Framing the Conversation about Pets

Let me start off by saying I am not the Word Police and I am fairly estranged from political correctness.  I have pet peeves of course coupled with a love of words that goes beyond nerdy.  I recognize the power words have so I try to treat them with respect.  In fact, that’s my approach to word choice in general – I try to come from a place of respect toward whatever issue is being discussed.

That said, this post is about how our national conversation regarding pets has been framed and my individual response and effort to proactively shift the perspective in my tiny corner of the world.  To be clear, this is not an attempt to dictate to anyone what words should and should not be used in discussion.

I’ll start with some of the most widely used terms:

Euthanasia – This is a kindness we offer to medically hopeless pets by using the gentlest method available to end suffering.  This term does not apply to what is done when shelters are attempting to decrease their population by ending the lives of healthy/treatable pets.  I don’t consider that to be a kindness in any way, shape or form.  I call that killing, not euthanasia.  And I am deeply opposed to killing.

Pet overpopulation problem – This is more than simple word choice for me because I actually don’t believe we have a pet overpopulation problem in this country since Nathan Winograd worked out the math disproving it.  I do believe however, that we have a shelter pet killing problem that is kept largely in the shadows and left out of our public discussion except when it is incorrectly referenced as a “necessity”.

Stray dogs and feral cats – All strays and ferals have one thing in common:  They are either former pets or descendants of pets.  Pets are animals we have domesticated for the purpose of companionship and/or a utilitarian function such as guarding sheep.  They are not “invasive species” – they are here because we desired their presence and orchestrated their existence at some point.  They are pets and since they don’t have a specified owner at the moment, they live in and belong to the community.  They are the community’s pets and it is the community’s responsibility to care for them in my view.  In the case of strays, this means taking the pets to a shelter to be fed and looked after until a new home is secured.  For feral cats, this means adopting a TNR program.

Now for a pet peeve (no pun intended):

Getting rid of pets – I am not the mob.  I don’t get rid of my pets.  I may place a pet in a new home with a screened applicant but this is intended to be an “upgrade” for the pet by placing him in a more fitting situation.  I’m not snuffing him out or even putting him out of sight, out of mind.  I am hoping to improve the pet’s quality of life by placing him in an environment where he is more likely to thrive than if he stayed in my home.  This is a good thing, not a cement-shoes-and-a-river thing.

And finally, a clarification:

Pet food vs. people food – There is no such thing as pet food or people food.  There is food.  It is used to feed both pets and people.  If you don’t believe me that your pet’s food is made from people food, take a look at the bag or the TV commercial for the product – images of people food, right?  Food safety concerns all of us.

And as for people food being harmful to pets – see above.  If feeding your pet healthy table scraps from your own plate was truly bad, why would pet food companies advertise that they use those same ingredients to make your pet’s food?  It’s just food, albeit healthier and far less processed when it comes from your plate instead of a bag.  With some research (pdf) and common sense, we can feed our pets and ourselves safely and healthfully from our one and only food supply.

What other frequently used pet terms are worth giving a second thought?  Any pet peeves?

50 thoughts on “Framing the Conversation about Pets

  1. fur babies … SHUDDERS … I LOVE my animals, but I HATE that term LOL

    I hate the word “getting him or her “fixed”” – I can handle “speutered” (in fact I like it) but they “ain’t broke” LOL

    1. I don’t like the word “fixed” either, but apparently it’s the most understood in lower income communities. I try to use it for that reason.

      I say spay/neuter like it’s one word LOL

  2. feral – never liked that description and now I use community like you wrote – I check in here almost daily for a healthy dose of sanity –

  3. Guardian. I HATE the word. I am not my dogs’ guardian. I own my dogs. Pet ownership means I not only have rights regarding my dogs – but also responsibilities for them and to the community at large.

    Saying I am a pet owner reminds me that rights and responsibilities go hand in hand. I cannot have one without the other.

  4. Gosh, did I write this post?? I tell folks you “get rid” of fleas, old couches, and crappy boyfriends.
    I have an issue with folks saying “adopt” when they mean “buy,” and “rescue” when they’ve adopted their pet at a shelter….unless it was a really ucky shelter.

    1. Aughh! Adopt vs Buy. Say what you mean people. I am a contact for rescue and breeder referral and I spend as much time trying to figure out what some one wants as I do figuring out where to send them (if anywhere, some callers engender suggestions of getting a stuffed toy instead of anything with a pulse).
      Invariably, “adopters” who actually want a puppy to buy either get embarrassed or PC Overload Defensive when called on it.

      Oh and I agree with previous posters:

      -Great article!
      -Hate “guardian” “get rid of” and “fur kids/babies”

      I don’t mind calling one’s self mom or dad to a pet and I do it too. But people using “pet parent” as a serious descriptive term gets in my teeth. You are NOT raising them to be independent, go to college, vote in elections and pay taxes someday folks.

      More recently I have had two contacts from people, one an owner, one a shelter volunteer. Both had dogs that they needed to place. Only nagging problem was “unwanted, intentional mouth on skin contact” and there had been some “skin breakage” due to “unwanted mouth on skin contact”.
      Further questioning revealed that the dog the shelter volunteer was trying to find a transfer for had landed someone in the ER for stitches. Yes, I do call that unwanted. I also call it a “bite”.

      1. Unwanted intentional mouth on skin contact that leads to unwanted expensive Dr suturing skin back together with elevated discomfort makes the dog suitable match challenged and owner deficient.

    2. I think “rescue” is valid if it refers to adopting from a kill shelter at least. I am inclined to encourage rather than discourage the use of the word rescue since it makes people feel good about adopting. Now of course if somebody just plain buys a dog from the newspaper or what have you, that wouldn’t be a rescue.

    3. When people say ‘rescue,’ I can’t help but picture them rappelling down a cliff face or maybe diving into churning waters to get their dog.

      But as long as the dog wasn’t sold commercially, I don’t begrudge them calling an adoption that if they want to.

      My dog was a former stray I adopted from a kill shelter, but I sometimes like to tell people that I bought her from the used dog store. (OK. I only say that to friends who actually know what I mean, but I think it’s hilarious.)

  5. “Rescue” drives me completely insane when it is used as an excuse to purchase a dog from a pet store or crap breeder as in “I rescued him from that horrid pet store.” It’s just a self-serving justification for an impulse purchase.

  6. Neuter is neuter. It covers both castration of the male and spaying (not “spading” … shudder) of the female.

    My cats are neutered. A neutered male and a neutered female. There is no necessity for the neologism “speuter.” I have five neutered dogs here.

    I coined (though probably not the first to do so) the term euphemasia. Meaning, convenience killing that is justified as euthanasia by the killers. But I don’t use it in conversation, because it is too hard for the ear to distinguish. Killing works just fine.

    “Positive” when applied to dog training. “Go only to a positive trainer,” “We use only positive methods to train here at Fairy Farts Kanine Kollege.” A completely meaningless marketing dog-whistle that tells nothing about what is actually done, and basically sorts trainers according to intellect, or intellectual honesty, without telling the dog owner anything she needs to know.

    “Cue” for “command.” A cue is a signal to do something at a specific time and place, when it is assumed that you are already highly motivated to do it. You are standing in the wings with your greasepaint on, ready to hit your mark. A command is a command, impelling you to do something whether or not you would prefer to do so.

    “Come” and “stay” are not “cues.” They are commands. Non-optional, whether or not they are exactly what the dog feels like doing at the moment.

  7. PIT BULL!

    It doesn’t mean anything. Or, more precisely, it means very specific things, but it means about a million different specific things depending on who is doing the talking.

    To some, it means “American Pit Bull Terrier.” To others, it means that plus anywhere from two to thirty different other breeds. To some, it means any bully breed dog. Others add in mixed breeds and/or dogs that look like they might be mixed breeds containing one or more of any of the aforementioned types of dogs.

    I once asked a guy who hated pit bulls what he thought a pit bull was, and he said it was a mean dog that weighed more than about 60 pounds. So that’s a whole nother circle added to the already ridiculous Venn Diagram of Pit Bulls.

    I’ve heard people claim that pit bulls are brown or brindled dogs, and I’ve witnessed a taxonomy in practice that classifies any dog that bites someone as a pit bull.

    I’d venture a guess that almost every time two or more strangers get together and discuss ‘pit bulls,’ they’re not even talking about the same thing.

    I have similar but weaker objections to a lot of amateur breedism, but the ‘pit bull’ rhetoric is actively out there killing dogs that look like my dog, so I’m a little more worked up about it.

  8. And what do you call death administered to a behaviorally challenged dog? He isn’t an overpopulation statistic but he isn’t adoptable because he bit someone.

    1. Rather a complicated issue. If a dog is put to death after one bite with no evaluation by a qualified person and no attempt to modify behavior – I consider that unfair to the dog. Likewise when a place at a qualified sanctuary can be secured for the dog.
      At the other end of the spectrum will be dogs with bite histories who have been fairly evaluated and worked with by qualified people in an effort to rehabilitate. If those efforts fail and the dog is still a risk to people and no appropriate sanctuary spot can be secured, euthanasia is likely appropriate.

      Of course there are many cases that fall in the murky middle. I would hope that each dog with a bite history gets evaluated on an individual basis, including the circumstances of the bite. To answer your question, I wouldn’t want to assign a label to ending the lives of dogs with a bite history because there are so many variables and each dog deserves to be evaluated as an individual.

      1. Our rescue uses “euthanasia” to describe dogs killed for medical reasons

        PTS or “put down” for dogs who are killed for severe behavioral reasons.

        We didn’t have meeting on it or anything, it isn’t even formal, it’s just how it evolved because it seems to have made sense.

        There’s a blurry line with dogs who have behavior issues due to neurologic damage. But in the bimonthly reports, these dogs are usually listed as euthanasias.

      2. Jennifer – Can you elaborate on dogs w/behavior issues due to neurological damage? I’m not familiar with this and am interested.

      3. Some breeds have rage syndromes, which can be a form of epileptic seizure. Rage seizures/syndrome can also result from lesions in the brain. These can be scar tissue to tumors.

        It’s pretty awful, the dogs are friendly and solid, will follow commands and seem normal. Then they either trigger from a stimulus or seize randomly and will go after things, animals or people. Not a snap, they usually will make a serious effort to do real damage. It’s different from a dog acting out of fear or aggression. The only thing you can do is get control and separate them from anything they can harm until it passes, then they act as they would after having had had a typical seizure, they are confused, tired, sometimes uncoordinated.

        I was finishing up bathing a dog who had come into rescue with vague hints of some sort of behavioral issue but in the two weeks I’d had her, she’d been perfect. So I did not have a lead on her as I lifted her down from the tub. She was enjoying being dried off when she went still, started to growl then stopped, blinked a few times then started wiggling again. The next day I was letting the dogs have some nice outside time. I saw it happen. Her whole expression blanked. She showed no reaction to her name and then charged me. I got hold of her collar and was able to get her through a sliding door. Once by herself, she snapped at the air, the glass and spun until it passed. She was barely responsive (post-ichtal) for about half an hour then started to recognize the people around her and went back to being a normal happy dog.

        As a series of blood tests showed nothing, my veterinarian and the vet who does most of our rescues felt it was almost certainly neurologic. In spite of careful management, it happened again about a week later. We declined an MRI and opted to euthanize, but did have a necropsy performed. She had a slow growing, non-cancerous tumor in her brain that was almost certainly the cause of her episodes.

        Sometimes in the case of a true rage seizure dog, there is no answer as to why, similar to idiopathic epilepsy.

        These are illnesses and injuries. They can not be remedied with behavioral modification. They are not due to owner fail. Some rage seizure dogs do respond to drug therapy with anti-epileptic medication, but it’s often a long, unrewarding trial and the risk of serious injury to people is too great for rescue to assume in most cases.

      4. Thanks Jennifer. That’s good information to know. I have heard of Springer Rage but really didn’t know much about it or the neurological disorders that might be behind such episodes in other breeds.

  9. We had to put down a dog with “clocking out” psychotic aggressive behavior similar to — but not identical with — rage-type syndrome. His medical history included severe blunt-force trauma (HBC) that, among other long-term problems, had apparently caused brain damage.

    He was unconscious for at least several minutes, but never got any steroids for brain swelling at the time. Don’t want to get extreme with that medical care, ya know.

    I can’t call it euthanasia. But perhaps preferable to the kind of life that he could *safely* lead — at least for that specific dog. That’s the call we made, anyway.

  10. Excellent post and comments, particularly dealing with the euphemisms that people create to make a situation or an action more palatable to the masses.

  11. What a refreshingly intelligent article and discussion. My pet-peeve is the word “shelter” itself. “Shelters” are for humans–abused, battered or homeless women or men. To the best of my knowledge, humans are not “euthanized” or “killed” in a shelter. Animals are impounded and often killed in their “shelters.” Using the word “shelter” to describe animal impoundment facilities is the most dangerous euphemism in my view.

    1. There are fees when adopting a human child. We don’t call it selling children though, do we?

      I approve of the term “adoption fee” when the animal is coming for a shelter rescue. Breeder or pet store? Not so much.

      I am not affiliated with any organized rescues, but I took in a few dogs, cleaned them up (neutering, dental work, etc) before adopting them out. I did charge a minimal adoption fee. I don’t think that I was really “selling” them.

      1. Dogs and cats are considered “personal property” in the eyes of the law, children are NOT. Accepting money for an animal is a SALE and all applicable taxes should be charged. You do not buy a child – or at least not legally.
        By the way as a hobby breeder I collect and pay all applicable sales tax in my state for the sale of each puppy.

      2. We do charge an adoption fee, and we do not apply tax. We are a non-profit organization – tax-exempt. We do charge tax on appropriate items, such as t-shirts and other fundraising merchandise.

        Shelters – yes, we are a “shelter” – spend an exorbitant amount of money on veterinary care for animals. If we gave the animals away, our doors would close and we couldn’t continue our work. Our operating budget is in the very low six-figures, and we’re privately funded. It’s not easy to keep the wheel turning as it is; adoption fees are necessary to help us along.

        When an animal leaves our facility he or she is spayed/neutered; up-to-date on vaccinations; dogs have been through basic obedience; cats are FeLV/FIV tested; dogs are SNAP tested and treated if necessary; deworming takes place… And that’s just routine care. Our shelter is known for taking in animals that would be euthanized at other shelters. Our vet costs are astronomical.

        Believe me, there would be no happier day in our lives than the day when we could close our doors because every animal had a home, every dog and cat were spayed/neutered, and all animals were WANTED.

      3. You wrote:

        “Believe me, there would be no happier day in our lives than the day when we could close our doors because every animal had a home, every dog and cat were spayed/neutered

        You have a much different idea of happiness than I do. When all companion animals are spayed – none of them are left to reproduce and we lose a vital part of our lives and connection to the world.

        You dream = my idea of hell

      4. Okay – let me clarify.

        “All animals are WANTED” meaning animals aren’t neglected and left in shelters. They aren’t beaten. They aren’t abused. They’re wanted. As companions by people like you and me who are responsible, who enjoy their company, and let them live the lives of companion animals. Is that clear enough?

        I’m by no means a PETA person looking to eradicate the Earth of domesticated animals.


      5. Thanks for clarifying – but I did quote your original comment correctly – so I don’t think that being cranky with me is called for.

      6. You were cranky first. But let’s call it a wash and have a run in the parks with the dogs. We’ll both feel better!

  12. I’ve gone to “castrate”. It’s kind of a shocker word for most people. Too many do not associate the kindly spay/neuter/speuter/fix with ripping out the gonads of their pet (too often a baby) by an invasive surgical procedure.

  13. I hate the use of “adopt”, “rescue”, “pet parent”, “fur kid” and most of all the word invented by the animal rights nutcases – “PUPPYMILL”. To me there are three kinds of kennels – commercial kennels who have large numbers of dogs and are USDA inspected; hobby/show kennels who usually have a smaller number of dogs; and SUBSTANDARD kennels which can be EITHER a commercial kennel or a hobby kennel.I do not judge any kennel by whether or not they live up to MY standards but simply the level of care for the animals according to established requirements of animal husbandry. Nor do I consider testing to be a qualifier since I know supposedly good show breeders who don’t test and commercial kennels who DO. I have visited commercial kennels where I would have been willing to have a picnic on the floor and I have been in hobby kennels where I would not let my dog put a foot on the floor. It’s NOT about the numbers but about the CARE. As far as adopt – that is for human children not dogs and the only time I “rescue” a dog is if I run into a burning building. I have rehomed many dogs in my more than 44 years in dogs but I have never “rescued” one.
    It is past time for those of us who are the true experts in animal husbandry to take control of the dialogue.

    1. So, in your opinion, people who run shelters are not experts in their field? They do not have the education or knowledge to rescue, rehome, adopt – whatever term you choose – an animal into a better, more loving situation?

      The director of our shelter has her degree from Skidmore College. The majority of our managers have masters degrees in the sciences, as do I, a lowly volunteer.

      We have a veterinarian who visits on-site for animals who don’t travel well, and several vets to whom we bring animals for care. Our “shelter” is clean (I assure you, your dog could set foot in there), comfortable for the animals, and admired by visitors.

      Perhaps it would meet your standards, perhaps not. Perhaps we could join in your dialog. Or, perhaps it is those “true experts in animal husbandry,” who happen to be hobby breeders keeping shelters like ours open who wish to keep us OUT of the conversation.

      1. Advanced degrees and fancy titles are wonderful, but they are not a substitute for hands-on experience in animal husbandry. It’s well documented that many, if not most, “shelter” workers do not know how to identify one purebred dog from another. In addition, most “shelter” workers do not have experience in canine reproduction.

        And if you are going to insist on dragging out the false and tired old arguement that hobby breeders are the cause and source of dogs in “shelters”, then you and I are not going to get along and we’ll just have to agree to disagree.

        Breeders produce life. Life is good. Buyers–who violate written contracts from the breeder–are the source of dogs in “shelters”.

      2. We can agree to disagree, that’s fine and honorable in my book. It’s what makes for lively conversation.

        I just didn’t like the tone of Elizabeth’s message, inferring that shelter workers were incapable of having this conversation.

        I’m not arguing that fancy titles trump those experienced in husbandry or vice-versa. I often tell people that if they cannot find the dog they want through a rescue organization, they should thoroughly research a breeder. I’m all for a respectable breeder who vets the people to whom they are selling their animals. I happen to have an Australian Shepherd from a breeder plus three dogs I’ve rescued. On the same token, our shelter thoroughly vets the people to whom we adopt. All shelters should.

        But back to my original point. Our shelter is experienced in animal husbandry as well as veterinary care. Animals are born in shelters every day; do you think we call in a veterinarian for every birth? We vaccinate, medicate, and provide veterinary care to our animals, as any veterinary technician would, since many of us are VTs. We don’t just push papers and pay the bills. How do you think these things get done on a shoestring budget in shelters all around the country? We go to school, learn how to do them, and apply the techniques. Amazing, I know. And fancy, too.

        And – I’m using the word “and” too much – I agree that people who buy or adopt dogs often don’t know the responsibilities that they’re undertaking. That coupled with breeders, and yes, rescues who are too quick to give their animals to anyone on the street are responsible for our shelters and pounds filling to the brims.

        And – just one more “and” – I agree with your other comment to “Matt” regarding PETA and HSUS. They each have hidden agendas and have brainwashed the public into believing their missions. They’re money-making machines which do nothing to help animals whatsoever.

        So, honestly, I think you and I are just a couple of animal lovers who could actually have a productive and agreeable conversation. Because the bottom line is that we have more in common than not. We happen to care about animals.

  14. So, for those who dislike the word “rescue” — how would you describe the origin of my current cats?

    Two are a mother and daughter left over from a litter that was born in my back yard. I took them in, finished taming the kittens (the mom-cat was already pretty tame) and gave them to people I knew, without a fee and with only minimal vetting. I think I rescued them and placed/ adopted out the kittens.

    My other cats came fromn a certain feral colony over a period of a few years. The people who fed the colony gave me the kittens without a fee and with NO vetting. I think I adopted them, or accepted placements, from the feeders/rescuers.

      1. I would disagree. In my opinion, Sheila “adopted” animals who were “rehomed” by the “shelter.”

        I volunteer at a no-kill shelter, and that’s what we are. A shelter for neglected an abused animals, just like neglected and abused people. We “rescue” animals from bad and often dangerous situations, provide medical care, prepare them (either with medical care and/or obedience or behavioral training) for a new life in a new home.

  15. Cats and dogs are not “things” anymore so than the person reading this is a “thing”.

    Referring to a cat and dog as “it” is another ignorant/arrogant mistake.

    Cats and dogs are living, breathing, feeling, thinking, loving, soul filled Children of God EQUALLY as much as we human animals are.

    They are living souls. They are individual persons.

    It is the ridiculous, arrogant, ignorant act of trying to make cats and dogs “inferior” to us (which they are not)via our language that helps to allow the murder of these beautiful individuals.If you dont think a word makes a difference, tell me…would you rather be called a “lady” or a “whore”? A “man” or a “slimeball”? Same thing with cats and dogs…what you call them directly reflects your inner feelings about them.

    The day we start treating companion animals as our equals (they are), is the day that we will see the murder of cats and dogs in ‘shelters’ start decreasing dramatically until it is no more tolerated than killing kids at a day care center is.

    Humans dont have a right to “own” our fellow animals anymore so than whites have a right to “own” blacks. Cars are owned. Houses are owned. Living souls are individuals, not “property”.

    We are their guardians, or companions, not their owners. Time to get over ourselves, folks.

    The term “pet” implies, whether consciously or subconsciously, that cats and dogs exist for the sole purpose of us having someone to “pet”. Incorrect. Cats and dogs exist for the same reason that we all do….to live, love and be loved. Ask not what your companion animals can do for you, ask what you can do for your companion animals.

    The killing of a healthy cat or dog = murder.

    Murder is cruel. It is not “humane” or “ethical”.

    Picture it: You are walking down the street. Someone comes up from behind you and sticks you with a needle with a lethal solution in it.

    At their trial, your killer stands before the judge and says: ” Your honor….what I did was the only humane thing to do. We live in a city plagued by crime. I didnt want my victim (YOU) to be shot by a criminal, or raped by a sex offender, or hit by one of the many speeding cars in the city, or to die a painful death due to the fatty foods that they eat. So you see, your honor, I did what was best for them. I did the painless thing. I did the caring thing. It didnt hurt them too much….I dont think.I freed them from their hardships. There is, after all, a horrible human overpopulation problem in the world….kids are starving because other humans eat enough for five humans. I did the humane thing”.

    Would that B.S. be acceptable to YOU or your loved ones? Should we let this “kind, humane, ethical” killer walk the streets free to treat others with “kindness, with “ethics”, and in a “humane” way? Lets stop the insane nonsense and come back to reality. Wake up.

    This nazi tactic of giving ourselves “superiority” over others lives is what caused the holocaust, and it is what is causing the modern day holocuast of cats and dogs in death camps (kill shelters).

    Who the heck are these ignorant/arrogant humans, to think that they are God,and that they get to decide who lives or dies? What if someone were to play God over THEIR lives? They wouldnt like it one bit. Thus, the reason that they are hypocrites and murderers.

    If stabbed with a lethal needle, and with your killer pleading innocence due to their “humane” actions:
    My question to YOU:
    Would this nonsense be acceptable to YOU or your family?
    If you were killed, would any amount of lame “humane” excuses be valid to your surviving family?

    Would such a lame “humane” explanation make it ok for someone to take the life of someone you love?

    Let’s get real here, people.

    Wake up and smell the Folger’s crystals.



    Nothing less.


    And there is not one pro kill hypocrite on Earth who, if the roles were reversed and THEY were about to be killed, who would see it as a good thing. They would scream and run for their lives faster than a Cheetah on crack.

    All healthy living souls want to live. How do we know this? Because we all have within us, the “fight or flight” response when danger approaches.

    Whether your soul is in the body of a cat, dog or a human animal, when danger is coming your way, you either:

    Run for your life

    Fight for your life.

    Because all healthy beings want to live.

    And all healthy beings deserve to live. Equally.

    You know it. I know it.

    Do unto others….. Go No Kill.

    1. Okay, Matt. Why don’t you forward your passionate comments to HSUS and PETA? You do understand that both of those organizations are responsible for the deaths of tens-of-thousands of healthy animals?

      Animals do not have rights because animals cannot accept responsibility for their actions. Animals are not people. To say that they are only makes you sound very silly.

      And, please, don’t try to respond that I’m an abuser, killer, etc., etc. I’m all for true animal welfare. I am NOT for animal rights. The true goal of the animal rights philosophy is the end of all animal use and ownership. It’s an extreme social change movement with a hideous agenda.

      If you believe the animal rights philosophy, that’s great. You have that right. But you do not have the right to impose your beliefs on others.

  16. I tried to figure out what Matt’s point was, but I was too busy murdering my family’s Easter dinner.

    Which I bought as a poult. With money.

    But at least I never insulted him by calling him a “pet.”

    Uh, Elizabeth, the word “puppymill” has been around longer than the animal rights movement, and has been in use by dog fanciers and animal welfare workers since at least the 1960’s.

    It’s descriptive, accurate, and pejorative at the same time. Perfectly good word.

  17. @SmartDogs: Sorry, I couldn’t write in that thin column anymore.

    I think the worst part about e-writing is not being able to tell a person’s mood. I thought you were criticizing me, so I barked back. I apologize.

  18. Love your post. A couple of peeves of mine are things already mentioned: Referring to pets as “that”, rather than “who”, and still using the word “housebroken” rather than “house-trained”. I prefer my pets not be “broken”

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