COMMENTARY | The editors of something called “The Journal of Animal Ethics,” apparently with too much time on their hands, have hit upon a new definition of animal abuse. Apparently it is wrong to call one’s dog or cat or even canary a “pet.”
According to The Telegraph:
“Domestic dogs, cats, hamsters or budgerigars should be rebranded as ‘companion animals’ while owners should be known as ‘human carers’, they insist.
“Even terms such as wildlife are dismissed as insulting to the animals concerned – who should instead be known as ‘free-living’, the academics including an Oxford professor suggest. “
Even such phrases as ‘sly as a fox’ or ‘eat like a pig’ ought to be avoided.
Now, I am not a pet owner, but do know a lot of people who are. Dogs and cats, by my observation, do not understand enough of human speech to be insulted by being called a “pet.” Actually pets, to use the politically incorrect term, have very simple needs. They need to be fed and watered on a regular basis. Most, like dogs and cats, need to be petted and stroked on a regular basis, an experience that is as pleasurable to the owner as it is to the pet. Their medical needs should be taken care of. And, above all, one should avoid hurting them, even when they make messes on the floor.
As for wildlife, they need observing from a safe distance, to be run away from as quickly as possible, or shot either for dinner or out of a sense of safety for the humans. Not calling lions and tigers and bears “wildlife” is rather down on the list.
There are a few animal metaphors that should apply to the editors of “The Journal of Animal Ethics:” “Dumb as an ox” or “silly as a goose” seem to apply.
It is a slippery slope. If we’re forced to call pets “animal companions,” the next thing you know we’ll be forbidden from eating beef and chicken, as it is very rude to kill livestock for their meat. If confronted by an angry bear in the woods and cannot run away, apparently a better alternative is to be mauled to death rather than shoot the free-living animal.
Who knows? Soon it will be forbidden to call one’s lover with a “pet name.” I was once presented with a figurine of a beagle in a poster with the caption, “You’re an animal in bed.” I have always considered that a compliment, and if the editors of the “The Journal of Animal Ethics” say otherwise, then I say they have really gone to the dogs.
Source: Calling animals ‘pets’ is insulting, academics claim, John Bigham, The Telegraph, April 28, 2011