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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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  • Kelly says:

    I have a love for animals that I have yet to experience that love with any person. I have been with my husband for four years and I love him dearly, but not the way I love animals. I was at the beach last night and I had just gotten food and there was a raccoon digging in a trash can. I gave him the food that I brought. He wouldn’t stop following me for more though. I loved it! He came right up to me. Animals are so innocent. Some are defenseless. Humans aren’t. Humans lie, cheat, steal, some kill, do horrendous crimes, a lot are sick people. I literally cannot wrap my mind around how someone can look at an animal and want to harm it. Whenever I see an animal, I want to help it, play with it, not harm them. I’m truly happy to see there are so many animal lovers out there. If only everyone was, it’d be a much better world to live in.

  • Anne says:

    I’ve been an animal lovers since I can remember…I am now 33 & it is a good few years now that I feel more confortable with animals (any kind) than humans.
    I feel at ease, relax, I am genuinely happy when with them. I tend to feel depressed around humans (dont know why).
    I have 2 cats & I am helping each weekend at the stables, where we have cats, dogs, horses (obviously 🙂 )

    All without exception are just so happy to see me when I arrive…the c ats come directly to my car (well more in my car, maybe checking for a treat), the dogs just run at me & I can see the smile ontheir faces, & the same with the horses…I just call them & they come to me, put their head on my chest, push me around a bit (gently of course)…
    I talk to them probably even more than I would talk to humans.

    This is priceless to me, & I always have a tear when it’s time to go.

    You should see the boots of my car…I found a starving dog one day, & I had nothing to give her…since I have dog & cat food, carrots, apple, just in case

    I cant kill any living beings…I would put a spider or mouse out for example; I am the same with plants….always take in plant people dont want because dying or something, I always try to save them; I dont always manage …& I always have a tear if not.

    Sometimes (not for long though) I wonder if something is wrong with me..I really dont spend much time with humans (less & less to be honest) & feel maybe I should.

    Maybe is it because animals never hurt me.

  • RUTH SMITH says:

    I hate any kind of cruely,mistreatment,abuse or suffering of any living thing whether animal or human.
    In a perfect world we would all live in harmony… “To live and let live” it`s the biggest sin ever TO KILL !! why do many people think its acceptable to inflict cruelty on others…there is no place for these kind of humans on our the future, history will look back on these STILL CRUEL times, and say WHY did we let it happen?

  • love animals says:

    If you had to choose between people or animals in thirty seconds what would you choose? Thats what i always ask my friends and i would always choose animals. I am thirteen and i became a vegetarian about nine months ago. my parents dont like it but i always tell them its my life you cant do anything about it and i will live it the way i want to.

  • Polina says:

    An animal activist being called a people-hater is just like feminists who were called man-haters just because they wanted the same rights. Hopefully people will soon realize that animals are just as deserving of kind treatment as are people.

  • becky tobuscus jones says:

    to be honest if i had the choice, i would rarther kill a human than an animal! i always get called a wierdo because i love animals way much more than people! i think to be honest just go back to hunting our own food, taking care of only ourselfs, the world would be less cruel and a more even balance would form. im sick of people treating animals like they are a toy or an unemotional object that has no feelings or pain! anyone know where the people live who hurt animals for fun… i got a gun loaded lol. when i say stop to see if i can help the fox or bird on the road people say it’s only a bird just leave it. i get so mad!

  • Ginny Walter says:

    I must respectfully disagree with Wendy that we need animals for our food. There are so many healthy and tasty protein sources. I am a vegetarian. I am learning to be totally vegan. Soy protein can be prepared in many tasteful and healthy ways. I am a person of personal spiritual faith in a LOVING God who created a menu of vegetables and fruits, ie the eden diet. Whether or not you are a person of faith, tho, it is obvious that humans do not need to slaughter animals for food and clothing…leather etc. We have so many great synthetic fabrics available. Lets leave hides on animals and their meat on their own bones. Lets be their voice.

  • Heather says:

    Carol, the only hope for the animals welfare lies with us humans not God. What is God doing to help these poor abused creatures? Not believing in God or believing in God makes no difference to the suffering of animals, we humans alone are the only ones who are going to help them in this life time.

  • Heather von der Borch says:

    There is no proof there is a god and never will be, but there is proof of what is happening in our world today. The torture, the abuse, the horror of what us humans do to the beautiful creatures of this earth is obvious and unforgivable. WE are all the animals have and we are the ones who have to stop the cruelty where ever we can, not a god, not karma, US.

  • letate says:

    I’m responding to more than one comment, below, regarding ‘God’, Darwin and animals. I’d like to point out that Judeo/Christian/Muslim beliefs have permitted humans to exploit and abuse non-human animals for centuries. The tenet that, ‘God gave us dominion over all things’ has been the excuse for reprehensible and abominable behaviour towards other living things, be they animals or plants. We do not have dominion over anything. Every species and every individual has the right to survive and thrive – and not because it benefits humans but because it exists.

  • Wendy Tan says:

    God loves us human being unconditionally, I believe He wants us to love animals unconditionally too.

    God has set a perfect example for us, and animals for many thousand years, have died because of us, we need them for our daily food.

    Animals should be treated with respect just like human beings.

    How we are going to stop eating meat totally, we really need POWER FROM ON HIGH, the ETERNAL GOD who has died for each one of us.

    GOD has put animals in my care, not that I wanted it in my own plan, and I began to learn much things about animals, they are just like us with feelings, they needed friends and love and they are created as part of GOD’s plan.

    If we start to love animals, it is the sign that we have reverence to GOD.

    May GOD in heaven have mercy on all of us and on all animals.

    It’s just my sharing of my faith.

  • Maria says:

    I agree with the subject . People are sick ! The poor animals are so innocent and their love for us are unconditional , very different from the ” human being ” . Congratulations to the author !

  • Alexandra says:

    In many ways I prefer animals to people. I feel that people judge and criticize you for pretty much everything. In a way, I guess we humans are too complicated for our own good and yet not advanced enough to take it to the next level. But, humans are animals too – something many people tend to forget. And animal species can be extremely different from one another; a lot of species have evolved to be selfish (which individuals can also learn to be). Though, a human being is actually a relatively kind/altruistic sort of animal, otherwise we never would have gotten this far. Most people react strongly in a negative way if they see another person getting hurt. The one thing that truly differentiates us from other animals as a whole might be how we are able to communicate. Unfortunately, if any other species would evolve the same kind of communicative abilities, they would probably become pretty judgmental too, and they would no longer be considered “animals” in the sense that we talk about them here. I personally love those more that I feel closer to “spiritually”; whether it be a human, cat, horse or whatever.

  • annie says:

    I love animals more.

  • chander kumar soni says:

    great inspiring article.

  • Carol says:

    Too bad this person, with such concern and love for animals, had to ‘share’, in the same article, their evolutionary beliefs as well. Darwinism has never and will never change the odious and malevolent people whereby, cruelty to animals is highly displayed all over the world. I think he/she should reconsider that ‘leap of faith’ term they also used but, immediately, had to point out they do NOT believe in, and realize – the animals only hope for being treated kindly by man, lies with God not Darwin.

  • Willetta says:


  • jane says:

    This is a very good article. I agree with most of what was said here. The only difference for me is that I use the word faith a lot and I believe that our companion animals are our guides and gifts given to us by God to see us through this place we call earth. It is a harsh place most of the time and people let us down over and over – and in our own human nature – we let others down too. The human species can be a very dangerous and evil life form and the way many of us treat animals on every level is evil. Food animals suffer horribly and research animals never even get to feel the sun or see the sky or touch the earth. Stop Eating Meat! Put these savages out of business.

  • Irene Karaitou says:

    This is an amazing article.I’d go for the dogs or cats too.I have three cats living with me right now and I can’t remember a time in my life,when I didn’t have someone with me,nomatter who that was(a dog,a cat or even a parakeet).They are my oxygen and the reason I tolerate human behaviour(deceit,lies,betrayal,dishonesty,etc).Yes,they make me a better person with all their unconditional love and blind trust,support and consolation(my cat would leak the tears off my face when I cry and never leave my side when I am sick or just sad!No human has ever done this for me!)So yes,I prefer being around animals than humans.If that makes me an extra terestrial,as some of my friends often call me,then so be it!

  • Lisanne says:

    I’ll never ever have to read about animals raping,robbing,torturing/killing humans; but that’s mainly all I read/hear about pertaining to what humans do. Yet animals are treated worse than a serial killer, we have it all mixed up- animals should have the rights that humans have. I don’t know where and how the superiority complex started with us, but it’s a joke.

  • Morgan says:

    I’d like to point out that Abraham Lincoln never said anything about animal rights. Let’s be realistic: in that time, the rights of animals were the the farthest things from people’s minds.

  • Patty Bowers says:

    Loved your article. For me it gets down to the same point each time, animals love UNconditionally, which people are not able to do.

  • Leon Bowsky says:

    Good article. I have written similar passionate explanations of my relationship with my three Chihuahuas. I now clearly choose their company as permanent room mates. I also honor the bridge they give me to the fully natural world. Where love exists as in our human relationships, but the trust and commitment are much deeper.

  • Mirtha Suarez says:


  • Joy says:

    I quite simply believe that my eyes have been opened wide to the very basic rights an animal should have, and the way in which we treat them. It is disturbing and unforgiving to see and hear what we have become, by not standing up for these loving animals. I was introuduced to animals as a small baby, and my love of them and devotion to them has rewarded me with the most simple yet gracious gifts and memories I could ever ask for. Compassion to all, and love to my fur friends.

  • Lin says:

    I love this article and it expresses my feelings for my animals.
    People come and go in my life and my animal friends stay with me until that dreaded day when they depart this earth. I always try to give my little Lhasa extra comfort as she has gone through the loss of 2 other doggies and now, a move. Taking her in the car to the drive-thru at the bank, the post office drop off, dropping off books at the library, etc. I love this special time with her and seeing her so happy. Good luck – you will be an excellent vet.

  • Molly says:

    Dear PeTA,
    I have a question for you. I am a 12 year old girl and I am making a PeTA journal for a competition, you have made some wondurful articles and reasons. When you wrote about the animals used for food and clothing- I was wondering if I could some of the words in the same context? Like all the facts about the abuse.
    P.S Thanks for being awesome and you are my role model!

  • Kate Kenner says:

    I love my daughter with all my heart. Aside from her,yes , I do love animals more than people. I would say that my animals and my daughter are equally loved. I am not terribly tolerant of the humans in the world in general. There are many I like on an individual basis but I spend most of my time without socializing and worry much more about the animals in the world than I do people.

  • kris says:

    An excellent article. It offers an explanation that doesn’t need apologies.

  • Mel Beasley says:

    I’ve yet to find an Islamic cat or dog who want to kill me because I don’t believe in their god, or an animal version of a politician (Including venemous snakes)Give me my dogs over prople anytime.

  • Dianne Rochenski says:

    Great article. I get asked that question a lot. Do you like animals better than humans? My answer is YES I do. I feel that animals are equal to humans, but only certain humans. I care about animals, children, people who are abused and the poor. The people that I don’t want to have around me are the selfish, arrogant, power hungry and those who do not care about ALL animal rights. I’m friendly with people who are not vegans/vegetarians and those not in animal rights because they are GOOD people. A lot of good people do not realize the horrors of factory farming, fur farms, animal testing etc. I try to educate without pushing. When you all of a sudden GET it is a revelation! There is no going back. Animals and humans are from the same source (God). We are their protectors not their tortures. Too many distractions affect people to the point that I do not want to be associated with them. I’m SO much happier with my rats and trying to spread the word about animal rights.
    Dianne Rochenski

  • tigres1007 says:

    This is a great article and reminds me of a story that I heard once. I don’t know if it is a true story, but I think that the moral of it fits well with this article.

    A veterinarian had been called to examine a ten-year-old Irish Wolfhound named Belker. The dog’s owners, Ron, his wife, Lisa, and their little boy, Shane were all very attached to Belker and they were hoping for a miracle. The doctor examined Belker and found he was dying of cancer. He told the family there were no miracles left for Belker, and offered to perform the euthanasia procedure for the old dog in their home.

    As they made arrangements, Ron and Lisa told the vet they thought it would be good for the four-year-old Shane to observe the procedure. They felt Shane could learn something from the experience.

    The next day, the vet felt the familiar catch in his throat as Belker’s family surrounded him. Shane seemed so calm, petting the old dog for the last time, that the vet wondered if he understood what was going on. Within a few minutes, Belker slipped peacefully away. The little boy seemed to accept Belker’s transition without any difficulty or confusion.

    They all sat together for a while after Belker’s death, wondering aloud about the sad fact that animal lives are shorter than human lives. Shane, who had been listening quietly, piped up, “I know why.”

    Startled, they all turned to him.

    What came out of his mouth next stunned everyone. He said, “Everybody is born so that they can learn how to live a good life — like loving everybody and being nice, right?” The four-year-old continued, “Well, animals already know how to do that, so they don’t have to stay as long.”

    Sometimes it seems like the only reason my little fur babies are here and not in heaven is so that they can teach me to be more loving. Maybe if people were more loving and compassionate, we would get to go to heaven sooner too.

  • Norma Campbell says:

    To me its a silly question, of course we love animals over humans, but the only reason I would rescue a human baby first is so someone does accuse me of homicide and then I could continue devoting 90% my life to the animals

  • Bemis says:

    I enjoy the article, but disagree with a few points…

    My cat “mistreats” mice… he will play with them, throw them around, bat at them… basically torture them until they either escape or die (from fright, exhaustion or him eating them).

    If you were a dog, and you had to spend a year on an island with 10 other dogs… maybe it would be so great? Dog to dog relationships are not the same as human to dog relationships.

    In the case of most human-animal relationships, certainly effectively all where the animal is a companion animal, we should not lose sight that we are always the dominant species.

    I would say that although many human-human interaction issues are caused by the desires, prejudices and other emotional influences of the other human, an equally many amount may be caused, or at least influenced, by “dominance”.

    So the short answer is… I love my companion animals more than strangers… but maybe it’s only because I am dominant over them? Or maybe it’s because my cat is so cute and fuzzy.

  • Marin says:

    I’m definitely one of those people who is more comfortable around animals than other humans. Throughout my life, numerous people (close friends and family) have betrayed me, taken advantage of me, and left me feeling like no matter how hard I try I would never be good enough for anyone. Animals have no reason to hurt those they love and as long as I love and care for them, they love and care for me in return, no question about it. I’d rather have five animal friends than five best friends, that’s for sure.

  • Marie says:

    **Man does not possess two hearts; one for mankind and the other for animals. He either has a heart or he doesn’t**
    Alphonse de Lamartine, writer, poet (1790-1869)

    And so what if I prefer the non-human animal over the human animal? What on Earth could it possibly say about me that is so bad? That I’m a traitor to my own species? Humans have mastered the art of treachery. It does not in any way make me special or peculiar. Animals have all the qualities so brilliantly absent from mankind in general, but none of its nasty faults. I’m no different than anybody. Animals make me a better person. They bring the best out of me. They are a mirror for who I am deeply. If I had to chose, in a dire situation, between a baby or a cat, say, I would chose without prejudice the one that I could most likely save. Be it either. Without remorse, prejudice or guilt.

    Of what I know of animal lovers is, they love just as much children as animals for the two are equaly virtuous, appealing and worthy. It is the callous and savage human adult we so loathe. The arrogance, cruelty, selfishness, carelessness, stupidity, ignorance, heartlessness, greed and sheer savage destructiveness.

    To me, children and animals stand on the same pedestal. It is ultimately a cause I am defending and siding with. The cause of innocence and purity. Without those, the world becomes bleak. And I’ll never understand why everybody is not siding beside me on this issue. What we do to animals, we do unto our children.

  • VL says:

    Hahah! Animals would never ask such a clearly passive aggressive question about who you would save. Just today the delivery person (whom I see regularly) and I remarked how much humans…suck. Since I was a child I’ve preferred animals over humans. I don’t see it as odd, weird or worse…wrong. To be able to connect with someone who is NOT of your species is far more amazing than hanging out with your own kind. Everyone who knows me well, knows the animals get out first! And bless those good humans, they “get it” and love me still.

  • says:

    Well-written. I used to wonder that question too; whom/what matters the most to me; human life or animal. My wife and I are vegans. My dogs and cats have been on the b.a.r.f. (raw) diet for years. I would do anything for either (wife or my animals). However, (and I never thought it would happen to me)I was (one of the few) who was confronted with that issue about 15 years ago.

    I was driving in a rural area and a deer leaped in front of my car (on a two lane highway). I quickly assessed the situation. The road was icy. Clearly I could see a speeding red Ford coming toward me in what appeared to be a family (mother and 3 children). Behind me was a fairly large truck (not full size 18 wheeler, but big enough) that appeared to be trying to go around me. There was no time (or room) to pull off the highway. I sadly hit the deer and still remember it like it was yesterday. Would I make the same decision today? I believe so. It all happened so fast at the time, there wasn’t much time to think it through.

    I don’t think that makes me inhumane. I’ve raised loving sweet dogs and cats (all rescues), and always adopted. My wife and I own no leather or fur products. I could go on and on. And I don’t think that one decision is “the whole picture” of a person who happens to love both people and animals (including wildlife); my wife and I are avid hikers and live on the edge of a National Park.

  • Elsje Massyn says:

    A very well balanced article. I just always wonder why there should be comparisons between love for our animals and love for the humans in our life. Why must there be competition. Why cant both be loved the same – why do some people feel that animals should take the back seat when it comes to rescuing, food, protection, our love. Why do some people feel threatened when people have an equal love for animals & humans. Why must I be asked whether I would first save a human and then an animal and if I choose the animal, feel guilty about my choice. Animals are on this planet to compliment our lives. What is a home without a dog and/or cat. How can a family bring their children up WITHOUT animals, because they as parents feel threatened by animals and then devoid their kids from having the awesome priviledge of experiencing the amazing unconditional love of an animal.

    Animals are God’s way of showing how much HE loves us. If we dont grasp that concept if we dont come to a point of understanding that, we will never understand the heart of God.

  • letate says:

    I really like this article. It’s well-written and expresses not only the writer’s views but mine as well – and eloquently. But there’s no writing credit. Who wrote this article?

  • holland says:

    I missed this article when it appeared in PeTA Prime ( The author is veterinarian Barry Kipperman, who was not credited in this post.

    Dr Kipperman’s piece is well-said. I would much prefer my animals’ vet to be one who loves animals more than people. I have zero compunction in saying I absolutely love animals more than people.

  • sandra says:

    I have never loved a human as much as I love my cats. I have never been so totally devastated at the loss of a human as much as the loss of one of my cats. Probably because I have never been so totally devastated BY one of my cats as I have by a human and have never felt as much love and acceptance from a human as I have from any of my cats.
    Animals over “humans” any day.

  • Cheryl D. says:

    I think one of the biggest reasons why we loves animals so totally has to do with the unconditional love they give us. I have yet to meet any human who doesn’t expect something in return for their conditional love or just attention. Most animals can be trusted whereas most humans can be expected to lie or cheat and occasionally offer very conditional love.

  • Amanda says:

    I disagree. Humans are simply more diverse. Humans are certainly CAPABLE of cruel intentions while other animals are not; however, people usually don’t have cruel intentions. People who do not share my values (including respecting animals) are usually not evil; they are just doing what they were taught. That’s not a reason to hate humans, it’s an opportunity for having an impact.

    I spend a lot of time and effort looking for events and groups who do share my values, and so I have met a lot of people who do, which makes me have a very positive view of humanity. Cynicism makes me sad.

  • True Animal Lover says:

    The article shows what I’ve always believed about “PETA people.” This person has had difficulty in relationships with humans so turns to animals to make up for it. Unfortunately, the animals suffer because they are not meant to take the place of human companionship.
    The author states that animals are never “manipulative, dishonest…” which is true since those are HUMAN qualities. But I doubt the author would be able to honestly confront the realities of the animal world. Animals kill for food. Males kill infants of their own species to promote breeding in females. Some animals kill just for “fun” as shown by the attacks by some dolphins on porpoises.
    Animals are not all cute, cuddly little things that those who lack a human relationship can dress up and treat like a baby (or lover). They are animals. They are not human. They are not “equal.”
    I OWN two dogs. I care for them very well and ensure that their health, exercise, food, and water requirements are met. They have toys and even nap on my bed. I do not, however, pretend that they are anything other than dogs. I would not dishonor them in that way.

  • Angellove says:

    I love this article. Its well written and gets across her thoughts wonderfully. I agree wholeheartedly. They say people are evolving and becoming smarter and more efficient, but it seems with all of the technology and new advancements, people are also becoming more neglectful and heartless. They are forgetting about what life is all about: respecting all living things. Whether it be in a place that kills animals for food, or a home where an animal is invited to live. All animals deserve respect, unfortunately I am starting to feel that not all humans deserve respect.

  • SEP says:

    I don’t know who I’d choose I love animals and especially “my” companion animals. However, I’d need someone to talk to. I think I’d choose the ten dogs. I’d probably be healthier than with humans and not havve to hear the ten people complain about being on an island.

  • Katherine says:

    Is there any author information to go with this article?

  • MB says:

    Most often, I find animals easier to be around than people (with the exception of my family). The biggest difference to me is that animals exude a “what can I do for you?” when most humans have “what can you do for me?” Animals love to please and show unconditional love – sadly, this is not something we would use to describe society today.