Allow me to begin by saying I am not writing this to rile anyone up…or to start a “don’t diss my dog war” I am writing it to educate and pose a valid question.

You see I have long been someone who enjoys animals, but think that some people (including some of my own family members) go too far by treating them like humans. My mom does not care for pets in the home and just doesn’t get it when others are so into their pets. My daughter is drawn to all animals and can connect with them in an amazing way and if there is an animal nearby she becomes it’s best friend. My daughters long range dream is to have a ranch where she rescues horses and provides therapy to troubled teens through them and she plans to have several dogs and cats as well!

How can three females in the same family feel so differently about animals?

I just read a very interesting article that may just answer that question. The article Emotional Power Broker in the Modern Family reports on a study by David Blouin of Indiana University who categorizes how most people feel about animals in three categories:

“…one group, which he labels “dominionists,” see pets as an appendage to the family, a useful helper ranking below humans that is beloved but, ultimately, replaceable. Many people from rural areas…qualified.”

“Another group of owners, labeled by Dr. Blouin as “humanists,” are the type who cherish their dog as a favored child or primary companion, to be pampered, allowed into bed, and mourned like a dying child at the end. These include the people who cook special meals for a pet, take it to exercise classes, to therapy — or leave it stock options in their will.”

“The third, called “protectionists,” strive to be the animal’s advocate. These owners have strong views about animal welfare, but their views on how a pet should be treated — whether it sleeps inside or outside, when it should be put down — vary depending on what they think is “best” for the animal. Its members include people who will “save” a dog tied to tree outside a store, usually delivering it home with a lecture about how to care for an animal.”

“These are ideologies, and so protectionists are very critical of humanists, who are very critical of dominionists, and so on,” Dr. Blouin said. “You can see where this can create problems if people in a family have different orientations. Every little decision about the pet is loaded.”

While I very much appreciate understanding where others are coming from when it comes to how they see their pets…I am compelled to wonder what the corresponding effect is on a major crisis that looms world wide.

When a loving family or individual has a pet and that pet becomes “a doted over member of the family” is that animal the appropriate recipient of the time, attention and love the family pours into the animal?

What of the 140 million orphans in the world? What of the thousands of children sitting waiting for foster care?

Could it be that animals do deserve good care and love, but not the care and love meant for a human? Is the reason there are so many children without families is that animals have become an “easy” substitute for the harder task of caring for a child who awaits a family?

I am not saying this to condemn those who love their animals, we love our animals…we have two horses, two cats and I previously wrote of the hole left in our home when our dog Blaze died. I am suggesting this because … well, because it is what it is.

I just can’t help but wonder?

What do you think? Please share your thoughts with me!

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Encouraging others for Him. Author/Speaker, Be The Mom & LifeWay's Beautiful Mess Bible Study. Creator of MomLifeToday & MomLifeBootCamp. Devoted wife & fun-loving mom of two, living the simple life on a farm in central Kentucky.

1 Comment

Suzanne Thomas · March 25, 2011 at 8:24 am

Is it too late to comment on this? Because if it is not too late, I would like to say that I think some people, especially empty nesters, try to fill a “void” left in their home, with pets, and it bothers me in my core. I love animals, I have two dogs. But, I have never thought they are meant to be endowed with the value God gave to people. And, I don’t think God approves of that either. I never gave it the thought you have, though, and I appreciate very muh your ideas regarding orphan and foster care!

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