Saturday 19 September 2020

It's time to stop calling our companion animals "pets"

I have always thought that describing companion animals as "pets" is inappropriate or to put it another way, we can do better. I subscribe to the attitude of PETA in this respect. It's interesting and ironic that the word "pet" is in their acronym which stands for People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals. This is why they have asked the public to pronounce the acronym as if they are saying "Peter". It's a slight embarrassment to the organisation, but back to the point of this article.

Discussing the topic: Are humans more valuable than animals? And: the pros and cons of using the word "pet".

The point is that the use of language effects the behaviour of humans. It works backwards. Humans create the language and if that language is imperfect it can have an impact upon the behaviour of humans. Or it perpetuates bad behaviour. Use of the word "pet" encourages the notion that people own sentient beings and can do what they like with those animals. Clearly, the vast majority of people treat their companion animals nicely but there will always be a significant minority who don't. Changing the use of language may have a beneficial impact upon these people and upon society in general which may in turn improve companion animal welfare. The law supports the notion that people own animals as they are considered "chattels" under the law in the UK. The law needs upgrading.

In the video we see Piers Morgan barely giving the lady from PETA a chance to respond to his questions. He bullies and dominates and she handles it very well. It is very hard to deny that she has good sense. It is hard to argue against PETA's argument. It doesn't matter whether you're right-wing or left-wing or down the middle. Piers Morgan is clearly a right-wing personality or at least he behaves like that. Right-wing people are more prone to regard pets as an object to be owned. That is the stereotypical argument.

They also discuss other sayings like "let the cat out of the bag". This is a very old fashion saying which goes back to times when farmers were selling pigs in a bag. Rather than put a young pig in a bag they put a cat instead because the cat had a lower or nil value and if the cat escaped the fraud was exposed hence the phrase "let the cat out of the bag", which means that a lie or fraud has been exposed. PETA don't like the phrase because it denigrates the domestic cat. It's a phrase from past times which should be pensioned off to put it politely.

As a society, we owe it to ourselves to do all we can to improve animal welfare. It reflects on us. Small changes to language may help us achieve that objective. Piers Morgan should do better as an interviewer! Although, I do like him.

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