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Home arrow Environment arrow Pets and People: The Ethics of Our Relationships with Companion Animals


  • 1. Of course, meat-eaters might also refrain from eating certain animals because of the animals’ taste or ostensible lack of nutrition, or for reasons pertaining to the meat- eaters’ religious or nationalistic commitments, or even out of fear of legal repercussions (if, e.g., consumption of an animal were outlawed by the state).
  • 2. However, as I shall suggest later, the use of family metaphors for animals can also be problematic.
  • 3. The word “pet” originally denoted “a hand-reared lamb” in Scotland and northern England, where it also meant “a spoilt or favourite child.” The word came from Scottish Gaelic “peata,” meaning “tame animal.” Oxford English Dictionary Online, s.v. “pet,” accessed August 3, 2016, Entry/141778 ?rskey=F 11mER&result=5&isAdvanced=false#eid.
  • 4. Oxford English Dictionary Online, s.v. “pet,” accessed August 3, 2016, http://www. ?rskey=F 11 mER&result=5 &isAdv anced=false#eid.
  • 5. Thus, some people speak of “house-breaking” their pets. Although it is obvious that animals who share homes with human beings must follow certain rules, just as the humans themselves do, the term “house-broken” suggests that the animal cannot simply be itself but must be reconstructed for the human being(s) with whom it lives.
  • 6. In his chapter, Bernard Rollin gives several examples of genuine friendships between animals.


Harvey, Jean. 1999. Civilized Oppression. Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield.

Canadian Animal Health Institute. 2015. “Latest Canadian Pet Population Figures Released.” February 12. canadian-pet-population-figures-cahi-2014.

Francione, Gary. n.d. “Excerpt from Introduction to Animal Rights: Your Child or the DogГ

Humane Society of the United States. 2015. “Pets by the Numbers.” http://www. tics.html.

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