Relationships with Animals

Revised Spring 2008-Caron

Relating to animals as pets is pleasurable (#) because pets can provide people with companionship and love. There is a responsibility (#) in which a pet owner has to take care of their pet. Pets and people can form a strong bond of friendship (#). When people bond with pets, the pets can become a part of their family (#).

The majority of people in the United States own pets. These people need to be responsible for their pets, and give them the care and love they need. If people do not treat their animals as pets or peers, animal neglect and cruelty may occur.

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According to the American Pet Products Manufacturers Association there are approximately 90 million owned cats and 74.8 million owned dogs in the United States (APPMA 2007-2008). The popularity of owning a pet represents how valued pets are to their owners.

Information about pets is common in American society. There are thousands of websites that have information on everything from what type of pet to buy, to which vacation spots are best for pets. Most of the country’s laws regarding pets are also posted online. The internet has made it easy for people to share pictures, stories, and information about their own pets with the world. Also, stories about pets can frequently be found in newspapers across America. Heroic animal stories are popular with the media. America even has a TV channel dedicated to just pets and animals (Animal Planet). Besides having a TV channel, pets also share the spotlight with humans during the commercials.

Numerous movies have been made that feature pets as their main stars. Animal movies play a large role in the media. These movies tend to play on human emotion and often warm and touch people’s hearts. Some famous animal movies are Homeward Bound the Incredible Journey, Free Willy, Old Yeller, Babe, Seabiscuit, and Beethoven. These movies illustrate how much American society loves and values pets.

Also, certain cities hold special events for pets and their owners. For example, at Christmas, malls have a day when people can bring their pets along to get their picture taken with Santa Clause. Billings holds an event similar to this. This activity is something most people would do with their children, but in this day an age pets have become children to some people. A pet website said, “Names like Max, Molly and Sam are pretty popular with pets today. In fact, more than 50% of dog and cat owners give their pets a human name” (Fun Facts About Our Favorite Pets). Pets are usually considered part of a person’s family. A loss of a pet can create large amounts of sorrow.

The idea of caring for pets like humans manifests itself in veterinary clinics. Vet clinics can be found in every town and city across the nation. Veterinarians go to school for seven years, almost as long as a doctor for humans, to become a “pet” doctor. Pets receive care as wells as people do in these clinics. Some people dedicate their whole lives to taking care of animals. They treat them with respect and realize that animals need love too. Because of this caring nature, animal shelters have been set up for lost or abandoned pets. Animal shelters can be found in every city across the nation. People have been dedicating their lives to pets since America’s colonial days. The Women's Humane Society was the first animal shelter in the United States. It was founded in 1869 by Caroline Earle White (Organization Info).

People often spend large amounts of money on their pets. On average, dog owners spent $219 on veterinary visits annually, and cat owners spent an average of $175 on routine veterinary visits (APPMA 2007-2008). Also, a pet website found that, “more money is spent by America on dog food than on baby food each year” (Fun Facts About Our Favorite Pets). The willingness of an owner to spend that amount of money on a pet through out its lifetime shows a great bond between the pet and its owner.

Also, health benefits have been linked to the activity of owning pets. Purdue University School of Veterinary Medicine has found that, “Human-animal interaction has profound physiological meaning. People, in contact with animals experience a decrease in blood pressure, reduced anxiety, and a general feeling of well being” (History and Mission). Also, Purdue has a department called the Center for the Human-Animal Bond. Purdue explains the human animal bond as, “The dynamic relationship between people and animals in that each influences the psychological and physiological state of the other (History and Mission). Animals and pets have been researched at universities nationwide. This project by Purdue Veterinary School is another example of how animals are strongly valued.

The idea of relating to pets as peers can be extended to consideration of wild animals as peers. In the Yellowstone River Study, the Yellowstone County Local Civic Leader says, “There were lots of deer, there were lots of everything [the animals] were able to move unconstrained and humans have changed that” (p. 51). If people do not respect wild animals and their natural habitat, the animals themselves and their habitat may be destroyed. Because this example is prevalent, the government has created departments to deal with such issues. Each state has a fish and game department which manages and protects wildlife. The creation of these departments shows the respect people have for animals in the wild.

Pets provide a special type of love that people cannot give to each other. Lord Byron, the English Romantic poet, had inscribed upon the gravestone of his beloved Newfoundland, Boatswain, the following: "Beauty without vanity, strength without insolence, courage without ferocity, and all the virtues of man without his vices" (Fun Facts About Our Favorite Pets). This quote solely states how much Lord Byron respected and loved his dog. This type of love and relation to animals is felt by numerous owners today. But when these owners stop feeling the respect and stop caring about their pets animal cruelty can occur. Owning a pet comes with a responsibility to care for and respect the pet. Animal control officers work hard to protect animals from being beaten, neglected, and wrongfully destroyed. When the owner’s relationship with the pet reaches the stage of neglect or abuse, all respect for and relation to the pet is gone.

Take a chance on owning pets. It can provide a person with great health benefits and a lifelong companionship. It seems as though everyone in America owns at least one pet. Responsibility must be taken for these pets. Respect for these pets is also important. The special bond between a pet and its owner can be a fulfilling experience.

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In order to own a pet remember to have compassion (#). Fulfillment (#) can occur after an owner establishes a bond with their pet. The golden rule (#) applies to all people who own pets. Happiness (#) and joyfulness (#) are both outcomes of the human-animal bond.

Works Cited

American Pet Products Manufacturers Association. “U.S. Pet Ownership Statistics.” Online Posting. 2007-2008. The Humane Society of the United States. 29 Nov. 2007 <http://www.hsus.org/pets/issues_affecting_our_pets/pet_overpopulation_and_ownership_statistics/us_pet_ownership_statistics.html>.

Anonymous. “Fun Facts About Our Favorite Pets.” Online Posting. BestFriendsPetCare.com. 19 Nov. 2007 < http://www.bestfriendspetcare.com/pet_facts/petfacts-people-n-pets.cfm>.

Anonymous. “Homeward Bound Picture.” Online Posting. 3 Aug. 2007. The BEAT, Reed Elsevier Inc. 17 Nov. 2007
<http://pwbeat.publishersweekly.com/blog/category/meta/page/2/>.

Gilbertz, S., Horton, C., and Hall, D. “Yellowstone River Cultural Inventory 2006.” Online posting. 2006. DNRC Conservation & Resource Development. 29 Nov. 2007 <http://dnrc.mt.gov/cardd/yellowstonerivercouncil/2006culturalinventory.asp>.

Purdue University. “History and Mission.” Online Posting. 2000. Center for the Human-Animal Bond. 19 Nov. 2007 < http://www.vet.purdue.edu/chab/index.htm>.

Women’s Humane Society. “Organization Info.” Online Posting. 2006. The Women’s Humane Society Online Website. 29 Nov. 2007 <http://www.petfinder.com/shelters/PA102.html>.

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