The Grapevine

Is The Word 'Pet' Patronizing Our Animal Friends? PETA Thinks So

Per a new report, animal rights group PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) wants you to stop using the word “pet” to describe your furry friend since they apparently have a problem with it.

Companion Animals

So what should we call them instead? Well, the group said that dog owners should refer to them as “guardians,” while the pets should be called “companion animals.” This is because describing our animals in a certain way would help dictate how we would treat them.

What’s wrong with the term “pet?” Well, according to Jennifer White of PETA, one of the word’s problems is that it’s very patronizing to animals, she said on leading U.K. television show Good Morning Britain, and in a combative segment with hosts Piers Morgan and Susanna Reid, where she urged people to think of alternatives to the word.

“A lot of people at home who have dogs or cats will call these animals pets and refer to themselves as owners and this implies that the animals are a possession, like a car for example. When you refer to animals not as the living beings that they are but as an inanimate object, it can reflect our treatment on these animals. Animals are their own individual beings,” she said.

However, not everyone shares the sentiment. For example, Dog owner Nick Ede said on the show that concentrating on such banalities actually trivializes the good work that the organization does for animals. Morgan on the other hand, even reiterated that PETA’s name even contains the word “pet.”

Predictably, pet owners then flocked to twitter to share their own thoughts about the topic, with some agreeing and some the exact opposite. For example, one user tweeted “You are being ridiculous and doing harm to your organisation,” while another said “Check the definitions: PET: An animal kept for companionship PEST: A destructive animal that attacks crops, food or livestock. Are people using PETA funds for this charade?”

PETA, however, was firm in its stance, even releasing a statement after the show.

“As we come to learn more and more about animals it’s time that we start phasing out harmful words that trivialize animal abuse or perpetuate this idea that animals are objects,” it said.

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