, Volume 17, Issue 3, pp 261-274
Date: 15 Jun 2011

Duties to Companion Animals

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Abstract

This paper outlines the moral contours of human relationships with companion animals. The paper details three sources of duties to and regarding companion animals: (1) from the animal’s status as property, (2) from the animal’s position in relationships of care, love, and dependency, and (3) from the animal’s status as a sentient being with a good of its own. These three sources of duties supplement one another and not only differentiate relationships with companion animals from wild animals and other categories of domestic animals such as livestock, but they also overlap to provide moral agents with additional reasons for preventing and avoiding harm to companion animals. The paper concludes that not only do owners and bystanders have direct and indirect duties to protect companion animals from harm, but also that these duties have the potential, in some circumstances, to clash with duties owed to the state and fellow citizens.