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Animals As Companions

  1. Adopt Homeless Animals

  2. Desexing

  3. The Problem With The Words "Pet" And "Owner"?

  4. The Problem With The Institution Of 'Pet' Ownership

  5. Wild Animals As 'Pets'

Click here for answers to frequently asked questions about
Animals As Companions Q&A


Adopt Homeless Animals

It's our duty to adopt homeless animals from shelters.

We have created this overpopulation nightmare where millions of animals end up in shelters on death row, and it's therefore our job to sort it out.

Primarily responsible for the huge numbers of animals are the following:

  • Backyard breeders: people with an undesexed animal who allow him or her to breed, and either sell or give away the babies.

  • Professional breeders: anyone professionally breeding animals for profit.

  • Puppy mills or puppy farms: essentially dog factories, where dogs live in terrible conditions and are forced to churn out litter after litter.

  • Petshops: somewhere animals are displayed in the window alongside the other products which are for sale.

Second in terms of culpability are those who acquire an animal from any of the above people or places. And last, by by no means least, liability also lies with those who abandon their animals and make them homeless.

Now, the solution to this problem is clear: an immediate and complete stop to all breeding. But this will never happen if people continue to support the people and institutions that breed animals. While people keep buying from those who breed animals, they will stay in business, continue to breed animals, the overpopulation problem will go on, and the shelters will remain full of animals on death row.

So stopping animal breeders by withdrawing our support is the way to do it. And that means adopting animals from shelters.

Remember, homeless animals are not dumped because they're defective. They're abandoned because of a defective mindset dominant in society that not only sees non-human animals as expendable 'things' - things to be cast aside at a whim - but also, by law, as mere property.

All animals - including the homeless ones - are special. Shelter animals all deserve a second chance. They all deserve a loving home. If you save a life by adopting from a shelter you will exponentially enrich your own life: there's nothing like a non-human animal to show you the meaning of true love!

As the slogan goes: adopt, don't shop. Or, if you prefer: don’t breed or buy while shelter animals die. Or, there's this one: don't buy or breed while shelters animals are in need. Whichever slogan you like, keep it in mind, and educate others so that they can adopt homeless animals too.

Also, think carefully about which species of animal best suits your lifestyle. For example, if you're not one to get out and about for exercise, you're better off with a cat rather than a dog. Do some reading to find a species of animal that is a good fit for you. Once you've decided what type of animal is your perfect match, research what the needs of that species is so that you can care for him or her the very best you can.

Further to that, if you do you make a mistake with regard to a species of animal which suits your lifestyle, what NOT to do is dump the animal back at the shelter. Why? Because it is your duty to make changes in your lifestyle to correct the originally incorrect choice. Don't traumatise the animal in question further by dumping him or her once again. It was your decision: now make it work.

If you can't adopt an animal, then foster an animal. And if you can't do either, then volunteer at a shelter. Animals are homeless because of us - we created this nightmare for them, so the least we can do is everything we can to unravel the mess.

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Seeing as there are so many homeless and abandoned animals, can there possibly be any reason to breed even one more animal?

It doesn't matter whether someone is a professional breeder or a backyard breeder and whether they do it for profit or not, breeding any animal while others sit on death row is selfish, short-sighted and irresponsible.

I once saw a bumper sticker that sums up my sentiments well. It said:

"Got a conscience? Don't breed your animal.
Need a reason not to? Visit a shelter and see."

If that's not convincing, let me ask you this: have you been to a shelter recently? Have you seen all the innocent animals who will spend their last days behind bars unless someone comes to adopt them?

If you haven't, then get yourself to a shelter today and take a good, hard look at all the animals waiting on death row. Look into those cages and gaze into the unknowing eyes of those pure-hearted creatures who might soon face a lethal injection.

At that point, ask yourself whether you really want to add even more animals to the millions around the world who live their last moments unloved, alone, and frightened in shelter cages. Because if you breed your animal, you'll be contributing to that. Don't be part of this problem - instead, allow the image of those animals on death row to convince you that desexing your animal is the right thing to do.

Desexing really is an essential part of being a responsible animal guardian. As explained above, it’s best for the welfare of all companion animals by helping to curb the overpopulation, but it’s also best for the actual animal for social and medical reasons. There are lots of myths about desexing - don't be guided by them, be guided by the facts. Talk to your vet about it and you'll see that desexing your animal is nothing to worry about and is actually beneficial for them.

To recap: there's a massive overpopulation of companion animals and not enough loving forever homes for them all. Millions upon millions of animals all around the world are killed every single year because people continue to breed them. There's no need for you to add to the problem by breeding your animal - desexing is cheap and an integral part of being a responsible animal guardian.

So, be part of the solution: schedule an appointment with your vet now to desex your companion animal.

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The Problem With The Words "Pet" And "Owner"

By law, companion animals are our property. So according to the law, they are "pets", and we are "owners". They are mere ‘things’ that we own and can pretty much do whatever we want with, as long as we are within the (very lenient and absurdly permissive) companion animal laws.

In fact, without at doubt, the law is more concerned if your DVD player is stolen than if something happens to your so-called ‘pet’. I can assure you, based on first-hand experience of both circumstances, that the police will come running if your DVD player is stolen, but shrug their shoulders if your beloved dog is killed in a hit and run.

While both the DVD player and the dog are regarded as property by law, the law truly considers an animal in your care less important than any inanimate object you possess. And the pet/owner dichotomy supports this dynamic by sustaining the idea that animals are nothing more than property.

So, what can we do to change this? Well, specifically with regard to companion animals we can stop using the words "pet" and "owner" and use the words "companion" and "guardian" instead.

Also, with regard to all animals, we can refer to them as "he" or "she" rather than "it". The former is how you'd refer to someone, and the latter is how you'd refer to something, so talking about animals in this way helps the to instil the idea in others' minds that animals are sentient beings, not things.

But the most powerful thing we can do to change this animals-as-property situation is to be vegan and educate others about veganism.

Being vegan means you don't use any animal-based products at all, which means you're not engaging in the dynamic of animals as human property. Helping others to go vegan will, one by one, change people's relationship with animals and eventually lead to a world where animals are no longer our property by law. This will create a world where there is no animal use, and without animal use there will be no animal abuse. It will be a just world for all animals.

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The Problem With The Institution Of 'Pet' Ownership

In summary, the problem is the owning of another sentient being as a piece of property, and controlling that animal's world for the entirety of his or her life.

However, while the institution of 'pet' ownership is appalling by its very nature, there are millions of homeless animals in existence whom we must help. Their nightmare situation is one that we humans have created, and it's therefore our moral duty to help them by sharing our homes with them.

So, yes, owning a non-human animal does go against animal rights theory, which maintains that we should not have ANY animals as property - no matter how well they're treated. But, yes, we must (paradoxically) continue to be a part of this institution in order to help the homeless animals in need.

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Wild Animals As 'Pets'

Wild animals belong in the wild.

While the above statement is logical, the exotic 'pet' trade - that is, the illegal selling of protected wildlife - is booming. Aside from the illegality of it, it's an extremely abusive trade.

The mothers are killed so that they don't hurt anyone by trying to protect their young. The babies are then snatched up (sometimes from their dead mother's arms) and stuffed into plastic bags with their mouths, hands and feet taped up. Between the terror of the capture and the extreme stress of the journey, animals often are injured or die.

The animals that do survive end up in the hands of people without the expertise to care for them. This lack of knowledge leads to neglect and abuse: some animals end up deformed from malnutrition, some self-mutilate due to boredom, and others die from the stress of being imprisoned.

In some cases, the people get fed up with the difficulty of looking after the animal and dump him or her. Abandoned in the wild without ever having had the chance to develop the skills to fend for themselves, they often starve to death.

The long and the short of it is what I said at the start: wild animals belong in the wild.

On top of that, there are literally millions of homeless animals in shelters in every country in the world desperate for a home. So if you want to have an animal in your life, adopt a homeless animal and leave wild animals alone.

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Adopt a homeless animal instead - they all deserve a second chance

It's estimated that 130,000 dogs and 60,000 cats are killed every year in Australia because there are not enough homes for them all. And the global numbers amount to millions upon millions every single year.

Puppy mills are a major contributor to the terrible problem of overpopulation. Puppy mills are essentially 'dog factories' where dogs are forced to churn out litter after litter, with no thought for the welfare of the dogs and all thought for profit. The dogs live in appallingly dirty, cramped conditions all their lives, and when they no longer serve their purpose they're killed, dumped or sold to vivisection laboratories.

Petshops fit into the picture because puppy mills are generally where petshops get their animals from. Furthermore, having animals in shop windows encourages impulse purchases, and adding an animal to your family should be a conscious, careful decision - NOT one to be made while shoe shopping.

Breeders contribute enormously to the tragic statistics above too. And it doesn't matter whether they're professional breeders or backyard breeders, and whether they breed for profit or not, because while there are homeless animals sitting on death row in shelters, any and all animal breeding is utterly irresponsible.

Now, here's where you come in. You can either be part of the problem or part of the solution. You can either buy animals from puppy mills, petshops or breeders and be part of the problem. Or you can adopt from a shelter or rescue organisation and be part of the solution.

If I haven't convinced you, visit your local shelter to see the homeless animals. Let their innocent faces convince you that adopting is the only responsible choice to make.

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