Cooing and cuddling my pet cat gives me immense pleasure. He is 'my precious' and I don't suppose there is anybody in this world I love as much as my 'Peppers'. I have been an animal lover all my life and have had the opportunity to be friends with different animals at different junctions of my life. I call them friends as I have not kept them as pets in the literal sense. They used to come and go as they please, just as normal 'human' friends do. Helping injured stray animals and feeding hungry birds has become a routine for me. Walking past a pet shop one day, I saw some exotic animals like cockatiel parrots, turtles, and similar animals for sale. This made me wonder if we have the right to keep animals as pets. A pet owner myself, I began to introspect. This prompted me to write some of my views about the pet trade and the right for animals to remain free. In the following paragraphs, I shall cover some of my personal views regarding keeping animals as pets. These are solely my views and you may or may not agree with most of the points I put forth. However, if you agree or disagree with any of them, please do mention it in the comments box at the end of the page.
Why Do People Keep Animals as Pets?
An important question to answer before we ponder on our rights to keep animals as pets. People keep animals as pets for companionship. Yes, we do make friends and have a family as well as acquaintances to keep us company. But bringing home a pet animal gives us a different feeling altogether. Animals give us pure solace and support. After a tiring day at work, it is always a pleasure to be greeted with a slobbery tongue or soft purrs. You can share their deepest thoughts and disappointments with their pets without having to fear your secrets will ever be revealed. Talking to our pets helps unload the burden we carry on our chests. Playing with them helps bring a smile to our faces and gives us our much-needed quota of daily exercise. People who live a lonely existence, the elderly, sick, shy, and the reserved, may find that a pet takes away their loneliness. Taking care of a pet helps inculcate the feelings of responsibility towards another life. Thus, making us proud of ourselves and imbibing the feeling of love in our heart. Animals require care, support, and love. In return, they are staunchly loyal and faithful towards us. In most cases, it is a give and take relationship, where humans offer protection to a vulnerable animal, and the animal gives back love and company.
Should Wild Animals Be Kept as Pets?
Wild animals look extremely cute as babies. But, once they grow-up, they become powerful and ferocious. They may not harm you as they have known you all their lives. But, one cannot guarantee they may not harm others who they perceive as threat or a tasty snack! It is wrong to keep wild and exotic animals as pets. They are not programmed or born to serve you as a pet. Wild animals need appropriate care and expertise in handling them. Most of these poor souls end up living in cramped cages or aquariums. They continue to circle endlessly trying to contain their free-will. This makes them even more wild and ferocious. Before you realize, your little cuddly pet grows up to be larger, stronger and more dangerous than you would have ever imagined. How much ever care you give the animal, you can never domesticate it. This notion will be explained further in the following paragraphs.
Bringing home wolves as pets is a wrong idea. They physically look similar to our very own Alsatians, but are in no way similar in terms of temperament and behavior. Keeping a huge boa constrictor or python is also not a wise idea. You may argue that you're giving it ample of food, keeping it at an optimum temperature and humidity, and helping it live a lavish life that it cannot afford in the wild. But, do you know that the population of these exotic creatures is dwindling in the wild? Most of them are brought into pet shops illegally. Many are kept in inhumane conditions or forced to breed in captivity to fulfill your cravings of owning a dangerous or exotic pet. Many die during this torturous journey.
If you think it's cool to own a leopard or a similar wild cat as a pet, you are wrong. This beautiful animal of the wild will be ultimately kept in a cage. You can't take it along for your shopping trips or picnics. They are basically wild and may harm you or someone else. It is their nature; it is in their blood. And the final judgment passed will label the animal as too dangerous to keep around humans or be called a man-eater. It will either be put to sleep or released in the wild. If released in the wild, it may not have learned survival tricks of the jungle as it was always under human care. This may ultimately lead to its untimely death. Many people who bring home snakes, turtles, iguanas, lizards and other such out of the ordinary animals as pets forget one thing - these animals require a lot of care and attention. Their food requirements are different from the requirements of a cat or dog. They need special living conditions and this may lead to increase in financial costs of keeping a pet. Some do not consider the future, wherein they may have children of their own. This is when it becomes difficult to manage a pet and a child together. The result- abandon the animal on the highway or nearby wilderness.
When it comes to keeping birds, I am strictly against holding a bird in a cage. Look at the bird people! It has wings. These wings are not for show, but to soar high in the sky. They are born to fly, not be held in a cage. They are free birds who know no boundaries. People clip the wings off these creatures of the sky and allow them to walk or hop around the house. Reality check- this is not freedom! There are many varieties of parrots and similar exotic birds kept as pets. Do not hold them in cages or cut off their wings. Won't you feel happy to see a free bird chirp on your window sill, instead of a caged bird singing sad songs of freedom? If you still want to have a bird as your pet, think of doves and pigeons. Train them to come back to you in the evening and fly free to their heart's content during the day. This way you provide them with living space in today's concrete jungle and allow them to live their free natural life.
Is it Wrong to Keep Domesticated Animals as Pets?
As far as my views go, I do not think it is wrong to keep animals as pets. However, these views are limited to domesticated animals such as cats and dogs. If you have a farm, there is nothing wrong in keeping farm animals such as cows, goats, etc. as pets. They not only provide you with revenue, but also help keep you company. I find many people argue against keeping dogs and cats as pets. I agree with them to a certain extent. Breeding cats and dogs to earn money is wrong. Many have a fetish of owning only purebred dogs and cats. Some go to the extent of bringing home pets that are termed as aristocratic breeds whose lineage boasts of fathers or mothers who had supposedly won some kind of animal championship. Cats and dogs have lived in and around human company since centuries. This has made them dependent on human companionship to some extent. They have adapted themselves to being around their human counterparts.
Adopting a cat or dog as a pet does no harm as long as you remain true to your responsibility of owning a pet. When it comes to freedom for these animals, they are mostly allowed to live in an unrestricted environment. Their freedom is not compromised and they live a happy, healthy life. If you wish to adopt a pet dog or cat, look around. There are many strays who are in desperate need of a home that will provide them with food and protection. You can even drop into an animal rescue shelter or dog pound. You will find many abandoned animals that are well-trained and in need of a warm house. Make sure you neuter or spay your pet to prevent overpopulation of pets. Unwanted pups and kittens often end up on the streets and either become roadkill or are attacked by other strays. Those who survive may have to live a long, treacherous life on the streets.
As you can see, our right to keep animals is debatable. There are animals that require our care and shelter. And there are some who would rather be living in the wild, than the four walls of our warm houses. Owning chimpanzees, monkeys, bears (yes, people do bring home young grizzlies without thinking of its repercussions in the future), eagles, cockatoos, etc. is not the best thing to do. Do you think it is morally correct to imprison an animal in your house full of luxuries, when it only wants to live a life of freedom in the wild? I do not think it is wrong to keep animals as pets, however, we need to keep in mind the scenarios wherein it is not only morally and ethically wrong, but legally wrong to bring home an animal as a pet. You may not agree with everything I have to say. Some may argue that they already own an exotic animal or bird as pet and think it is living a happy life. True, but won't you prefer it lives in its own natural environment rather than the small living space provided by you?
Before bringing home a pet, consider if it is ethically and legally right to bring home that particular species. Also, make sure you are ready for a life-long commitment. Veterinary care as well as provision of nutritious food should be taken care of. There are always two sides to a coin. On a personal note, it is always relaxing to pick my cat up in my arms and give it the biggest hug I can muster. A dog wagging its tail the minute it sets it eyes on me, is one of the happiest moments of my life. We are the best judges of our own actions. If you feel your actions will not cause harm to another being's life, think about getting home a pet. Never abuse a pet or treat it badly. Treat every creature the way you want others to treat you, that is with respect and sensitivity.