Pet Ownership – A Good Thing ?

A Big Disclaimer: This is just a topic for discussion. A “dig deep” kind of thought process. I am not hating Fluffy, Bunny or Spot, really I’m not. Just trying to see how far our ideologies go. So, take this in how it was intended. A deep thought shared.I’d love to open it up for everyone’s input: How So here we go: How do you feel about pet ownership? Really. Honestly. How about from a Vegan-Compassion-Whole-Planet-Healing- Economy perspective?

If you’re like me, then you probably grew up with a dog and/or a cat, some fish, a gerbil, and maybe a newt or two. You probably became really attached to your pet and had a very deep emotional connection with your furry little friend for many years, if not decades.

Later in life, possibly even right now, you may still enjoy the companionship, loyalty and playfulness that you derive from your pets. The benefits of this are not debatable. They’re well documented and researched. People actually do live longer and more happily with pets. Kids learn great life skills from responsible animal ownership. From a dollars and cents perspective, the pet industry is a multi-billion dollar machine providing much employment and dollars for the economic engine.

What isn’t discussed much is the impact of pet ownership on the environment and on the animals themselves.

Hang tight. Ride this thought out with me. I promise not to get preachy, and I haven’t take any sides on this issue.. I’m just opening this up for discussion, trying to create a dialogue.

Many of us vegans subscribe to the philosophy of not consuming any animal flesh or animal bi–products for some pretty big reasons: helping the environment (water usage, land usage, air quality, greenhouse gas) , compassion for the animals (non confinement, air quality, food quality, drug injections ) and/or for the benefit of the economy (vegan protein costs less so we can feed more, the poor can afford vegan protein). Any combo of the above are valid reasons to go vegan and each is a blog topic unto itself.

Some people are now starting to question whether these same issues are equally valid when applied to pet ownership? We hold the circus, Zoo and Hollywood to a higher standard than ever before, with most people now against animal confinement in these places. So should these standards now apply to Fifi or Felix in our own homes?

If you answer yes then it raises some big questions:

Did we not at some point domesticate these wild animals? Have we not made them our property? Would these animals be better off without us as their masters? Should we be importing pets for ourselves from foreign lands far away even when they are not indigenous to our climate and geography?

Sure, there are major differences between the lives and treatment of a house cat or family dog and KFC’s Franken-chick creations, the tiger in a cage or factory farmed cattle. Certainly in most cases our animal companions known as pets are treated so much better.

But, let’s delve a little deeper in to the life of an average house pet.

We isolate and essentially confine them. In urban (non-country) homes, condos and apartments, pets are not free to roam or to fly wherever they want or swim the lakes or oceans.

We choose what they eat. That may mean unhealthy, non nutritious, GMO, non organic, meat based, foods.

We medicate them. Many of our pets now experience human–made illnesses and thus take many pharmaceuticals and drugs that make the cycle of unhealthiness for the pets even worse.

We overbreed. The domesticated animal population is exploding around us, filling shelters and pet rescues. If the world is trying to reduce Genetically Modified Food breeding would the same logic not apply to overbreeding a species of animal? Millions of pets are killed for lack of homes so shouldn’t we ban the breeding?

We spend big bucks. I am not trying to be all altruistic, but if we took the billions of dollars we spent on doggy rain coats or sweaters and other toys, treats and things we could make a dent in hunger relief, educate people and help the disadvantaged. In the bigger picture, who does pet ownership serve? The owner? The pet ??

Please do not misunderstand my line of questioning or reasoning, I truly loved my dog and cats growing up and I even had pet piranhas. I benefited greatly from these experiences and would not be the person I am today without it. I am just starting to wonder and would love to hear your thoughts on the topic….

What do you think of pet ownership from a Vegan-Compassion-Whole-Planet-Healing- perspective ?
Should we hold pet owners to a new higher standard ?
Should we increase efforts to decrease pet breeding to reduce strain on shelters ?
How do you feel about pet confinement in urban dwellings ?
How can we improve living conditions for pets world wide ?
How do we feel about buying pets from a store vs a breeder vs a shelter ?

Created by Jeff Golfman of The Cool Vegetarian and The Raw Office

Also See : Elephants for Entertainment, Profits and Captivity ?


Latest Comments

  1. Amanda says:

    You have mentioned some very important points about pets but let’s also not forget how many die in the raising of the animals to be sold as pets, their mistreatment and sufferings (PETA’s website has some great videos on these). I, personally, would only own a pet if I had saved it (ie it was going to die, someone wanted to get rid of it or put it down, etc) and only if I could offer it everything it needed. Living in a small apartment and never being home to care for it is neglecting some of the animal’s basic needs. When we have pets as our “companions” we have to remember to be there for them and be their companions too…it can’t just be a one-way road -that is shelfish and they deserve the same respect that all living being do whether they are a fellow human or any other creature.

  2. says:

    I don’t think animals should be bred for domestication; there are too many beings, human and otherwise, who desperately need our care. With education and thought, consumers have the power to change the world.

    I’m not convinced that cats can lead healthy vegan lives. I’m not sure about dogs either. But neither can I justify breeding animals to feed these animals. If everything were scaled down – if animal consumption (and the human population) were in balance with nature – maybe then our four-legged companions would aid in wasting no part of any animal killed or hunted. But we are so far gone from such an existence…

  3. Hugh Cruickshank says:

    Thanks for bringing up this very sensitive subject, I think it’s one that really needs open discusion. I myself have enjoyed the companionship of dogs several times during my lifetime and see the joy they bring to other peoples lives in my community.

    As I see people picking up after their dogs I wonder about the mass of those little plastic bags filled with dog waste and their impact on the planet. The factory farming that supplies food and treats for all pets, and the medictaions that end up in the water cycle. It’s horrific to think about now, but as pet ownership continues to escalate and the rising world population, where does it all lead? What is the true environmental impact of owning a pet, or two or three? Things to think about.

  4. rochelle kent-ellis says:

    Hello all,

    I study Animal Science at the University of Brighton in the UK and i am currently writing a research paper looking at vegans and vegetarians that own cats and whether they feed them meat foods (including commerical, home made) or plant-based (including commercial, home made) and ethical reasoning.
    If anyone would be interested in helping me out be completing my questionnaire then please get in touch at Requirements are you must be over 18, be a vegetarian or vegan (for ethical reasons not just dietary), and own/have previously owned a cat.

    Thank you very much,


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