Stop Calling Them Pets: It’s ‘Derogatory’

Editors of a new journal say the words we use impact animal treatment
By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 28, 2011 11:02 AM CDT
Updated May 1, 2011 11:11 AM CDT
These are not your pets, they are your companion animals.   (AP Photo/Chris Jackson, pool)
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(Newser) – If you currently have a dog, cat, hamster, or bird living in your house, you should stop calling it your "pet" and instead refer to it as a "companion animal," academics recently suggested. As for yourself, you may legally be the animal's owner, but you should refer to yourself as its "human carer" instead. The old terms of "pet" and "owner" are "derogatory" and can affect the way animals are treated, according to the editors of the Journal of Animal Ethics.

The journal is a new academic publication devoted to animal ethics, the Telegraph notes. Its editors, including an Oxford professor, also have a problem with the terms "wildlife" and "wild animals." Rather, we should use "free-living," "free-ranging," or "free-roaming," because the idea of "wildness" is "synonymous with uncivilized, unrestrained, barbarous existence." Not surprisingly, the editors also want to do away with terms like "critter" or "beast," as well as idioms like "sly as a fox," "eat like a pig," and "drunk as a skunk." (And speaking of skunks...)

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