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Evolution in the debate about our treatment of animal companions

A new book "Citizen Canine: Our Evolving Relationship with Cats and Dogs" by author and science journalist David Grimm explores how the roles of pets have evolved from wild animals to family members.


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Here's more from CBS News,

Today, there are animal anti-cruelty laws in all 50 U.S. states, with penalties that include fines or prison time. Custody battles have been waged over family pets, and emotional-distress damages have been awarded for harm to a pet. Dogs and cats can even inherit money, Grimm said. But they're still considered property, "no different from a toaster in the eyes of the law," he said.

Now, a growing effort seeks to grant personhood to animals, including cats and dogs. Driving this movement is an increasing awareness of animal intelligence and their emotional capabilities.

Research on the canine mind has exploded in recent years, Grimm said. Dogs can understand pointing, an ability that chimpanzees lack, and research also suggests dogs are capable of empathy, and perhaps even abstract thought.

What do you think about the notion of personhood for animals? Will this help prevent animal abuse? Will this reduce or eliminate the homeless pet population? 


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