Of What Value is the Human-Animal Bond?

mylovesWhat a dumb question, right?

Of course there is true, concrete value in loving a pet. Scientific studies show that pets reduce stress and result in better cardiovascular and mental health for their owners. Pet owners are more likely to be physically active if they have a dog. Plus, oxytocin release (the love hormone) through a good hug or rub just makes you feel better.

So the emotional and health value of pets is unquestioned.  What about the monetary value?


In this country, pets are legally considered property.  They do not have rights.  So if your pet is harmed or killed due to the negligence of others, and you decided to sue, you would only be entitled to the cost of purchase.  At face value this seems crazy.  Your pet is worth more than $150 isn’t it? I couldn’t even put a price on what  Bubba and Gunner meant to me.

Veterinarians are stuck between and rock and a hard place on this one.  We want to elevate the human-animal bond and make animals more important in society.  We advocate for animal well-being and medical care.  But by improving the status of pets in this country we might be changing the definition of what a pet-owner relationship is.  If we elevate a cat’s status in the US are we obligated to imbue it with its own rights?  If we see it as a sentient being, capable of feeling emotions like fear, pain, or joy shouldn’t it be worth more than the cost of a tune up?

If animals have rights, then we better have laws to protect them. Since this is America we sure should have the right to sue if they are harmed. 

Here’s the rub, making animals more valuable in society makes them less affordable to society in general.  Like kids, you might then be prosecuted if you ignore their medical needs.  Someone could be given authority to decide if you are suitable or not for pet ownership. 

 If people can’t afford pets, they won’t have them. More will end up in shelters, more will be euthanized, fewer will get veterinary care (especially preventative care), more will suffer. 

We’ll suffer too, having a pet teaches you daily about love and compassion, they make us more human, more humane. Is there a legitimate way to argue for more responsibility for our pets without changing their rights?  Is there a way to improve their quality of life while preserving ours? What do you think?

More later………………………………………………


3 comments on “Of What Value is the Human-Animal Bond?

  1. Love the picture and as always enjoyed what you had to say!!

  2. Our pets are family members in every sense of the word. Just as children must be taken care of and are more than mere property, the laws that insure children get what they need and protect their rights must now be applied to our pets. Since most pet guardians refer to their dog/cat as their child, so to, the laws need to recognize this and extend to our pets. Just because our pets walk on four legs and speak a different language doesn’t make them any less “human”. And what parent wouldn’t be delighted with a child that never talks back?????

  3. You’re clearly addressing a specific sector of society in this statement; Those who love their pets. The value of “parenting” a pet is in the mutual love and affection, not to mention the joy that comes along with them just simply being there near you. I’m astounded by the negligence of pet owners almost daily! What few laws there are in place for animals are seldom enforced; I could give you countless for instances. If we want to give the animals the “status” they deserve, I think the most we can do is to take action on behalf of the animal by confronting the human who is behaving so irresponsibly. We are humane, or we are not. Those who aren’t shouldn’t be able to have pets, but sadly, I dont think we will ever fix this entirely. It’s not about money, I would guess a high percentage of people who “can’t afford” their animals all the time find ways to take care of them properly, or atleast to the very best of their ability. Animals wind up in shelters for a multitude of reasons, but i imagine monetary issues dont top the list. Too many problems, too few solutions. Atleast you can say you did your part and some of us are trying to educate those who aren’t.

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