My conclusion: most, but not all, American pets should be euthanized. Not because pets are "sinful" in themselves. The question is not "Are pets bad?" but "Is there anything better we could be doing with the money and time we currently spend on our pets?"
In most cases, I believe the answer is a resounding YES.
There are some cases where pets are clearly necessary. Seeing-eye dogs. K-9 units that catch criminals and sniff for drugs. Guard dogs. Barn cats that keep the mouse population under control. You can, no doubt, expand this list.
But still, the uncomfortable fact remains that most American pets are kept for emotional, not physical reasons. We have them for companionship and diversion.
Think of all the wonderful things that could have been done with the $41.2 billion dollars Americans spent on pets in 2007! How many children could this have fed, clothed, educated, or treated?
It is true that pets make ideal companions and help reduce stress. To many Americans, however, they have become substitutes for human relationships. Human relationships are painful. We sin. Dogs don't. And a dog will never confront you about sin in your life. God uses the pain of conflict in human relationships to sand off the rough edges of our character. A pet may make you a happier person but it will not make you (or your neighbor) a holier person. Which do you want more?
Animals can also help us to marvel at the creativity of God. We should indeed take time to marvel at the intricacies of God's design, which include the cat's retractable claws and the dog's sensitive nose. But there are much less expensive (and might I add, more natural) ways to obtain this wonder than taking food from starving people. If you want to marvel at God's creation, go to the zoo or take a walk in the woods.
So put the pet to sleep. Give the money to the people who really need it. And use the spare time to get to know your neighbor.
"He pled the cause of the afflicted and needy: then it was well. Is not that what it means to know Me?" declares the Lord. (Jeremiah 22:16, NASB)
Am I being too radical? Please write back with your thoughts. My main goal is not to convince you that I am right, but to cause you to consider before God whether you are using your money and time as wisely as you could.
For a wealth of statistics on pet ownership in the US that should sicken any conscience, visit the American Pet Products Association here.