I’ve been in New York City and Los Angeles recently, seeing humans and other animals hanging out in parks and at street side cafés, jumping into cabs or entering houses or apartment buildings and living together in these largely concrete urban environments. The animals connect and commiserate with each other, which often inspires humans to do the same. The animals, mainly dogs, are clearly people’s friends and companions, and for the most part, both human and nonhuman animals appear to have adapted to living on unnatural paved ground amid concrete, metal, and glass skyscrapers.
Companion animals living in the city enrich our lives. They are loved and cherished even though they don’t get a chance to run freely in the countryside. Of course, farm animals live in rural areas, but they are confined in factory farms unable to run freely or exercise, or even to enjoy fresh air. Nor do most farm animals experience human kindness. They are abused and denigrated out of public view, and their flesh is consumed mindlessly out of habit, often by the same people who love their cats and dogs.
Seeing companion animals with their human wards at quaint street side cafés in cities engenders a feeling of peace and interconnectedness between human and nonhuman animals. Both appear comfortable and contented. But, unfortunately, the respect and camaraderie these particular animals enjoy is denied to billions of others whose suffering is ignored. I’m reminded of Farm Sanctuary’s first bumper sticker, which read “If you love animals called pets, why do you eat animals called dinner?”