My Pet World: Life in the pets lane

March 06, 2012|By Steve Dale
  • Chyllon

I look forward to reader comments, questions and concerns. Here's a selection I received recently:

DEAR STEVE: I'd never read your column until recently, because I don't have any pets. I wish to point out an opposite view on household pets. Whether dogs or cats, pets are not members of anyone's family. They're not human. You and so many people today seem to forget these two simple things. While I don't dislike animals and had both dogs and cats earlier in my life, I don't care to be around anybody's animals these days, especially in my house.

Dogs, no matter how well-behaved, disrupt a household. How many elderly people trip over their pets every year? Pets leave a smell in the house even if they're well bathed. And good luck on there being no toileting accidents. I don't mean to blame pets, but this whole situation is a classic case of the world "going to the dogs." — C.C., Anderson, S.C.


COMMENT: I'm glad you discovered my column, but I must add to your store of facts. First, you're correct that pets are not human, and to treat pets as people is a disservice to both animals and people.

Having said that, according to studies, around 90% of owners consider their pets members of the family. Many people spend more time with their pet(s) than a spouse. Seniors sometimes depend on a pet as their primary companion.

You're also correct that human companionship is different than living with a pet. But study after study has also confirmed that pets are healthful for people. I would suggest (without having real data, I'm just guessing) that more seniors have accidents in the bathtub or shower, or even getting out of bed, than the number who take a tumble over a pet.

We have two dogs, a cat and a lizard in our home, but unless you either have severe allergies or you're part Beagle, I'd challenge you to detect any offensive animal odors in the house.

Of course, an old or sick animal might have a toileting accident, but so what? If things like that bother you, you shouldn't have a pet. I'm not suggesting everyone should have a pet; this is an individual choice. However, the majority of Americans now have at least one pet. In fact, today there are more pets than children in the U.S.

DEAR STEVE: My name is Evin, and I'm in 7th grade. I'm doing a research project on pit bulls. I have a 9-month-old pit bull named Ollie and an American bulldog named Ruby.

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