to give or receive affection. Dogs get taken for walks. But, dogs really want to run for miles, and walking or jogging with a human owner isn’t even close to the speed and distance a dog would enjoy if they were not someone’s pet. When pets attack, become unhealthy (fat) I feel sorry for them. Without freedom to be the animal they are, pets are slaves to human owners.

Lets talk about pet breeding and pet hoarding. Pets are not able to give consent to their ownership. They are unable to ask for different or better care and conditions. All of this becomes a bigger issue with exotic pets, animals not even natural to our part of the world and those who live in water, or fly in the air, hide underground, in long grass, etc. most of their lives. We take animals out of their natural lives and turn them into pets, without their consent.

The institution of pet-keeping is fundamentally unjust as it involves the manipulation of animals’ bodies, behaviours and emotional lives. For centuries, companion animal’s bodies (particularly dogs, horses and rabbits) have been shaped to suit human fashions and fancies. And this often causes these animals considerable physical harm.

Social workers further recognise the powerful link between pet abuse and the abuse of children and women in domestic settings. The idea that it is acceptable to manipulate the bodies and minds of a vulnerable group to suit the interests of more privileged groups is consistent with the cultural logic of oppression.

Through this forced dependency and domestication, the lives of companion animals are almost completely controlled by humans. They can be terminated at any time for the most trivial of reasons – including behavioural “problems”, for belonging to a stereotyped breed, or the owner’s inability (or unwillingness) to pay for veterinary treatment.

Sociologists typically study prisons, asylums and other physical spaces as examples. But I believe pet-keeping constitutes a sort of dispersed “total institution”. This is because nonhuman animals are unnaturally forced under human authority, restrained, and re-socialised. True consent is not possible under such conditions. Animals are groomed to participate and those who are unable to follow the rules of human social life are likely to be punished – sometimes fatally.

Quoted from The Conversation, a post by Corey Lee Wrenn, author of A Rational Approach to Animal Rights: Extensions in Abolitionist Theory.

I really agree with her post and her points. I wish people would stop thinking of pets along the lines of cute stuffed animals to play with.

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