“Our perfect companions never have fewer than four feet.” ~Colette
History and Impact of Animal Domestication
The domestication of animals has been going on for a very, very long time. From archeological and other evidence, it is widely believed that the first attempts at domestication of both animals and plants were made by tribes as early as 9000 BC. In what is known as the Upper Paleolithic Era (between 40,000 and 10,000 years ago), the dog became the first animal to be domesticated, followed shortly thereafter by other animals such as the cow, sheep, pig and cow as the trade of farming became more and more prevalent.
Since their domestication, animals have been used in therapy, as guides for the blind, etc. and have become an exceedingly important part of our culture. As can be seen from the following statistics, many U.S. households have been impacted by owning pets. Research and experience have shown that pet ownership can
Aid in both physical and psychological healing
Help children to develop more empathy
Improve self-esteem, particularly in young children and youth
Provide a source of entertainment and/or socialization
Facts about Pet Ownership in the United States:
According to recent (2010) statistics from the American Veterinary Medical Association, about 63 percent of all U.S. households have a pet.
The above statistic includes about 75 million dogs and about 85 million cats.
The average cost of basic food, supplies, medical care and training for a dog or cat is $700 to $875 annually.
Domesticated cats and dogs generally live longer, healthier lives than strays.
Five out of ten dogs in shelters and seven out of ten cats in shelters are destroyed simply because there is no one to adopt them.
Unfortunately, like anything else pets can and have been abused by their owners as well. According to the Humane Society, animal cruelty comes from either the deliberate abuse of animals or simply through the failure to take care of the animal. Studies have also shown that people who abuse their animals are more likely to be violent towards other people.
Questions for Reflection and Discussion
Does any of the above statistics and/or information presented surprise you? Why or why not?
Do you own a pet? If so, how has it benefited you and your family?
Some would argue that animals survived just fine on their own before people arrived. Do you think that animals are ultimately better off domesticated than left in the wild?
When treated properly, animals can have an immensely positive impact on our culture. Yet history has shown that the abuse of animals due to apathy and/or emotional issues can be and usually is a reflection of how pet owners treat the people around them.
Thus as pets and pet ownership continues to become an important part of our society we must continue to take into account both the positive and negative effects of such ownership on the wider culture, and work towards providing happy and safe environments in which both pets and owners can thrive.