My philosophy on pets:
God created the natural world to please him and to make us happy and save our souls. Animals are a very important part of this and in my opinion, are one of God’s greatest gifts of nature to us.
We have a responsibility to be good stewards and to treat them with kindness. We may use them in a manner that is respectful to our and their Creator. It is good to use their wool, eat their meat and milk and eggs, utilize them for transportation, conduct necessary research on them, and enjoy their companionship. We are not to treat them as humans.
St. Francis of Assisi kept lambs as pets, mourned the death of a newborn lamb killed by a sow, and saluted flocks as he passed by. He took them to church. He recognized in them the beautiful symbolism of Christ. In His humility he became man and was born in a stable. He could have been born in a palace, but he chose to be laid in a manger and be greeted by shepherds who more than likely brought their sheep with them (or at least a lamb or two). And then He chose to suffer and die to redeem us- the ultimate Good Shepherd and the ultimate sacrificial Lamb. St. Francis’ love of sheep did not in any way detract from his love of God nor his fellow brethren here on earth; rather, it seems to have increased it.
You might want to read St. John Chapter 10, about the Good Shepherd. In it Christ suggests that the shepherd knows each member of his flock intimately- in fact, by name. The sheep respond to his voice and know their names, but will not come to a stranger. And the good shepherd gives his life for his sheep- whereas the hireling flees when the wolf ravages the flock. Everything within here is absolutely true. I have sheep. I love my sheep dearly and while I don’t literally give my life for them, it does take a fair amount of self-sacrifice to nurse them back to health, raise bottle lambs, and watch over ewes when lambing. Few things raise my blood pressure more than to hear of a dog or coyote amongst a flock! I suppose the modern good shepherd may be the one who sits up all night with the shotgun, ready to protect the sheep should the coyote come back.
I probably love and respect my sheep more than most people love their pets, but love is not exhaustive, and I know that they have helped me to better understand Christ’s deep love for us. My love for my sheep doesn’t take away my love for God or anyone else. I think I can love better. I am constantly in awe of the marvelous way He created them!
There is danger in treating a pet like a human being, and I do not like the attitude that a dog or cat is better than another animal, like a sheep. But an approriate love for an animal is not at all wrong. Just my way over-rambled two cents…:o