Futuristic Fiction: #Research for #Writers, Part 6, Animals, as Pets.

A neighbour’s pet dog.

You’ll find the introduction to this series here.

This post looks at ‘Animals, as Pets’.

Bet this’ll prove a contentious post: people often treat their pets with more love and care than they do their children and siblings. As someone who’s had pets as varied as goldfish, rabbits, and dogs, I’ve some understanding of that bond. For many reasons, I haven’t been a pet owner for decades, but that makes little difference to my stance on the issue.

I bring this subject into this series as it’s growing obvious many pets have excessive carbon footprints. Considering the growing awareness of, and concern about, climate change, anything impacting on the carbon pollution at the root of the coming catastrophe must be an issue for writers of future fiction to at least consider.

We need to look at the topic in the round, as I’ve tried to do with previous subjects in this series. The difficulty with this one is the emotional content, of course. So many pets are viewed as family members. In some cases, they’re sole companions of lonely and vulnerable people and, as such, these domesticated animals provide an essential service.

And some ‘pets’ are, unfortunately, abandoned by some animal lovers.

With the increasing interest in the building climate emergency, will pets become socially less acceptable? Will some states and nations introduce draconian laws concerning their ownership as certain resources become scarcer? Will the more extreme eco-warriors take it upon themselves to form assassination gangs whose aim is the killing of what they’ll see as harmful contributors to the crisis? Will society find ways to prevent the tendency of some pet owners to gather large groups of cats/dogs into their pack? Will ‘exotic’ animals become more common, more ‘acceptable’ as pets? Perhaps some nations will institute large, punitive licence fees to control pet numbers.

There’s a relatively new science of anthrozoology that looks at human-animal relations; will it become a fashionable choice of career for those who follow trends?

As in the previous topics, I leave it to you, as writers with imagination, to do your research and ask the necessary questions, maybe even find some answers. Though answers are not generally considered as much the territory of authors as are questions.

Part 1, Introduction and Accommodation. Part 2, Activism. Part 3, Advertising. Part 4, Agriculture. Part 5, Artificial Intelligence.

Research examples:

National Geographic
Mossy Earth
Oxford Academic
Vet Help Direct
University of Edinburgh

14 thoughts on “Futuristic Fiction: #Research for #Writers, Part 6, Animals, as Pets.

  1. I am a dog and cat owner since childhood (although not for the last five – that’s when our dog passed, and my M is now severely allergic to cats). We are looking forward to having another dog at some point. I have always been a huge supporter of SPCA and all my pets (except one) came from there. Our last dog, Rudy, had been abandoned next to a major highway (or he was lost). He was in desperate shape when found as he had terrible worms from surviving on gophers. He was put up for adoption two months after he was taken to SPCA and we were lucky enough to have him join us.

    I understand the environmental implications. If your question was taken to an extreme, we could ask a similar question about whether we should be bringing more children into the world as there are so many already who need love, care, and a family. I don’t know the answer, but a good exploration for a writer.

    On a somewhat related note, have you watched Raised by Wolves? I’ve seen better series (it lacks focus and tries to do too much, imho), but it should pique a writer’s explorative interests.

    Interesting post.

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    1. It’s mostly allergies that keeps our home pet-free, Lynette. Our daughter is allergic to both cats and dogs, so it’s a no-no for us. My brother used to always have his dogs as rescue dogs from a society here in UK, in fact he also used to act as a driver to collect and deliver the animals to others. He’s too unwell to do that now, unfortunately.
      As for human population, that’s coming up in another post in this series. There is absolutely no doubt that we are overpopulating the planet and if we don’t do something about overbreeding it’s likely nature will step in and do it for us, who knows, maybe with a virus?
      Haven’t seen Raised by Wolves. If it’s on anything other than our free TV channels we won’t see it, as we restrict ourselves to those on what is called FreeSat. Too many channels!

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  2. I’ve always struggled with the definition of a ‘pet’. What is it? How would one define a pet? If someone has a python (or some other exotic animal) in their house, is it a pet?

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    1. Well, Asit, I guess the answer to that question would depend on who you asked. But my go-to dictionary (SOED) defines a pet as: ‘An animal domesticated or tamed and kept for pleasure or companionship.’ That is the sense in which I use it here.


        1. I fear many pet owners are able to fool themselves into believing they are doing the animal a favour; no more true than those who have ‘exotic’ pets, Asit. My own feeling is that wild animals should be left in the wild. Domestic animals and their offspring are a little different, as many wouldn’t survive in the wild, of course. But I imagine many of these ‘loved’ animals act only as fashionable or trendy companions for their owners.

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          1. One hundred percent agree with you. If you haven’t, see Tiger King on Netflix. It’s absolutely unbelievable. They have a zoo with dozens of tigers. And when the tiger population grows, they simply cull them. What does it say about our greed? Also, I’ve seen shows where they have an unauthorized zoo in their backyard just so that they can make some money. And when they want to move on, they either leave these animals behind in captivity or they just release them. Here’s what one idiot did – https://www.gainesville.com/article/LK/20111019/News/604153739/GS

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            1. Thanks, Asit. I don’t subscribe to any online TV channels, as we have more than enough through our FreeSat connection. Your link leads to the site, but not the story, btw. But I understand your point. So many people have no understanding of the needs and the proper status of wildlife.


              1. Here it is:

                Several wild animals were still on the loose in an Ohio town on Wednesday after their owner had set them free and then killed himself, local authorities said.

                11:15 a.m. | Updated The authorities in the Ohio town where several wild animals are still on the loose said on Wednesday that their owner had set them free before killing himself on Tuesday evening.

                In a phone interview on CNN, the mayor of Zanesville, Butch Zwelling, said that the animals included lions, tigers, bears and wolves. He identified the owner as Terry Thompson.

                Large animals were running free outside of their cages when the police arrived as night fell on Tuesday, the local sheriff, Matt Lutz of Muskingum County, said during a Wednesday morning news conference. “We had animals outside that fenced area on the road,” Sheriff Lutz said, and officers shot them “at close range” with their sidearms. “We cannot have animals running loose in this county,” he said.

                As darkness fell, the police were concerned that the animals would disperse, and Sheriff Lutz said he made the call to shoot them with live ammunition. “We did not have any tranquilizer darts with us; we don’t carry them,” he said, adding that they later received darts for use around residential subdivisions.

                Sheriff Lutz said that the authorities had killed 43 or 44 animals of roughly 50 believed to be on the loose. One cat was hit on the interstate, he said.

                Mayor Zwelling advised residents to remain alert. “We’re asking people to look around” and “watch out for wild animals,” he said, adding, “it’s business as usual” in town, despite the closing of several schools for the day.

                Flashing lights on the roads warned early-morning commuters of the loose animals.

                Jack Hanna, former director of the Columbus Zoo and a well-known wild animal commentator, was helping the police in the area search for the animals, local television reported. Speaking on CNN on Wednesday morning, Mr. Hanna advised residents to remain calm if they see one of the animals: “Do not run.”

                Mr. Hanna later defended the sheriff’s decision to kill the animals rather than attempt to tranquilize and subdue them.

                But he also railed against the “lax” laws government ownership of exotic animals in Ohio.

                The former governor of Ohio, Ted Strickland, told The Columbus Dispatch that an executive order he had approved — but which had been allowed to expire under the state’s current governor — may have prevented Mr. Thompson from keeping the wild animals. “Someone with a record like this man was not intended to have these animals,” he said.

                The order prohibited those “convicted of an offense involving the abuse or neglect of any animal pursuant to any state, local, or federal law” from owning exotic animals. But it lapsed earlier this year as Gov. John Kasich’s administration sought to craft new legislation controlling sale and ownership of exotic animals, the paper said.

                Reports online gave details of animal cruelty charges against a Zanesville man by the name of Terry W. Thompson who lived at 270 Kopchak Road. The Columbus Dispatch said Mr. Thompson kept the animals on a 46-acre property at that address, along Interstate 70, and had been convicted of animal cruelty in 2005.

                A Terry Thompson also appears to have operated a motorcycle shop at that address called T’s World. A call to a number listed for the shop went unanswered early Wednesday.

                A satellite view of the large property shows multiple structures and what appears to be dozens of cars strewn haphazardly on the grass in two areas of the property:

                A Zanesville man by the name of Terry Thompson pleaded guilty last year to illegal firearms possession, including five fully automatic firearms and three short-barreled firearms without serial numbers, according to federal authorities. “Thompson pleaded guilty to two counts of possession of illegal firearms,” according a press release at the time from the United States attorney for the southern district of Ohio. “Each count is punishable by up to 10 years’ imprisonment. He also agreed to forfeit the weapons.”

                Dennis Detling, who lives near the property, told The Associated Press that he had often wondered about the animals nearby: “We hear weird noises every once in a while; we just try to figure out what it was.”

                On Tuesday night, deputies in Ohio’s Muskingum County Sheriff’s Office rode in the back of pickup trucks hunting the animals. “I would recommend staying indoors right now,” said Sheriff Lutz advised on late Tuesday.

                No attacks or injuries had been reported as of Tuesday evening, Mr. Lutz said, but several local schools announced they would be closed on Wednesday, at the sheriff’s recommendation.

                “I’m going to say the word ‘mature,’ ” Mr. Lutz said, describing the animals. “Very big. Aggressive.”

                He continued: “We’ve got a little bit of a list compiled. Mainly there were grizzly bears and black bears there. There were cheetahs, there were lions and there were tigers. Those are the primary things that we would be concerned with.”

                Mr. Lutz said that while he was not certain the farm’s owner, Mr. Thompson, was current on his permits, he had been in the past. But that seemed to offer little comfort to the sheriff.

                “Let’s just say, it’s a little loose,” Mr. Lutz said of the permit process, “in my opinion.”

                The animals had been fed recently, caretakers told the authorities, likely as recently as Monday.

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                1. A sad tale, Asit, demonstrating the unsuitability of wild animals as captives, and the stupidity of those who feel the need to show they have ‘power’ over such wild creatures.

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    1. That’s its purpose, Vister: to inspire ideas. Go for it! Let me know when you’ve completed whatever you decide to do so we can share it.


        1. That’s great, Vister! At the risk of seeming a boring old codger, let me give you a small and simple bit of advice: read, read as much as you can. It’s by far the best way to learn the craft, along, of course, with writing!

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