So, the other week I joined an LJ community. People often post questions for debate there – abortion, politics, society etc. So today, I thought I’d post my own question for debate:

What use are pet animals?
I’m not talking about working animals; I mean pet animals that have no practical use at all. Sp why do you keep a pet? What are your feelings on pets?

That was less than four hours ago. So far, close to over a hundred comments have been posted* The huge majority of them along the lines of “Oh, I love my darling XXXXX – he/she/it loves me to bits, is always there when I want a cuddle and gets me out of bed every morning by crapping on my face, the little scamp!” (OK, I made up that last bit; but I can wish, can’t I……) And of course, they’ve posted their pet’s pictures, and told stories about their pets and cooed and gooed over everybody else’s pictures and stories.
Only about eight or nine have been considered, sensible replies of the sort I had been hoping to get, along with some that made me giggle. One of my favourite replies was “Pets are for people who have trouble with social interaction – which pretty much sums up 107.3% of LJ_UK members, hence the overwhelming support for animals in theis thread. If I want a pet, I’d adopt an Austrian child and keep them in my basement”
Tony, I want your babies! But, alas, I think you’re right about LJers, on this evidence. I’m disappointed – I really want to know why people like keeping pet animals. But I’ve ended up feeling like an alien anthropologist puzzling over some strange tribal custom. I just Don’t Get It.

Anyway, I’ll end with something that I replied to a poster with, and which sums up my position:

I like animals. But I also respect them, as fellow creatures. Which means that I don’t do them the indignity of projecting human traits onto them or treating them as substitute humans or comfort toys.

* Just gone 11, and the comment count is up to 113.