Dominionist, Humanist, or Protectionist?

Which type of pet owners are you? According to Indiana University sociologist David Blouin, pet owners fall into one of the three above categories. A dominionist views animals “as an appendage to the family, a useful helper ranking below humans that is beloved but, ultimately, replaceable.” My paternal grandmother was this sort. For her, animals were animals and she wasn’t overly sentimental about them. She kept a cat to keep her house rodent-free, not because she liked their company. When a pet outlived its usefulness it was put down. No tears.

My maternal grandmother, however, fit firmly in the next category. A humanist treats his or her pet as a child, pampering the animal and even allowing it into the family bed. Sound familiar to readers of this blog? Guilty as charged.

A protectionist is an animal advocate, doing what he or she sees as best for the animal. Protectionists often have strong views about how animals should be treated. A member of PETA would be an example of a protectionist.

According to a New York Times article on the subject, problems can arise when families are made up of members with different ideologies. My grandmother’s matter-of-fact view about animals was distressing to me at times, especially when I once visited her to walk the dog and found her missing. She was my father’s dog and not long after he died, my grandmother had her put down. A perfectly healthy dog. However, I’m not perfect. I lean too far the other way. When it was time for my last three cats to go on their final journey, I waited too long, unable to do what was best for them. So I’m a humanist striving to be a protectionist. What are you?

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2 Comments

Filed under Pugs in the news

2 responses to “Dominionist, Humanist, or Protectionist?

  1. Joan

    I read the article and I think I’m a little bit of all of them. Primarily, I see a pet as a pal, a companion, but I think that’s very different from seeing it as a child. I do think pets ultimately rank below humans, yet at the same time I think they should be accorded respect. And if, as the article says, your feelings about pets are a product of your experience with your first one, then mine comes from the imaginary collie I had as a child, a dog closely modeled on the collies in the books by Albert Payson Terhune. Noble beasts, one and all.

  2. I’m not buying the distinctions. I can be all three at different times and in different contexts. We have relationships with animals as we have relationships with other humans. Those relationships can vary by animal, time in life, circumstances, etc. Personally I think there are two kinds of people in the world: those who categorize and those who don’t. I’m firmly in the latter.

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