For me to present my argument, we must find common ground on one belief - the belief that animals were meant to live in nature, free of dependence on humans. As a society, we're starting to take the stance that doing harm to our planet and nature is a bad thing. I'm not talking about for the reason of sustainability either - our society is moving towards the idea that plundering nature beyond our necessity has negative moral connotations behind it (remember Avatar?). So despite our past dependence on one-another for survival (e.g. hunter+hunting dog), which is natural in nature and was mutually beneficial for both species, there is nothing to suggest that there's a good reason for humans to keep pets. They provide amusement and a sense of companionship. But is that companionship something substantial and real? Or is it actually a bit fake and a little sickening?
People really like cats, and they really like dogs. So if people like cats and dogs so much, why do they give them names and keep them in confined spaces for the majority of their lives and beat or punish them when they behave in a way that's natural to them?
The first argument I hear from all pet owners can mostly be deduced to the same thing : "I saved my pet from a bad situation". Interesting enough - pet owners fail to acknowledge that the bad situation they saved the pet from was created from the status quo of pet ownership in the first place.
The second argument I hear is : "Well, we all eat meat anyways - it doesn't make a difference - it's not like I'm killing and eating my pet. Besides, my pet shows me affection and loves me." They act as if these animals have the freedom of choice. They don't. Meat eaters aren't disillusioned about what they do - I wouldn't kill a cow and pretend that I'm doing these cows a favor. I eat various types of meat and fish because I can and ultimately it's an effective staple of the diet. Do I need to eat meat? No. But based upon my experience - all vegetarians I've personally known for lengthier periods of time all have developed health issues that aren't common in non-vegetarians. The majority of pet owners I've met, on the other hand, act as if they own a pet because they're saving a life and doing a favor to another life form. Here's another way to look at it - pet owners enslave animals for their own amusement, purely because they can. Yet pet owners like to believe they have a "real bond" with their helpless pets.
Animals are domesticated through nurture upon birth and have no natural desire to be around you or me. For them to act naturally would cause them to get beaten and put away. I love eating cows, pigs, fish, etc. despite this, I like animals. I'm glad they exist - I just wish the ones that weren't designated to be eaten could at least experience a life that is natural to them.
A zoo at least attempts to provide animals with a recreation of their natural habitat. Cats and dogs get no such luck - most are left at home and sit in a box while their owners go to work and live their lives. Then many owners come home and beat them because they didn't pee in their designated spot. I'm inclined to believe that pet ownership is a very hypocritical thing and I don't ever think I would own a pet personally. Honestly, if I was enslaved by an Alien and they gave me the option to sacrifice myself for to provide their nourishment or the option to be their pet for the rest of my life, I'd probably take the least boring and less humiliating approach to the situation.
Do you think that there will be a point where animal life is valued beyond being mere food? Once we reach that point, do you think opinions on owning pets would sway?