this is a reprint of an Op-Ed piece taken from the New York Times,written by Jessica Pierce, a bioethicist and author of "Run Spot, Run"-
America is experiencing a population boom-of pets. Driven by rising disposable income and urbanization and evolving attitudes toward animals the number of pets has grown more rapidly since the mid-1970's than the human population to the point where there are now about as many pets as there are people.
We just don't buy pets as never before we also treat them differently. More animals are living in our homes and are given over to a life of leisure. Animals are spoken of as family members-and not just dogs and cats but rabbits, rats, bearded dragons and snakes. We feed them scientifically formulated organic diets and take them to veterinary specialists of all stripes. Veterinarians and psychologists describe these changing practices as evidence of a deepening "human-animal bond".
Let me confess upfront that I have taken an active part in the pet-keeping bonanza. I grew up with a menagerie of pets and as a mother was determined to provide my daughter with the same joyful experiences. I was so indulgent that by the time my daughter was in elementary school our house was known as "the neighborhood zoo". Now that she is a teenager we've vastly reduced the census of animals in our home but we still live with two dogs. I can't imagine life without them.
I have become increasingly uncomfortable with the very notion of "pet". Scientists studying animal cognition and emotion are continually peeling back the mysteries of animal minds and revealing an incredible and often surprising richness in the thoughts and feelings of other creatures. continued . . . . . . . . .
don't miss part two, next Thursday, you will be surprised.