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Do We Love Animals More Than Humans?

The following article was written by Dr. Barry Kipperman, and originally appeared on PETA Prime.

Each of us could easily recite the myriad reasons that our animal companions hold such a special place in our hearts. A common argument levied against animal activists suggests that we prefer animals to people. Rhetorical questions such as, “If you could only save a baby or a dog from a burning building, who would you choose?” come to mind. These types of questions serve to obscure the real issue: that our societal treatment of animals is in dire need of improvement.

Fortunately, having to choose between “the baby or the dog” seldom occurs in real life. But maybe there is more than a sliver of truth to the argument, as evidenced by the responses to a blog, “Cat vs. Spouse.” I suspect that if I had to choose between spending the next year on an island with either 10 random humans or an equal number of dogs and cats, I’d be looking for dog and cat food. It would be my version of Survivor!

On some level, I find this a sad reflection on the nature of my relationships with humans, and I acknowledge that I’m simply more comfortable around animals than I am around people. People have on numerous occasions caused me to feel disappointment and betrayal. I can seldom recall feeling let down in a similar manner by an animal. Maybe we simply expect more from people than we do from animals. I don’t expect a birthday card each year from my dog, Winston, and I don’t recall Lilly, my cat, saying “Thank you” for her new toy. Are our impressions of animals misplaced because our expectations of them are simply not as great? I suggest quite the opposite.

I believe that animals are devoid of all of the malevolence that people inflict on each other. In my view, animals are never deceitful, dishonest, manipulative, or malicious unless they are severely provoked or are in the wild, where Darwinian influences matter. OK, Winston may try to convince me that I forgot to feed him, but that doesn’t count. Animals are often able to forgive humans for unspeakable treatment. I can’t imagine that animals would ever take up hunting humans simply to entertain themselves, yet hunting remains a popular “sport” among humans.

I recall feeling livid years ago after seeing one of Eddie Murphy’s Dr. Doolittlemovies. I realized it was because he imbued all the animal characters with the aforementioned odious human qualities, which he apparently thought that we would find humorous. His characterization of animals behaving more like people violated my lofty beliefs. It revealed an ugly world similar to the one James Stewart saw in It’s a Wonderful Life had he never been born.

In conferring animals with the best of intentions, I take a leap of faith. Although I don’t use the word “faith” often, perhaps my feelings regarding the inherent goodness of the spirit of animals are akin to the faith that others may have in a deity or higher power. I believe this knowing that my theory can never be disproved. My trust in animals softens the harshness and disappointment that my interactions with humans occasionally bring. It is my hope in my daily work as an animal doctor that I honor that trust and express my gratitude to them for their enrichment of the world in which those of us blessed to know animals live.

“I am in favor of animal rights as well as human rights. That is the way of a whole human being.”
—Abraham Lincoln

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  • Danielle says:

    Animals mean everything to me. I can’t explain it. I just don’t have any ‘motherly’ instincts for people. Animals have pure hearts, they have no evil. Life would be incomplete without them

  • Arlene La Hera says:

    People try to lay a guilt trip on me for preoccupation with “animals” when countries are at war and children are starving.

    Why worry about how we treat some horses, cat and dogs? Why rally to protect our cousins the great apes, or the elephant, the rhino and the dolphin?

    We are cruel to our fellow humans BECAUSE we already allow and live with cruelty to animals. It is NOT the other way around. We will NOT treat animals better when the humans are finally fed.

    If inhumane treatment were not permitted toward lesser creatures – then inhumanity itself could not spread to such lengths as we see today.

    Inhumanity would be slow to seep so deeply into the human realm were it not already present to such a great extent in how we treat our animals.

    If we can kill our cousin, we can kill our brother.

  • Nikki says:

    It’s simple. What are the chances you’re going to find someone who’s also human that will not be judgmental, not take advantage over you, not be discriminating based on your race, income and lifestyle and actually stay around when things get a bit rough, even though with animals it’s basically because we’re their caretaker? It’s very rare to even find people with all of the above listed and let’s face it, we all have our share with humiliation and judgments from others of our kind to the point we just get tired of it and it can’t just end from there. We all need something or someone to have some emotional attachments to, and for me it’s with pets because they are the very faces I still have with me at the end of the day when every human face ditches or neglects for when I do need to show some emotional bonding simply because it’s too much for them and they’d rather be pricks otherwise. I’ll stop from there before going on with other rants.

  • Pelden lhamo says:

    I love animals more than anything else…as we say animals are like our parents its truth….sometimes animals tend to understand us more than a human….

  • Sean Flowers says:

    I have some honest questions, and I hope they don’t upset anyone…

    Humans are animals, so are bugs, and so are the other types people normally think of when they hear the word “animal.” …If people are for “animal rights,” shouldn’t this include the rights of humans and bugs?

    Lastly, human cruelty saddens me, but I’m also saddened to hear that some have become so jaded by this as to prefer the company of other species to their own kind. This isn’t said to judge, but to sympathize with those who feel this way. You’re right, the way that humans can sometimes act is devastating. But, even though humans are capable of evil, they are also capable of good. Otherwise, PETA and its members wouldn’t exist! I like what Polina wrote: “An animal activist being called a people-hater is just like feminists who were called man-haters because they wanted the same rights. Hopefully people will soon realize that animals are just as deserving of kind treatment as are people” This, and the Abraham Lincoln quote above, really are good and true words. But, I have an honest concern I hope to receive a kind response regarding, please… My concern (and insecurity) is that if astronomically my life were to fall into the hands of an animal activist, and this person had to chose between saving my life and that of a non-human animal, he or she would let me die because of their jadedness toward the human race and on the justification that animals are more innocent and less deserving of death than humans. (I think both deaths would be sad, but I would choose to save another human being. Is it because the human being is of my own species? Is it because humans, far greater than non-human animals, can effect more good? Is it because in saving another human being it might change their life for the better and from that have a ripple effect? Yes.) …But, I don’t want to assume that ALL human activists prefer non-human animals to humans. And, I don’t want to assume that some wouldn’t act the way I would given this horrible dilemma. Certainly I don’t assume that animal activists are people-haters. But, the reason I ask is that I’ve gotten the impression from some of the comments that I might not be able to trust some members of my own species who happen to be animal activists. In truth, I deeply wish to receive affirmation from other human beings that my life is as valuable to them as that of non-human animals, and that maybe it may be even more valuable because of the good that it could possibly effect. …To put a greater value on human life isn’t to devalue non-human animal life, in the same way that devaluing non-human animal life isn’t to value human life.

    I hope to receive kind and thoughtful replies to this, because I tried to be kind and thoughtful. Thank you ahead of time to anyone who obliges.


    Sean Flowers

  • Adopted*Only*Child*666 says:

    After a lifetime spent being nice to people, caring, trying to do the right thing, doing for others, working hard, and in return getting robbed, used, bullied, thrown up for adoption, rejected, belittled, condescended to, denied all opportunities despite being well-educated, having one brick wall after another thrown up in my face, and watching everybody else live their lives, I can say at 44 years old without guilt that I absolutely love animals more than people. I love my German Shepherd – she is my guardian angel. I miss my little Scottie who was by my side for 15 years until he died in my arms, I miss him more than my adoptive father who died around the same time. I guess I’m cruel. The adopted only child is always portrayed as the Antichrist in films; but I was kind once. People can’t treat others like dirt and expect them to maintain any sort of love or enthusiasm for human beings. Animals have always been kind to me. Humans, just plain hateful.

  • Heather says:

    thank goodness to see comments from people who think like me. It can get lonely here in farming/slaughtering/meat-eating Saskatchewan.I am growing weary of humans and their cruelty. I just want to be with animals – my cat and horse are my (and my husband’s)world – all animals innocence and love are such a joy.

  • Danushka karunarathne says:

    We must love the animals…because they are the real owners of the world….

  • Pixie79 says:

    I agree with the author, animals are pure, loving creatures (at least my cats and dogs are!)They have very distinct personalities. Some of my cats are affectionate, some are aloof, I’ve got one whi is always crabby, and one that likes to start trouble just for the fun of it. For people to say they are unintelligent or simple is wrong. Animals are highly intelligent and they have feelings which can be hurt. They know when you are upset or things are off just as a small child can perceive these things.

  • Hiii111 says:

    The reason why animals “forgives” someone for abusing them is because they don’t really understand that they’ve been abused, they know someone might be a danger, but they don’t think like us, so an animal cannot understand abuse inflicted on them like us humans, they are not able to be knowledged enough to understand.

    Animals have no complicated personality and so they can’t be manipulative, dishonest or evil like a human, they can be manipulative, some primates can be, but not like us.

    That’s why animals are basic.