Many Kingstonians enjoy the love and companionship of pets. Before Hurricane Florence hit, local animal shelters began asking residents for assistance in providing shelter for the pets in their care. A viral photos shows the long line of people willing to help at animal rescue center, Saving Grace, where 124 dogs were successfully rescued. There are lots of definitions in the scholarly literature. I like the anthrozoologist James Serpell’s definition. He says a pet is an animal that we live with that has no obvious function.
Allen K, Shykoff BE, Izzo JL Jr. (2001). Pet ownership, but not ace inhibitor therapy, blunts home blood pressure responses to mental stress. Hypertension. Oct;38(4):815-20. Snub-nosed dogs and cats, such as pugs, bulldogs, boxers, Shih Tzus and Persian or Burmese cats, are permitted for transport by freight on flights provided by Air France. It is only ethical to keep an animal as a pet if both the animal’s biological and psychological needs are properly catered for.
You are right. There are scads of examples of long-term attachments between animals of different species. The problem is that virtually all these cases have occurred among captive or semi-captive animals in zoos, wildlife sanctuaries, or research labs. I recently scoured academic journals and consulted a host of animal behaviorists for examples of pet-keeping in other species in the wild. I found none. True, there are a few articles in primatology journals which describe instances in which wild chimpanzees “played” with small animals like hyraxes. But in each case, the relationship soon went south when the chimps killed their new pals and proceeded to toss their corpses around like rag dolls.
Cougars, lions, tigers , and leopards make up the majority of large cats kept as pets. They are strong and dangerous, to say the least. If you think you can just de-claw a lion like you did your little house cat then think again. De-clawing removes the entire last bone in each toe. If you remove the tips of the toes of a large cat, they are unable to properly walk because of their size and become paralyzed when the procedure is done incorrectly.
You may want to consider adopting an older animal, however, rather than a puppy or kitten or a rambunctious “teenage” pet. Older pets are move likely to be calm, already housetrained, and less susceptible to unpredictable behavior. Older animals are often more easily physically managed by elderly persons than stronger, excitable younger animals; yet older pets still confer the same medical and emotional benefits on their owners as younger animals do. Animal shelter staff can help potential adopters find the most suitable animal for their lifestyle, ensuring a great match between pet and person.