Animals are Not People

October 21, 2009

Animals are pretty awesome.

That was probably the most obvious, least controversial opening line I’ve ever started with. Don’t get used to it.

Whether you like dogs, cats, guinea pigs, rabbits, fish, turtles, birds, monkeys, tigers or just fur coats, most people love their pets. I don’t know what it is that makes animals so adorable to people. Something about a creature that constantly sheds hair, scratches up furniture and poops in a box so you can pick it up with a little plastic shovel just makes them irresistable.

As a pastor, I’ve had people ask me if I think their pets will meet them in heaven. I tell people that, sure, their pets just might be waiting for them in heaven. What biblical evidence do you have that they won’t be? Zero. Pets bring joy to people on Earth, and only a heartless pastor would burst the pets-in-heaven balloon. It’s like the last Santa Claus adults get to believe in. I think it does no harm.

No doubt, a lot of people are obsessed with their pets. Some of you go to expensive bakeries to buy cookies and other goodies for your dogs, or just to McDonald’s as a reward for a good day. Some of you dress yourselves and your pooch in matching running suits, and then you snuggle in bed like a married couple in love. Gross.

I think people treat animals like little people, because they desperately want animals to be little people.

I’ve got big news for you. Animals are not people, No matter how much you want them to be. They should not eat McDonald’s…Actually, people shouldn’t even eat McDonald’s.

Meet “Winona Ryder,” the guinea pig. Though this cuddly little rascal shares a name with a wealthy celebrity, it lives in a box full of rubbish. It eats barely edible pellets from a box and drinks exclusively from a bottle. It sits in its own garbage with no thought for cleaning up after itself. If left alone, it’s box and itself would become ever more filthy. Does that sound like any human you have ever heard of?

Okay, bad example. But seriously, a bunch of people are trying to lobby to elevate the status of ‘animals’ to ‘people,’ with all the rights and priveliges pertaining thereto (really.) That means they wouldn’t be ‘property.’ I don’t know how people feel about animals in other societies, but in India, cows are sacred, so I guess anything’s possible.

I’ve written before about the whole system of unintended consequences. People have a problem, think up a solution, and it invariably causes another problem. This is exactly that, only I’m a genius, so I can tell you what unintended consequences it would have. It’s a rather common and seemingly innocuous thing to think of your pets as ‘people.’ Trust me, you don’t want your pets to be ‘people.’

Problem: animal lovers think there should be tougher penalties for animal abusers. Seems like a good cause, right? Solution: elevate the sanctity of an animal life to higher than that of an unborn baby human. Result: Michael Vick has to go back to prison, and say he’s really really sorry.

Unintended result: you can no longer afford healthcare for you precious little LoLCat. What killed healthcare in America? Malpractice lawsuits, for one thing. Right now, vets can count on being sued only a handful of times in their career, far less than a medical doctor. Thus, their malpractice insurance is far less, and emasculating Toonces the cat is very cheap. But what if Toonces was a ‘person?’ Suddenly malpractice suits against vets becomes much more lucrative (though no less baseless) and costs skyrocket. Then you have cats crying in heat and spraying everything in sight and doing it right in your yard with no shame because a chop-job just quadrupled in price.

And yes, I found this topic important enough to bring in my very own Church of No People LoLCat, despite my complete distaste for them.

So the next time your little ball of fluff does something to make you say “Aww, he thinks he’s people!” I suggest you smack man’s best friend for making you think he’s a person, and remind him where his place is: at your feet.

So tell us about your non-human pets! Tell us if it’s a yard dog, or if you sleep with your pet. We have a chocolate lab and an Australian shepherd. It was part of our wedding agreement that there would never be a dog in the bed. In fact, the whole bedroom is kept dog free.

14 responses to Animals are Not People

  1. We have a dog-free bedroom too. They're just too big (Boxer and Border Collie). But a cat-free bedroom? That's another story.

    I love my pets, but I never lose sight they are animals, not humans. My vet has lost sight of that though. At the last cat check up, he lectured me because I wouldn't pay $162 per cat for a blood work panel that essentially could predict future diseases. I asked if the "future diseases" could be avoided if we knew they were coming. He said "No, but you could prepare yourself better." "Nope, we're good, thanks though". And then he looked at me like I was pus and left the room.

    I'm sure the Sushi and Cash vet chart now have a reference to their cold and heartless mother, but who knows?

  2. I have allergies.
    I believe there will be animals in Heaven, and that I won't have allergies there..

  3. I've had numerous conversations with my neighbor who's a doctor about this subject, and he paints a interesting picture of the medical field. He also understands that medicine is not an exact science as much as we'd like to believe it is.

    He has never been sued for malpractice but still must pay the same premium a doctor with similar 'assessed risk' does who may have several such claims. The overhead for his practice is so complex on both sides of the income statement that I don't know how he forecast his tax liabilities each year. Is he poor? Far from it. Is he filthy rich? Not by a long shot.

    Just flip through your local Yellow Pages in the A's and note the number of LARGE ads from lawyers that want to represent you if you've suffered from malpractice. Same goes for injuries in car accidents.

    Our society believes
    Unfortunate Accident + Attorney = Big Payout

    Who pays in the end? Not the doctors, lawyers or insurance companies…it's simple trickle down economics that ends with consumers…once again.

    One sad side-note: I actually know someone who had their dog baptized. I'm not sure who is more delusional…the person with the dog or the person who did the baptizing.

  4. This post was timed perfectly, as I have been struggling with the decision I made to put my cat down recently. I think I made the right decision.

    I applaud this post and your view on animals, and laughed when you talked about the joy of scooping poop!

    Yes, a cat lover and owner has to ask himself, "what am I doing this for?"

    My cat was the perfect pet, loved by me and my family. He loved people, caused a minimum of damage to things in the house, and didn't even want to go outside.

    Suddenly he developed a behavior problem and started to use the living room couch as his litter box.

    We struggled with him for a while, got prayer and were praying for him, but time was of the essence – the pressure of wondering what he was going to do got too great.

    I realized that God wanted me to let him go, and it would have to be death for him because no one else should be subjected to his problem.

    But that was OK because he was an animal.

    I miss him terribly, and feel a void without a pet, but look forward to a new one.

    But animals are not people, just as you said.

    That was an important factor in the decision making process. I dread, as you said how much more difficult that situation would have been if things got as weird as they seem to be getting.

    My vet wouldn't agree to put him down because she wanted to first put him on behavior modification drugs! Ridiculous!

    I had to take him to the Humane Society.

  5. About animals being in heaven……

    God placed animals in the garden to be a joy and comfort to man.

    Animals do not "sin" – they belong to God and will return to God.

    What shape and form they will take we don't know, but Revelation describes animals in heaven.

    There are no animals in Hell.

  6. Katherine Laine October 21, 2009 at 5:47 pm

    Know what's great about animals? That God created them for His and our pleasure. Coming home to a swinging tail and a slobbery kiss can make my day. Also, there have been many times that I have learned great lessons from my dog. His unconditional love. His focus on the 'prize'. His love of life.

    My house has 4 adults and 3 dogs. Unfortunately, my mom treats her dog like a person, and the little guy flaunts it in front of the two bigger dogs who could eat him in one bite.

    It would make me sad to be unable to afford serious vet bills to help my dog if something awful happened. But he's still a dog. He's still a gift, and ultimately belongs to the Giver. Even a person who is labeled 'the scum of the earth' is of infinitely MORE worth than my dog.

    Thanks for the reminder Matt.

  7. Wait, you are telling me that Toonces the driving cat is not people? What is wrong with you!? He drives for goodness' sake!

    As for the rest of the heated debate, I care not to enter… :)

  8. Karen, author of "My Funny Dad, Harry" October 21, 2009 at 8:27 pm

    Although our pets are not people, they are a part of our family and very spoiled. Yes, they are allowed to sleep on the bed with us. In fact our cats and doggie all blog at

    I heard of a Sunday School teacher who had what I thought was a very good answer to the question of will we see our pets in heaven. She told him that since the Bible says there won't be any sadness in heaven that if you need your pet in heaven not to be sad, then it will be there.

  9. I've got to agree with your main premise here.

    I've always owned dogs. I love dogs. We currently have a great dog that we got 3 years ago from the pound and he makes our life way more enjoyable. But when it's all said and done, he IS A DOG.

    There was a line in a commercial on TV the other day about "your pets are your children". Much to the dismay of my actual children, I begin to rant about how my pet is NOT my child.

    I'm reminded of a song by Randy Stonehill (a not too widely known Christian singer way before your time) that included the following line:

    "it's OK to murder babies, but you really ought to save the whales"

  10. We have a dog, two guinea pigs, a Russian Tortoise, a fish (the 25 cent variety you win in Fall Harvest Festival games). I suspect that the 25 cent fish must rough up any $5 fish we add to give him "company", leading to an untimely death of the expensive fish. He is currently alone. All animals, except for the dog, which we just adopted, survived an 1800 mile move involving five days in the car/van and four nights in hotel rooms. Driving a vehicle for eight hours with guinea pigs in it is not for those with sensitive noses.

    The animals do not think they are human and I would NEVER consider dressing any animals up. Period. The dog sleeps in our room, but not in our bed. All other animals are scattered in the kid's rooms. Because I have wanted a dog since I was eight years old, I made my husband vow before we were married that he would let me have a dog. We ended up having kids first and they ended up being very time consuming, so I had to wait eleven years before we actually got the dog.

  11. Our new mini schnauzer is allowed to sit with me in my chair towards the end of the evening. That's it…no bed time for him.

    Now, when they told me it would cost $40 to cut his hair—i don't even spend that much money on my hair…

    Stay blessed…john

  12. I just heard the message "23 minutes in hell" and it's as if God wanted to correct me about the 'no animals in hell' idea. The guy said all the icky animals were there – snakes, worms, bats and that sort of animal.

    Wouldn't you know it?

    I have to listen to the message again, but I heard him say that.

  13. Interesting blog. I tend to believe that animals go to heaven especially after reading a book called "Animals in Heaven? Catholics Want to Know!" by author Susi Pittman. It's based upon scripture and offers compelling evidence that animals will be present in heaven.