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PETA insulted for calling 'pet' a derogatory term

The organization prefers the term 'companion' over 'pet.'
Credit: TEGNA

NORFOLK, Va. — The People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) claims people are walking their dog wrong, and referring to them wrong, too.

A spokesperson for PETA is facing backlash after claiming the term "pet" is derogatory. On the program "Good Morning Britain," Jennifer White of PETA alleged the term "pet" patronizes the animal.

"A lot of people at home who have dogs and cats, they will call these animals pets, and they will refer to themselves as an owner. This implies that the animals are a possession," White said.

"Oh, for God's sake," Piers Morgan, co-host of the show said.

White continued to defend her stance by saying that when referring to animals as inanimate objects, it can justify poor treatment on them. She explained that people who are gifted pets for Christmas return them to shelters by January because the "novelty" has worn off.

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The show's hosts Piers Morgan and Susanna Reid, along with publicist Nike Ede were quick to share their options about the term.

"You’re trivializing all the work [PETA has] done by basically trying to change a name,” Ede started. "I am an owner because I bought my dog and I own it."

Ede said the term "owner" is the same as "ownership," which is the idea that to own something means "having some kind of care for something and taking responsibility."

PETA's founder and president Ingrid Newkirk further explained the organization's stance in a statement to Fox News.

"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."

This isn't the first time PETA tried to change terminology surrounding animals. In 2018, the organization asked the public to stop using phrases like "bring home the bacon," "killing two birds with one stone" and "beat a dead horse." It asked everyone to use more animal-friendly language like, "bring home the bagels," feed two birds with one scone" and "feed a fed horse."

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