Fur is flying among animal lovers this week, as they argue over the use of the word pet.
The disagreement started when Ingrid Newkirk, president of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), suggested that animal owners use the word “animal companion” in place of pet and “guardian” in place of “owner,” because the suggested terms show more respect.
“Referring to an animal as a ‘pet’ or as ‘it’ reduces a sentient being with a personality and emotions to an inanimate object—a possession to be used in any way the “owner” wishes. Contrary to some reports, we are not seeking to ban these words; we’re simply suggesting that it would be more respectful to refer to the animals in our homes as ‘animal companions’ and ourselves as their “guardians” in the same way that all social movements concerned with cultivating respect have made appeals to stop using terms that are racist or sexist or that otherwise imply that the subject is less important than the speaker,” Newkirk said in a statement to PEOPLE about her feelings on the matter.
Not everyone agrees with Newkirk’s opinion, with some believing that PETA is calling for a total ban of the word “pet,” which the animal welfare group claims is not the case. This exact argument played on Good Morning Britain on Tuesday when one of PETA’s senior media officers, Jessica White, went on the show to talk about Newkirk’s comment.
“We don’t hate the word pet, we’re just encouraging people to use a better word,” White said in her interview.
In response, Good Morning Britain anchor Piers Morgan questioned White about the term “pet” and even asked her if PETA was planning on change their name since the group’s name contains the word “pet.”
“What will you be changing the name of your organization to?” Morgan asked in the interview
“I think your missing the point,” White responded, after reminding the host that PETA is an acronym.