Shared Blog Post – What Do Dogs, Cats and Chairs Have in Common? – The Need for a New Legal Definition of Living Property

< Updated 30JUL23 >

Laws on the books about our pets need to be reviewed and updated to reflect their sentience. One of the topics discussed in this article is a study (Blouin 2013) that found those of us with pets fall into one of these three orientations:

  1. A dominionistic relationship where owners have a relatively low regard for their pets, seeing them only for the value they provide; a function such as protection work.
  2. A humanistic orientation whereby owners elevate their pets to a status, such as surrogate human. The pets are valued for the benefits they provide to their owners resulting from a close relationship and attachment.
  3. A protectionist orientation where owners have a very high regard for their pets and, in fact, all animals in general. Pets are viewed as highly valuable companions and are creatures with their own interests.

I firmly believe that most of us who share our lives with a pet fall within category 2 or 3. Yet, in most legal jurisdictions in the USA, pets are considered property, with little or no rights and laws that reflect orientation number 1.

Our pet’s legal status is a complex issue, but the plain and simple truth is our pets deserve better. Mahatma Gandhi said, “The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated.” Based on the current animal laws on the books, The USA is far from great, probably at best a D-.

Which orientation are you; 1, 2, or 3? If you are a 2 or 3, write a letter to your representatives in your state legislature and share the link with this article with them.

Thank you to the writers, Niki Tudge and BARKS from the Guild, for illuminating this injustice.

Read at

Don Hanson lives in Bangor, Maine, where he is the co-owner of the Green Acres Kennel Shop ( and the founder of, an online educational resource for people with dogs and cats. He is a Professional Canine Behavior Consultant (PCBC-A) accredited by the Pet Professional Accreditation Board (PPAB) and a Bach Foundation Registered Animal Practitioner (BFRAP). Don is a member of the Pet Professional Guild (PPG), serving on the Board of Directors and Steering Committee and chairing the Advocacy Division. He is also a founding director of Pet Advocacy International (PIAI). In addition, Don produces and co-hosts The Woof Meow Show podcast, available at, the Apple Podcast app, and this blog. The opinions in this article are those of Don Hanson.

© Donald J. Hanson, All Rights Reserved

Subscribe to this Blog