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LETTER: Pet鈥檚 roles still defined by human self-interest

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(Black Press Media file photo)

The recent editorial about pets鈥 role in our lives incorrectly associates changes in 91茄子鈥檚 family law with how our relationship with pets has supposedly evolved over the last century. However, who a pet should go to during a separation is very low on the list of needs for pets and does nothing to shift their status as property.

Sadly, our anthropomorphizing of pets has commodified and objectified them more than ever. There are now over 16 million pets in Canada, a symptom of a broken system, not a success.

While the author points out that dogs and cats used to have a more utilitarian function in society, it would be a mistake to claim this has changed except for the context of their use. As we have transitioned to more urban communities and they have lost their independence, pets鈥 functions have been expanded more to providing companionship.

One need not look further than the large uptake of pets during the pandemic. People craved attention and emotional engagement to cope with isolation, so adopted or bought, sadly, more cats and dogs. Once the pandemic ended, there was a mass dumping of these so-called, 鈥減andemic pets.鈥 Their purpose served, disposed.

It would also be an error to correlate our change in perception of pets as 鈥渇amily members,鈥 with what the author claims are 鈥溾ore strictly enforced鈥 animal cruelty laws. In 91茄子, the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act is enforced by a charity that runs on public donations, the BC SPCA. You cannot do an FOI request on their enforcement activities and there is effectively no public oversight of their operations. If anything, this is where reform is needed.

There are a great number of genuinely selfless organizations and people (mostly women) trying to mitigate the worst of our disposable relationship with pets, but without proper government or social support, it is a Sisyphean task.

Contrary to the author鈥檚 suggestion, what we need our legal system to recognize is not how important pets are to people, but that they have intrinsic value without us.

Jordan Reichert

Saanich