People who don’t have animals never fully understand the inexpressable joy of having them jump onto your bed with poop stuck to the fur of their butt, or their adorable hack-hack-hack sounds as they throw up remnants from the garbage can that is now overturned in your kitchen, or the need to Google things like “dog swallowed rubber ball” or “do cats get jealous?” Sure, pets have their faults, but they’re still part of the family and Lord forgive the petless simpleton who tries to argue otherwise.

Animals have certainly come a long way from the ancient days of Michael Vick. They now have their own parks, their own sections (and menus) at many restaurants and even their own rights, like the right to defecate without shame on a public sidewalk at Lake Eola because they ASSUME their owner will pick up after them (anyone who’s taken a stroll around the lake knows this isn’t always the case). But while we’ve made impressive progress in the field of animal acceptance an article in The Journal Of Animal Ethics says we still have a LONG way to go, and it starts with the derogatory label we give our family cats and dogs: “pets.” Apparently, it’s insulting.

According to the article, the term pets, “whilst technically correct in law, harks back to a previous age when animals were regarded as just that: property, machines or things to use without moral constraint.” While I think the use of the word “whilst” is just obnoxious, I found the article interesting in that it encourages owners to call their dogs and cats “companion animals” instead.

“We shall not be able to think clearly unless we discipline ourselves to use less than partial adjectives in our exploration of animals and our moral relations with them,” the journal argued.

If you don’t think too hard about it it kinda makes sense. Most pet owners – excuse me, human companions – consider their dog or cat their best friend anyway and treat them better than they do most homosapiens. How many human friends do you have who wet themselves with excitement whenever a guest arrives? How many of your friends lick your face in an excessive show of affection? Or soil your bed to show how much they missed you while you were gone? Let’s be honest, our dogs and cats love us more than anyone so the least we can do is stop degrading them with the pompous label of “pet.” They’re companions. Small, furry companions who walk on all fours without pants and inappropriately lick themselves.

The article also points out that the term “wild animal” is offensive to animals who live in the wild.