Companion Animals - Introductory Text

Companion animals

By P. Sandøe, S. B. Christiansen & A. T. Kristensen
Ethics of animal use. Wiley-Blackwell. 2008 


The suggestion that the keeping of companion animals is just another way of using animals may upset some people. Rather, these people may argue, keeping animals as companions is a way of life that includes animals on a par with friends and members of the family. And the similarities are obvious:

"Someone living with a pet is living with a family. A pet owner is greeted at the door when she returns at night; she has someone to sit on the couch with and share the television. There is someone she must shop for, feed and care for and who thus gives to her own life the paced, circular rhythm of family life.

Beck & Katcher 1996, p. 40

There is no doubt that for many owners of companion animals, the bond they share with their animals displays a number of similarities with the bond they share with human friends and family members, in particular children. The strength of this relation, the human-animal bond, is increasingly recognised and acknowledged when various situations involving companion animals are addressed. However, many also point out differences in animal-human and human-human relations. Certainly, an uncritical comparison of the former with the latter is misleading.

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