Is it ethical to keep pets?

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I class myself as an animal lover.  I would love to have a pet dog one day, but not until I have enough free time to take care of it properly.  I’m not a fan of leaving dogs cooped up at home all day.

In the mean time, I have a pet hamster and two budgies.  I have had many hamsters in the past and I think they are adorable pets.  I never felt much guilt over them, I feel they have had pretty good lives and have been happy.  They are living an all-inclusive-holiday rather than prison.  I’ll admit that maybe this isn’t accurate.  I don’t know if my hamster would choose to stay with me if she had the option of exploring the wide world.

My budgies, on the other hand, are the first birds I have kept.  And I’m sad to say I do feel guilty about having them cooped up in a cage most of the time.  This is definitely a prison rather than an all-inclusive-holiday.  In the wild, they would roam so far and wide.  I’m sure they would choose the wide world over me.

Then I found myself in a pickle… I can’t release them as they probably wouldn’t survive for long in the wild.  They don’t know what they can eat or where to nest or how to avoid cats… and they would probably die of the cold.  It wouldn’t be fair to set them free.  That’s like setting humans free on a paradise island and saying ‘go, be free!’ but the reality is there’s a lot of hassle when it comes to finding food and shelter.  (I know this from watching ‘Lost’)

So I have decided that I will not get birds again in the future, but I will try to give my budgies and hamster a fulfilling life.

Cats and dogs are a different kettle of fish, but this is an interesting point to ponder, further explained in this article by the Guardian:

https://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2017/aug/01/should-we-stop-keeping-pets-why-more-and-more-ethicists-say-yes?utm_source=esp&utm_medium=Email&utm_campaign=GU+Today+main+NEW+H+categories&utm_term=237572&subid=10292850&CMP=EMCNEWEML6619I2

 

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I already have the book ‘Some we love, some we hate, some we eat: Why it’s so hard to think about animals’ by Hal Herzog who explores how humans treat different animals in such different ways.  I am yet to read it (it’s on the pile) but I think it is an interesting question.  Why do we love cats and dogs but hate rats and eat chickens and pigs?  Why do we not treat them all the same?

I think it’s so easy to forget that humans are animals too, but we barely see ourselves as all of the other animals around us.  And we forget that we control the lives of animals in ways that we would never treat our fellow human beings.

For now, I still think pets are awesome, as long as it’s a mutually beneficial relationship on some level and both parties are (relatively) happy.

 

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