Now we are being asked to call our pets ‘companions’ - but should we?
Animal owners were told not to call their dogs and cats pets but refer to them as “companions” as pets is a derogatory term.
The Express reports that the head of an animal rights organisation told owners to avoid using the word pet as it is now deemed as demeaning. Ingrid Newkirk, president of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), claimed the term pet suggested animals were just merely a “commodity”. PETA has long called for owners to be renamed human carers or guardians.
Women were banned from owning property and patronisingly called “sweetie” or “honey” to make them seem “less of a person”.
The 70-year-old activist from Surrey added: “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’.”
According to the latest research and data of 2023 from the World Animal Foundation, 13 million U.K. households (34%) own a pet dog, while 12 million own a pet cat (28%).
Ms Newkirk claimed the language around animals is very important and urged people to describe the animals they look after as “companions”.
She added: “How we say things governs how we think about them, so a tweak in our language when we talk about the animals in our homes is needed. “A pet is a commodity but animals should not be things on shelves or in boxes, where people say, ‘I like the look of that one, it matches my curtains or my sense of myself’. “Hopefully the time is passing for that kind of attitude.”
Her comments echoed a 2011 academic journal which insisted animals should be known as “free-living”. The Journal of Animal Ethics also called for a new ‘animal language’ regarding pets.
It stated: “Despite its prevalence, ‘pets’ is surely a derogatory term both of the animals concerned and their human carers. “Again the word ‘owners’, whilst technically correct in law, harks back to a previous age when animals were regarded as just that: property, machines or things to use without moral constraint.”
It added: “We invite authors to use the words ‘free-living’, ‘free-ranging’ or ‘free-roaming’ rather than ‘wild animals’. “For most, ‘wildness’ is synonymous with uncivilised, unrestrained, barbarous existence. “There is an obvious pre-judgement here that should be avoided.”
Ms Newkirk was active in a number of animal protests, once setting fire to a car at a motor show and stripping naked numerous times to publicise PETA’s high-profile ‘I’d Rather Go Naked Than Wear Fur’ campaign.
She also wrote a book called ‘Animalkind’ which is about animals’ abilities and the need to be compassionate towards them. Ms Newkirk is also calling for phrases such as “flog a dead horse” to stop being used because they refer to animal cruelty.
Some animal enthusiasts have even urged people not to keep pets at all. University of Kent’s Corey Wrenn said: “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’.”
(Story source: The Express)