It came to my attention recently that I have been an unconscionable neanderthal when it comes to some of God’s creatures. Yes, I have been guilty of horribly egregious sins against my fellow inhabitants of planet Earth. I want to publicly thank the editors of that amazing new academic publication Journal of Animal Ethics for helping me see the error of my ways.
Unlike People for the Ethical Treatment of animals the Journal editors do not take an obvious anti human approach to the subject of the way animals are treated. PETA’s approach made me angry and defensive. Destroying someone else’s property, calling people murderers for eating meat and equating the killing of animals with the murder of a person were simply too much for my poor male psyche to handle.
The editors of Journal of Animal Ethics managed to penetrate my defenses. Their rational and enlightened approach to changing the way people perceive the nonhuman co-habitants of our planet made me think. Asking me to use different words and phrases to describe animals really penetrated my defenses. Rover is not a pet. Rover is not a piece of property. Rover is an animal companion!
It is so clear now that those playful little Raccoons are not pests or varmints. They are free-living animals. They may have a few bad habits, like breaking into garbage cans or breaking into Rover’s food bin and eating all of his treats. Still, they are part of God’s creation and do not deserve to be treated like vermin.
I admit I am still a little concerned about the idea that we should no longer refer to certain animals as wild. Calling them free roaming animals is descriptive, but I worry about the impact of adding such a benign label to a creature like a wolf, a bear or a cougar.
I realize my concerns are probably a little fear left over from the instincts of my distant ancestors. Free roaming animal predators had difficulty distinguishing early humans from their regular prey. I am certain today’s enlightened animals will not follow the predatory paths of their ancestors.
I still have a few questions about how to deal with some possible issues in the future. While I really want to view the other creatures around me in a more enlightened fashion, I wonder how these changes will impact my life and the lives of other humans. Accordingly, I have a few questions I hope the Journal will answer at some point:
1. If another human manages to take my animal companion and hold him against his will, do I file theft or kidnaping charges with the police? This may sound naive, but if animal companions are no longer property, theft charges might not be possible.
2. If my animal companion should lose interest in me and prefer to live with another human, can I sue my ex-animal companion’s new companion for alienation of affection and emotional pain and suffering.
3. If a free roaming animal comes into the yard, attacks my animal companion and I kill the free roaming animal can I plead defense of third party when I am arrested for violating the free roaming animal’s rights.
4. If my animal companion and I are forced to end our relationship due to incompatibility or irreconcilable differences, will the State force me to pay support to my estranged animal companion until he is taken into a new home?
5. How can I teach my grandchildren not to approach a free roaming animal when they see one? If I say it is a wild, vicious or dangerous creature I would be giving in to my old way of thinking, and I might be subject to prosecution for hate speech or making discriminatory comments? Any suggestions from the journal editors would be appreciated.
I do have a few doubts about how all of this will work. Still, I feel so much better about my relationships with animal companions and free roaming animals. Right now, I need to go down to dinner. My wife prepared a wonderful beef brisket for dinner and it smells great! Oh! I hope that steer was never some kid’s animal companion.