Why do people feel the need to have pets and is it always good for the animal?

Ever since humans have stepped onto this earth, they have developed a fond relationship with animals in personal, social and economic aspects. In the stone age, men only saw animals as food they could devour to ensure their survival. However, with the evolving time, it was understood that the wild creatures’ purpose is not restrained to the food chain, but they can be of value in other aspects too if tamed properly according to their needs. In ancient times, animals were used to plough fields and pull water from underground. Prior to the invention of wheel, they were the only form of transport. Fast-forwarding to today when animals have become man’s best friend and they are also given a precious place in the hearts and homes of humans.

Modern people value the companionship of their pets instead of fellow humans. Often, they feel alienated in this common world and believe that they don’t belong here. Therefore, they find refuge in the tender love of their pets who, according to them, understand them better than most of their friends. From a sociological perspective, this is not unusual in western homes that consist of nuclear families as compared to eastern world that prefers extended families. Their family trees are quite minimal which leaves them with a few or no relatives at all in their adulthood. Many of them are unable to socialize and make friends due to immense load of work. They are also hesitant of getting married as their secular culture has not fully inculcated the positivity of the concept in their minds. Hence, having pets seem the only viable option of companionship for them.

Spending the last fraction of their lives as spinsters, pets provide affection and support to humans in their old age. They cut out some of the loneliness that they feel due to the absence of a human partner. In cases of mental and physical illness, animals provide a sense of relaxation, stress relief and nostalgia when you play with them. They also assist in physical therapy which plays to the advantage of people who lose their essential ability to walk or move at all in the last bracket of their mortality. Pet owners over age 65 make 30 percent fewer visits to their doctors than those without pets. While they don’t have any corporate or domestic assignments to do, they engage themselves in catering to the needs of their pets. They take their pets out on morning walks to add a bit of joy in their monotonous lives.

While having a pet fills human life with good spirits, we cannot say the same for the animals. Thinking solely of our own happiness, we fail to acknowledge the fact that by putting animals on market for sale, we are depriving them of their natural habitat. It also causes separation from their kindred species. Technology has not yet reached the point where it can fully translate animal language, hence we are oblivious to the pain they feel when they are divorced from their homes. Stressful events can even leave marks on animals' genes. In 2014, researchers found that African grey parrots that were housed alone suffered more genetic damage than parrots that were housed in pairs.