Pets Sitting On High?

Sarah Murphy

Many people seem to be spending more and more on their cats and dogs.  High quality animal food (i.e. actually edible) can now be found in ordinary super markets, “gourmet” treats abound with some classified as USDA-certified organic, cat grass can be purchased alongside heirloom tomatoes at the Farmer’s Market and pet beds come swathed in faux-leopard print material complete with removable heaters.  Some people can even be seen venturing outside with their pets in strollers.  Using pet strollers seems to make a lot of sense for old or infirm animals who would otherwise have difficulty getting out and about, but beyond this, is such a practice ridiculous and ultimately detrimental to achieving greater respect and rights for animals?

Pets, usually cats and dogs, are often touted as valued members of families, and I think many people would cringe to think of their beloved animals as property per se.  At the same time though, when push comes to shove, previously pampered house pets end up on the street, like discarded toys, all too often for a variety of reasons, including the birth of a baby or the result of a move.  Chauffeuring an animal in a pet stroller seems to blur the line between treating pets like children and property.  Is the stroller meant to enhance the human’s life or the pet’s?  It seems like parading an animal around in a pet stroller could be viewed as reinforcing the animal property paradigm by showcasing the dog or cat to the public as a display of the human owner’s property holdings, which only reinforces the established human-animal hierarchy in society.  Does such behavior also alienate those who might otherwise agree that many animals are treated poorly because use of pet strollers seems like a bourgeois luxury?

Or perhaps it is our pets that are having the last laugh, having discovered with pet strollers a way in which humans think they are asserting their superiority over animals, when really, the humans are doing the animal’s bidding.

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