Sunday, November 14, 2010


While we're on the topic of words, I would like to state that I hate the use of the word "it" when it applies to an animal.  When I talk about my animals, I always use the same pronouns that I would use for a person of the same gender.  He, she, him, her.   I find myself cringing, and sometimes even bristling, when people persist in calling my animals an "it" even when I have taken pains to introduce them by name, and to refer to said animal as "him" or "her."  "It" refers to a can of soup or a lampshade, not a treasured pet.

What got me started on this?  I had to call the emergency vet the other day (no, no emergencies, no worries!) but they are the ones that treat Charlotte for her heart condition, and I had a question about the medication.  The receptionist continued to call Charlotte an "it" throughout the entire conversation, which, quite frankly, pissed me off.  I tend to write it off when some joe on the street calls Argos an it, because who knows, they might not be an animal person, they might not realize what gender he is.  But someone working for a veterinarian's office?  C'mon.  It's not like the name Charlotte makes the cat's gender unclear.  Anyone who works with animals should feel enough empathy for them to grant them a status above that of a THING.

Because really, there are only two types of instance when I myself will call an animal an "it."  The first is if I'm not certain of the gender.  Using a sentence like, "Oh, I like your dog.  Does he or she like other dogs?" DOES sound kind of awkward.  So if I can't tell by quick observation, "it" will suffice, that is, until the person walking the dog gives me some clue about the animal's gender.

The other is if I'm talking about an animal in the generic sense.  "If you have a cat, please keep it in the house."  Again, saying "Please keep him or her in the house" sounds awkward.  It even sounds awkward when we're forced to throw that into a sentence about humans, and even moreso with animals.

Maybe I'm making a mountain out of a molehill.   But I don't think so.  When we relegate a living creature to a "thing," then it matters less how we treat him or her.  (C'mon, in a post like this, like I'm going to refer to an animal as an "it.")  Things don't have rights, and if an animal doesn't have any expectation of having any rights at all, then it's okay for the Michael Vicks and Mary Bales of the world to abuse animals in any way that they see fit, for profit or for kicks.


  1. I agree with you - you're not making a mountain out of a molehill. That's just rude, and people working at a vet clinic, especially an emergency vet clinic, should know better.

    When I'm not sure about the gender I usually give up proper grammar and say things like, "I like your dog, are they friendly?" or, "If you have a cat, keep them in the house." I do occasionally try to guess gender because since so many names could be for males or females (even Casey, my lab has one of those names), but people usually don't get that offended.

    To prove that "it" is an impolite way to phrase it, try calling someones child an "it" and see what happens. Such as, "Could you tell it to stop jumping at my dog?" or "Could you control it a little better, please?"

  2. Agree with your post. All life is precious.

  3. I agree with you, and it would have had me grinding my teeth. I would expect much different from a person working at a vet clinic. I'd have been really tempted to say something!

  4. I completely agree. The few times I've caught myself doing it I've had to mentally shake myself. Animals are not "it"s any more than people are. A receptionist at a vet clinic really should know better.

  5. i totally agree! you always want an animal caretaker to love animals and not refer to him or her as an IT! terrible, an animal is not a thing.

  6. I agree too! Although I have a friend with a girl dog named Charlie. I even thought she was a he for a couple weeks! They also have a girl cat named Jack Jack. Kids pick funny names!P.S. I'm having a giveaway on my blog
    I hope you enter!

  7. I agree! I am not an it! I am an Opie!

  8. My mom person & I totally agree with you.

    Nubbin wiggles,