Referring to Animals

Animal Ethics

Mark Spahn, a longtime reader of my AnalPhilosopher blog, thinks it’s question-begging to use “who” (instead of “that”) to refer to animals. I don’t know of a neutral way to refer to animals: one that doesn’t make an assumption about moral status. If both usages are question-begging, and if there’s no neutral reference, what’s wrong with choosing the usage that accords with one’s view of the moral status of animals?

2006 40

Romain Rolland on Animal Suffering

Creature Talk

If any man were to refer to it, he would be thought ridiculous. To a man whose mind is free there is something even more intolerable in the sufferings of animals than in the sufferings of man. For with the latter it is at least admitted that suffering is evil and that the man who causes it is a criminal. But thousands of animals are uselessly butchered every day without a shadow of remorse. And that is the unpardonable crime. Romain Rolland, Nobel Prize 1915.

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Hal Herzog's "Some We Love, Some We Hate, Some We Eat"

Animal Person

Herzog, unsurprisingly, uses “it” to refer to animals, eats and wears them, and “[does] not feel particularly guilty about it” (P.S., Hal Herzog’s “ Some We Love, Some We Hate, Some We Eat ” (Harper 2011), though fascinating, is ultimately depressing for vegans and animal rights activists.

2011 224

On "EATING ANIMALS" by Jonathan Safran Foer

Animal Person

He always refers to himself and his wife and his child as "vegetarian." This is not a book about animal rights, and some might say Foer gets animal rights wrong as his only reference is PETA. In all fairness, most people's only reference is PETA.

2009 230

I’m Vegan, and No, I’m Not a Freak

Creature Talk

If any man were to refer to it, he would be thought ridiculous. The Romain Rolland quote I posted last week has been on my mind a lot lately: To a man whose mind is free there is something even more intolerable in the sufferings of animals than in the sufferings of man. For with the latter it is at least admitted that suffering is evil and that the man who causes it is a criminal. But thousands of animals are uselessly butchered every day without a shadow of remorse.

Vegan 40

On "Pets" and "Its"

Animal Person

Here 's the book, and in the preview you can see that in the beginning when the gorilla being described is male he is referred to as "he." But what you don't see in the preview is that later on gorillas are referred to as "its," and when I was reading aloud and came upon that word I was unable to say it. When referring to cats, dogs and horses of unknown sex, the children would randomly assign sex, with the conventionally "prettier" animals being called "she."

On Fighting for "Animal Rights"

Animal Person

Or how a paragraph would refer to animal rights and animal welfare as if they're interchangeable. Being featured on ARZone's worldwide Live Guest Chat has reinvigorated my thinking about a couple of topics ( here 's the transcript). And then I read the "OMG!!!!!OED!!!!!LOL!!!!!" OED!!!!!LOL!!!!!" LOL!!!!!" in today's New York Times, and I couldn't resist posting.

Newfoundland MP Says PETA Pie Throw Could be Terrorism

Critter News

She's referring to the pie thrown in the face of Fisheries Minister Gail Shea by a PETA member protesting the Canadian seal hunt. It's pretty scary that a Liberal MP would actually question whether a pie in the face is terrorism. I'm wondering whether the Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act in the US is making the rounds of Canadian politicians.

PETA 100

4 The Love Of Animals

We love to share other sites who are helping spread the word about dog adoption and responsible pet ownership. is one of those sites, and they just celebrated a huge success! Their Facebook page has reached over 130,000 fans! That’s a whole bunch of dog lovers.

2010 200

Lessons Learned From 4 Years of Animal Person, Part 2

Animal Person

You might want to refer to omnivores as "corpse munchers." But I'm not referring to them. I'm referring to people who want to bully or attack and not have to deal with the consequences. Yesterday's lessons learned were primarily about blogging. Today they're about language. Lesson #7 Obsessing over language can become counterproductive. And this, coming from a person with a doctorate in Applied Linguistics. I can talk about language all day, every day.

2010 114

On ANIMAL EQUALITY, by Joan Dunayer

Animal Person

In the notes, she explains that she uses " nonhuman companion and nonhuman friend with reference to nonhumans treated with full respectl I use pet with reference to nonhumans who are sold, discarded, or otherwise disrespected" (204).

2010 136

Animal Welfare at

Animal Person

I think this is fabulous because Stephanie Ernst (the AW blogger is Stephanie Feldstein, so be careful referring to "Stephanie," or to the blogger with the pit bull!) Did you see that now has an Animal Welfare page? is clearly someone who advocates for animal rights. Ernst believes we don't have a right to use sentient nonhumans and all of her posts (and those of Alex Melonas, who also posts at are unequivocal about animal use.

The Bolo Project, A Puppy Shower for Bolo

4 The Love Of Animals

It will follow the journey of one puppy as she is trained to become a Leader Dog (more often referred to as a guide dog). “We

2013 249

Veganism is the "End Stage?"

Animal Person

Also, someone commented, referring to a vegan diet for dogs as "nonsensical" and I worry that the dozens of readers of that post will be influenced by that.

Vegan 100

On Scheduling Epiphanies. and Coral Snakes

Animal Person

One of the reasons I do this is to see what others are saying about veganism (both good and bad), vegan food, their vegan friends and family members, and of course, about going vegan (I've already seen a handful of #in2010 references to going vegan).

Vegan 134

Does Vick Deserve a Second Chance?

Animal Person

And I'm not just referring to Vick here. Do you agree with the New York Times ' William C. Rhoden in " The Case for a Second Chance for Michael Vick? " Let's deconstruct the concept: Do you think that people who have spent their lives harming animals by eating them, just like I did and much of my family still does, deserve a second chance? Is fighting and killing dogs the same thing? Is Vick a special kind of creep for what he did? Is what he did like hunting? Like skinning a mink?

Where Does Entertainment Begin and End?

Animal Person

Juluri is referring to something specific: the Supreme Court's examination of First Amendment protection of acts of cruelty to animals. Juluri's focus on animals used to entertain humans is intentional and speaks to the legal battle he refers to.

When Horses are Persons

Animal Person

But on rare occasions, the animal-using world deigns to use the term when referring to an animal. Animal rights activists have considered sentient nonhumans as persons for quite some time. In " Hungary's Spirits Are Back Up, on a Horse ," the New York Times' Nicholas Kulish reports that a thoroughbred known as Overdose, who is owned by Hungarian Zoltan Mikoczy, has become "the Hungarian Seabiscuit. He appears to remind Hungarians of themselves: undervalued and underestimated."

Horses 100

On Honoring Living "Things"

Animal Person

Let's deconstruct: When he refers to living "things," he is referring to nonhuman animals as well as plants. William Horden's, " The Sacred Space of the Shared Heart " is exactly the type of piece I am talking about when I express frustration over "spiritual" people who kill nonhuman animals or who have them killed for a meal. "My

2010 103

Cute of the Day: baby giraffes

4 The Love Of Animals

The term “reticulated” refers to the giraffe’s net-like pattern of spots.). Busch Gardens in Tampa Bay recently welcomed two more baby giraffes, bringing the herd to 17! And they are super cute too! The giraffes joined the rest of the heard on the Serengeti Plain on July 13th.

Monkey Rescued in India

Critter News

According to the article, "Zoochosis is a term used by animal rights activists in reference to the degrading effect of zoos on animals that have been kept in captivity over a long period of time. A monkey was rescued from a factory in India where it was being held in captivity. It's an adult male macaque suffering from zoochosis. It's the first time I've ever heard the term.

India 109

On "Wild Justice"

Animal Person

Just to be clear, this book deals with the nonhuman animals who are most like us: social vertebrates, and specifically social mammals (and there are a handful of references to cetaceans who behave similarly).

Morals 130

Five-Year Old Shoots 35-Year Old in Head

Animal Person

each reference to "animals" above should really say "certain animals:" the ones we have chosen to demonize. Check this out. link]. It saddens me, and I find it extremely disturbing, that a five-year old child is giddy, and his parents (and the journalists on this program) are so pleased that he killed a 35-40-year old alligator. Let's deconstruct a few details: The young boy shot the alligator, who had been trapped , in the head and killed him. Where's the hunting?

On Radical Abolitionism and Guilt

Animal Person

He refers to Paulo Freire, a favorite of mine who, Best writes, "insisted-education can only be part of a much broader and multi-pronged movement of resistance, struggle, and change. Frequently, when I read Steve Best, I feel guilty. He's talking about me," I say to myself. Though I'm not a Francione-style abolitionist, and much of what Best writes isn't directed at me, plenty of what he writes is. And I don't mean me personally (though I probably should).

India 103

On "Compassion," "Nonviolence" and "Justice"

Animal Person

When you refer to your own beliefs with "nonviolence" you rightfully invite questions about what nonviolence means and it behooves you to work that all out beforehand. Why all the quotation marks? Because I've been thinking about the evolution of my own thinking--and languaging--regarding animal rights. Both animal rights groups and animal welfare groups use "compassion" frequently. Then again, so do people who kill animals for a living.

On Talking With Veterinarians About Vegan Food

Animal Person

If he didn't know about feeding dogs vegan food, I might have brought him some of these articles and I would have referred him to Vegan Dogs: Compassionate Nutrition or to We have a request, and it's an issue I've written about a handful of times but never had this particular question answered by readers: How do you talk with your vet--who is against feeding your dog vegan food--about your choice to do so? What do you say?

Vegan 103

Fancy Feasts (For Fabulous Floors)

4 The Love Of Animals

Cy, more commonly referred to at our house simply as ‘The Boy,’ has loved sinks, tubs and showers since he was a kitten and that is only one of the many unique qualities that I love about him.

2014 244

Cute of the Day: All Legs Baby!

4 The Love Of Animals

The term “reticulated” refers to the giraffe’s net-like pattern of spots. Busch Gardens Tampa Bay welcomed a new baby reticulated giraffe just days ago. Weighing approximately 147 pounds at birth, the newborn is the calf of mother, Teesa, and father, Sterling.

The Lady with 700 Cats

4 The Love Of Animals

says Lynea Lattanzio, referring to her mother’s forbiddance of felines in the house. Nat Geo WILD’s The Lady with 700 Cats, airs Saturday, July 30. Narrated by actor Jane Lynch of Glee fame, the program chronicles the story of Lynea Lattanzio, who is the founder and owner of California’s largest cat sanctuary. Can you imagine, 700 cats?! Tune into Nat Geo Wild on Saturday, July 30 at 10pm ET/PT to see the full story.

2011 159

On "The Age of Stupid"

Animal Person

I think those are the only references to diet. Did you ever wonder why people become subjects in a documentary when they know that they're going to look like fools? Or maybe they don't know that, and that's why they participate. Either way, there are many cringe-worthy moments in " The Age of Stupid ," which is sort of "An Inconvenient Truth About Oil, with a Particular Focus on Air Travel." I liked the way the film connects oil use to an oil company. It's about the people and the land.

On Vegan Grenades

Animal Person

You know those jokes that you get a minute later that are referred to as joke grenades? Well, I think the grenade metaphor also applies to conversion to veganism. There is often lag time between the critical mass event and its accompanying decision to go vegan--and the the actual doing: being a vegan. There's intention, then the becoming, then the vegan. I don't personally know anyone who read a book or a pamphlet one day, became a vegan the next, and is still a vegan.

Vegan 100

Animal Rights is Pernicious Nonsense?

Animal Person

Latimer refers to his previous two posts where he has "documented the ethical and moral shallowness of the 'animal rights' credo itself, which is based more on an anti-human self hatred, taking the form of a 'moral' squeamishness concerned more with stamping out human 'cruelty,' no matter what the social or economic costs might be.

Pet Photography 101 Giveaway

4 The Love Of Animals

Written by celebrated pet photographer, Andrew Darlow, the book is a great reference for anyone looking to capture their pets lives and personalities through the use of photography.

2010 180

Sleep Number True Silver Blanket

4 The Love Of Animals

Please be sure to use 4 The Love of Animals as the referring blog to ensure proper entry! I’m very excited to share this with you! We all know that our pets love to be on our beds with us. Some even sleep in our beds with us all night long!

2011 181

7 Tips for Creating a Dog-Friendly Yard

4 The Love Of Animals

Consider making a wish list, and then cross reference those plant varieties with the free database maintained by the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA). Having a pet does not mean you have to give up hopes of having a lush, well-manicured yard.

2012 260

Daddy, Cesar Millan’s Dog, lives to 16!

4 The Love Of Animals

Here is the information we received about Daddy, and the fund that has been established in his honor: Daddy, often referred to as America’s pit bull ambassador because of his gentle disposition and intelligence, lived with the Millans from the age of four months. Cesar and Daddy.

2010 216

Deconstructing Slate's "Pepper" Series

Animal Person

Authors who referred to their animals by given names were instructed to use a string of letters and numbers instead." For those who didn't read the five-part Slate series " Pepper, the stolen dog who changed American science " by Daniel Engber , I recommend it for the history, but also for the misconceptions and assumptions that you might want to discuss on the Facebook discussion about the series. Let's deconstruct: Part I: Where's Pepper? I addressed this one last week.

On the Psychological Continuum

Animal Person

Though I don't think I've ever used the term personhood with a non-attorney, I don't see what's so negative about referring to rights. There is a general consensus that vegetarianism and veganism are different philosophically. And when I spoke about a continuum over a year ago as a result of a workshop with Rae Sikora, who demonstrated that there was a continuum, there was some discontent. How about this?

Dog-Owner Conversations May Be Possible in Near Future

4 The Love Of Animals

A campaign was recently launched by the Nordic Society for Invention and Discovery to raise funds for the purpose of designing a specific device that the organization refers to as “No More Woof.”

2014 205

Calgary Zoo Set for External Review

Critter News

The latter comment is in reference to Zoocheck Canada , a zoo watchdog demanding the independent investigation. Bowing under pressure, they are allowing an outside group of experts review their operations. But, of course, this is really all because of some extremists who want to close down all zoos.

Zoos 100

Crime Gang Dealing in Rhino Horn and Elephant Ivory

Critter News

Also referred to as “The Butcher of Matabeleland”, he is the architect of Zimbabwe’s terrifying state security apparatus, creator of Zimbabwe’s Central Intelligence Office (CIO) - and rumored to be next in line for president after Mugabe. This is big, scary business out there, not some struggling poor people trying to survive. Like in arms dealing and drug smuggling, we are talking dangerous and powerful criminals. And where is the demand coming from? China of course!

Rhinos 100

From the Mailbag

Animal Ethics

Example: A reference to "still undemocratic Iraq" makes the assertion that eventually Iraq will be democratic. On the blog Animal Ethics (which I visited because of your reference to it) is the sentence "Let us temporarily assume for the sake of argument that it would be permissible to eat the flesh of an animal who was raised humanely and killed entirely painlessly."

2006 40

Get the Scoop on International Pooper Scooper Week

4 The Love Of Animals

References. If “every dog should have its day,” a whole week might make them feel even better.

2011 206