A mother of three has sparked controversy by saying that referring to pets as “fur babies” is disrespectful to mothers. This term, which the Cambridge Dictionary describes as a loving nickname for a pet, has been met with backlash from the woman, leading to a surge of online reactions and comments.
More people are viewing their pets as family members rather than just animals. Forbes states that 85% of dog owners and 76% of cat owners regard their pets as part of the family. In fact, spending on pets in the U.S. rose to $136.8 billion in 2022, an increase from $123.6 billion the previous year. A study involving 2,000 cat and dog owners revealed that 81% treat their pets like humans, and 71% often prioritize their pets’ needs over their own.
A study conducted for Chewy revealed that 47% of participants address their pets as “baby”, while one in three identify themselves as their pet’s “mom or dad”. However, Elizabeth Broadbent finds this terminology offensive to parents. In summer 2022, she penned an article for an online magazine, requesting pet owners to refrain from using the term “fur babies”.
A mother of three, who also owns two dogs, is firm in her belief that children and pets are distinct. She states, “…But never did we call those beloved canines “furkids” or “furbabies”. Because the last I checked, dogs ain’t people.” She emphasizes, “Your puppy is not your child, so stop saying that he is. I have three children now, and I know this for certain–kids and dogs are not the same.”
Social media users had strong reactions to the mother’s Facebook post, with many disagreeing with her stance. One user commented, “She has too much time on her hands… I have two children and I love my fur baby.” Another humorously pointed out, “she is absolutely right, they are not the same, which is why dogs are furbabies, children are skinpuppies and kids are baby goats.”
Another user voiced their opinion, stating, “Dogs who we love are like babies with fur they are the most loyal of all beings if treated with love…this lady knows nothing to make this sad request to others …it’s a free world.” Broadbent highlighted the differences between preparing a home for a child and a pet. She mentioned that babyproofing her house involved removing “strangulation hazards,” hiding “cleaning fluids” and placing “safety locks on all the cabin”. On the other hand, to puppy-proof her home, she simply removed chewable items, got rid of toxic plants, and provided suitable chew toys.
The American Kennel Club suggests that Broadbent overlooked several essential pet-proofing steps, which include:
- Removing or securing all potential chewing hazards such as cords, plants, food, and medications.
- Safely storing cleaning supplies away from pets.
- Using childproof latches to secure cupboards.
- Raising blinds to prevent strangulation risks for pets.
Broadbent emphasizes the gravity of pet ownership, stating it’s a lifelong commitment only to be taken by those genuinely dedicated to the well-being of the animal. However, she also believes pets require less attention compared to kids, pointing out, “You’re stuck with your dog…except you’re not because you can leave. Before my husband and I had kids, we traveled all the time–dropped the pups by the doggie spa, paid extra for playground time, and hopped the plane guilt-free.” Broadbent is among the 60% of individuals who don’t factor in their pets when planning vacations.
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Only 40% of people say their pets play a role in their travel decisions. Yet, a notable 62% express a desire to take their pets with them either “all of the time” or “most of the time” when they travel. Dr. Katy Nelson, a senior veterinarian at Chewy, remarks, “Pets have become our whole world, so it’s no surprise to see them claim their rightful place of prominence in the household.”
Broadbent’s views on “fur babies” have drawn criticism from many online users who feel differently about their pets.
One individual shares, “So, I have two daughters and a fur baby. My daughters call the fur baby their little brother. My husband and I call him our son. He knows each of us by name. If my husband tells him to go to Mommy, he’s immediately at my feet. Some people cannot accept that these ‘fur babies’ are a part of our family.” The post continues, “They are loved, and they love us back fiercely and unconditionally. I personally feel sorry for people who never experienced the unconditional love of a dog. Maybe then, they would understand ‘fur babies.’”
Another commenter chimes in with a touch of humor, “She’s absolutely right, they are not the same. Animals are generally more polite and nicer to be around than some kids these days.”
Broadbent’s opinion has clearly struck a chord, with nearly 16,000 comments posted in response. However, only a few seem to “I agree with her… they are pets…animals…not darling children.” This statement alone sparked hundreds of counter-responses.
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A dissenting voice replies, “Why can’t they all be darling? I treat my fur baby as I would want to be treated. I show my son that same love and respect. I have enough love to go around!”
Another adds to the sentiment, “Totally agree with you! My fur babies are more behaved than some “darling” children as well!!”
A passionate pet enthusiast shares, “My dogs, cats and whatever else I have as a family can be my “babies” whether they have fur, feathers, skin or scales. Each of them have a special place in my heart and life that gives them a loving title of my choosing. So don’t offend me with your tiny little closed mind, and crawl back under your rock.”
It’s wonderful to see how many people cherish their pets! Animals, in all their innocence and sweetness, surely deserve all the love and care their human guardians can provide.
You’re free to call your pet whatever you choose. Your household, your rules, and your family dynamic shouldn’t be swayed by others.
Do you have thoughts on this mother’s view on fur babies? Share this story and let’s hear from more people!