Our Pets May Not Be as Happy as We Think

Kenny Torrella at Vox makes the case for a world with fewer, but happier, pets
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 22, 2023 8:02 AM CDT
Our Pets May Not Be as Happy as We Think
   (Getty / Kerkez)

It's easy to denounce the mistreatment of animals at the extremes: physical abuse, dog fighting, etc. But as Kenny Torrella writes at Vox, it gets trickier when even self-described animal lovers do things that fall into the realm of "everyday neglect and cruelty" in regard to their pets. He ticks off examples: "punitive training, prolonged captivity and extreme confinement, mutilations (declawing, ear and tail docking), outdoor tethering, lack of autonomy, verbal abuse, monotonous and unhealthy diets. ..." Plus, the animals often don't get enough socialization or exercise—they're bored to frustration. "We may see ourselves as the best of animal lovers, but we very well could be inflicting suffering on our pets every day." In his provocative piece, Torrella suggests we should aim for a world with fewer—but happier—pets.

"Before the cat dads and dog moms come for me, know this: I am one of you," writes Torrella. He adds that his dog Evvie won't be his last, given the number of dogs in need of homes at animal shelters. But he also argues that too may pet owners think their animals are much happier than they are. "Scientists have set up cameras to see what dogs do when home alone all day, and it turns out there’s a lot of yawning, barking, howling, whining, and sleeping—signs of anxiety and frustration." Torrella talks to ethologist Marc Bekoff, whose views sum up the piece: "He’d like to see puppy and kitten mills phased out amid a major cultural shift wherein people would only get a dog or cat if they have the time, money, patience, and energy to give them a good life," writes Torrella. "The motto would be: fewer pets with better lives." Read the full piece. (This view may be gaining traction.)

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