BORIS Johnson is in the shit over the Kabul dog airlift, but the whole thing is symptomatic of Britain’s confused view of animals. Here are some of the strange things we do.
Dividing them into good and bad animals
A fluffy kitten and a big black rat both operate on instinct. They’re not moral agents. It’s particularly unfair on ones like hyenas, scorpions and sharks. It’s only a quirk of evolution that your family-friendly labrador prefers playing with a sock to biting your leg off.
Saying we love animals then eating them in huge quantities
We love animals, but also imprison them, put a bolt through their brains and dismember them for lamb chops. A staggering 2.2 million chickens are eaten every day in the UK, probably because they look like mean bastards. Although to be honest, if you got in a pub fight with a chicken it’d probably kick you in the head while you were unconscious.
Preferring animals to people
Nothing illustrates this better than the acceptability of airlifting doggies out of Kabul while humans are in danger. And your gran would be a lot less racist about refugees in the Channel if the dinghies were full of floppy-eared King Charles spaniels.
Crediting them with too much intelligence
Deluded pet owners say things like, ‘He understands everything, you know.’ No. He does not speak English. If your Yorkshire terrier shows signs of literacy – maybe he writes a witty Jay Rayner-style review of his last tin of Pedigree Chum – call the world’s top zoologists. The yappy little shit is a scientific phenomenon that will earn you millions.
Crediting them with supernatural powers
Another popular delusion is that pets can tell when someone has died or is seriously ill. Obviously you might think this IF YOU COUNT F**KING ANYTHING AS EVIDENCE. eg. ‘Mr Posh Paws just knew Auntie Susan had gone into hospital. He licked his anus in a sad way.’
Anthropomorphising wild animals
Wild animals get squished by cars or hunted for fun. As if to assuage our guilt, their fictional counterparts really live it up. Mr Toad gets to indulge his love of antique cars and Fantastic Mr Fox has an underground house Millennials can only dream of owning. Being hunted with dogs or blasted with a shotgun would be worth it to get on the property ladder.
Being strangely brutal about their deaths
Despite our professed love for animals, we’re brutally matter-of-fact about their deaths. Luckily for your kids, they don’t get put down if you’re sick of shelling out for pricey Calpol. Nor do we say: ‘Gran’s in a better place now. Right, time to flush her down the toilet.’ Although with the rising cost of old-age care, that could change.