People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) says humans should stop calling their animals pets because such label is not only “derogatory” but also suggests they are merely a “commodity.”

According to Daily Mail, Ingrid Newkirk, the president of PETA, world’s largest animal rights organization — based in Norfolk, Virginia — on Friday, said animals should rather be called companions.

The 70-year-old British animal rights activist also likened the trend of calling animals “pets” to the pre-feminism years when women were denied ownership of properties and “undermined” with words such as “sweetie” or “honey.”

PETA founder Ingrid Newkirk.PETA
PETA founder Ingrid Newkirk. PETA

She pointed out that — contrary to widely held views — animals are just like human beings with emotions and interests and not something that should be owned.

“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,” she was quoted to have said.

“A dog is a feeling, whole individual, with emotions and interests, not something you ‘have’.”

Newkirk is advocating for people to see the animals they look after as “companions”, adding: “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,” she added.

Her comment is coming about the same time arguments are intensifying among ethicists on whether people should keep pets at all or not.

Corey Wrenn, a scholar at the University of Kent, had in 2019, 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’.”

Newkirk has made headlines for several of her advocacy for animal rights, including ‘Animalkind,’ her book which examined animals’ abilities and the need to be compassionate towards them.

She had also pushed for proscription of several terms such as “flog a dead horse,” noting they refer to animal cruelty.



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