It is something you say. Everybody says it. “Pets are part of the family!” is a mantra of the media, the pet industry, and even the academic veterinary literature.
When pet owners have been asked to draw a diagram of their family with themselves in the centre, all too often the pet has been placed closer to themselves/nearer the center than were other family members. When asked which one person they would bring to a desert island, a surprising number of people say “my dog” or “my cat” rather than “my husband” or “my wife.” I hear it most days and I believe it. If we have a choice, we choose our cuddly, doe-eyed fur-baby!
However, other studies show the relationship with one’s pet to be tenuous. The relationship becomes strained by what the human perceives as “behavioural problems” in the animal, or maybe there are changes in the human’s situation (divorce, illness, loss of job, new baby) which then make the animal’s presence inconvenient. And the animal is then ejected from the family system and demoted to “just a dog/cat.”
And we know that our rescue centres are over-run with unwanted, abandoned, miss-treated pets. So, how could a nation in which pets are family generate this? Two reasons: being part of a family doesn’t mean you are well-treated or immune to abuse. Second, contrary to the media, many, many people don’t consider their animals as family. Hard to believe, right?
At a vet’s practice, we are spoilt with the nicest clients who would move heaven and earth for their pets. Seeing how loved they are makes our jobs worthwhile and fills us with happiness. We are in a fantastic club with you all and long may it continue! We have so many wonderful owners that if we are ever re-incarnated as a pet, we know straight where we are heading!
We should all be working to create conditions in which animals really, truly have this special place in our hearts.
This is Aimee one of our vets with her fur baby family….. Who else tries to get all the dogs in their selfies!
If you would like any specific topics to be discussed or want to learn more please drop us an email for the attention of Aimee at firstname.lastname@example.org.