The most common companion animals are dogs and cats, both of whom began their association with humans as partners rather than property; but almost any animal species on Earth can potentially be a companion animal.
Many of us regard our companion animals as members of our families and would damn the torpedoes to protect them, just as we would any human member of our family.
Legally, however, they are just a slightly higher class of slave than the agricultural animals that humans raise for food and other produce.
Legally worldwide, our non-human companions are our property. In Australia (where animal welfare is handled under State law), we have the legal right to kill our companion animals, any time for any reason, as long as we don’t cause them ‘unnecessary’ pain while we do it.
In most states, we have the legal right to provide only the barest minimum of their physical needs, and to neglect their emotional needs altogether.
Even if we abuse our companions repeatedly, or kill them in a way that causes them pain, even if someone finds out, even if it goes to court, even if we are found guilty, we know we will get, at worst, a minor penalty of a fine or a short gaol term.
Being litter-bearing animals, even if a dog or cat or rabbit gives birth only once in her life, she produces more than the number of individuals needed to maintain zero population growth. This encourages the perception of these animals as plentiful, and therefore disposable and easily replaced.
The wastage rate of horses that are not considered up to par is staggering.
Puppy and kitten farms exploit this over-reproduction to churn out more dogs and cats for sale, while keeping their ever-pregnant mothers in shocking conditions (links)
Across the world, millions of companion dogs and cats are murdered in so-called shelters every day because no-one wants them. In Australia, the number is around 250,000 a year
APA advocates zero population growth, through fertility control alone, for all companion animals and exponential improvements in legal protections for companion animals.
This would begin with the shutdown and abolition of all commercial breeding of companion animals, strict controls on private breeding, and an end to the killing of healthy companion animals in shelters or by ‘owners’.
Our long-term vision is that all animals brought into the world by human actions will be entitled to the same protections as human members of the community.