The pet-human relationship can be a complicated one. While humans in general have enjoyed the company of animals for many centuries, some animal rights supporters have insisted that the domestication of animals an inhumane act that goes against animal rights.
According to animal rights supporters, domesticated animals depend on us – the human-owners – for everything that is important to their lives and survival: when, what and whether they eat or drink, when and where they sleep or what they sleep on, when or where do they relieve themselves, whether they get any affection or exercise, etc. These animals exist in extreme vulnerability, relying on us for everything that is of relevance to them, including their risk of harm from environments that they do not really understand nor have a choice to be in.
The act of domestication modifies the relationship between humans and animals into an entirely different and unique one. Humans have bred them to be compliant and servile over the many thousands of years, or to have characteristics that are harmful to them but pleasing to us. While when people bring home their new pets thereby indicating a commitment to make the animals happy, the relationship can never be “natural” because people have deliberately domesticated them to suit the needs of humans. Animal rights supporters argued that they do not belong in the human world regardless of how well humans have been and are treating them.
How about animal adoption? When people adopt (or buy) companion animals, they choose which specific dog or cat etc. they want, not the other way round. When people instil learnings (such as potty trainings) and tricks (such as “Sit!”) in their companion animals, it was a choice of what humans want them to do, not the other way round. How about when people abandon their pets after deciding that they no longer look cute, leaving them to fend for themselves until a kind soul comes by and pick them up? Again, these animals have no say in their own abandonment.
In fact, domestication has generated an overpopulation crisis of companion animals, leaving countless of unwanted, ‘extra’ animals destroyed or abandoned every year. Compounding this argument is the fact that with domestication and therefore learning that humans are the main source of food, shelter and love, companion animals have zero to little survival skills to help cope after being abandoned.
Although anyone can argue the same thing about human children, majority of the human children will eventually grow up and mature into autonomous and independent beings capable of looking after themselves in the world.
The logic of this animal rights in domestication argument as enforced by animal rights advocates is simple. They argued that people have bred these animals to be dependent on humans for survival, treating them as humans’ property and resources to which we use for personal purposes. Just like how we have no justification for treating other humans as slaves, humans have no justification for treating animals as personal property either. There is nothing “natural” about domesticated animals; they are creatures created by humans through selective breeding and confinement.