Pets have never been more popular these days. Almost every family has at least one dog or cat. Along with hamsters, rabbits, goldfish and two dozen others, there’s never been such variety available in the pets we choose. Hence this raises the question of what the bible has to say about pets. Do they go to heaven? How should we treat them?
The bible does not really address how we should deal with pets. The only possible example of a pet owner is the poor man in Nathen’s parable a man who “had nothing except one little ewe lamb he had bought. He raised it, and it grew up with him and his children. It shared his food, drank from his cup and even slept in his arms. It was like a daughter to him” . We can though draw some conclusions based on what the bible says on other topics.
God made all the world and all the things in it. As such they all deserve respect. This includes animals as well which should be loved as much as any parts of God’s creation. “The Lord is good to all, and his mercy is over all that he has made. All your works shall give thanks to you, O Lord, and all your saints shall bless you!” (Psalm 145:9-10)
Likewise, all animals deserve our protection. God made us to be the lords over the other animals. As God is our lord and protector so must we be a protector of the animals he has given to us. Those who mistreat animals are abusing that trust and invite god’s malice. “Whoever is righteous has regard for the life of his beast, but the mercy of the wicked is cruel” (Proverbs 12:10)
God’s care for animals explains our desire to keep pets. As God created mankind in his image (Genesis 1:27) we have inherited the part of God’s nature that cares for animals. Whenever we look after our pets we are reflecting a part of God’s nature, to a certain extent. Our pets rely on us to meet their needs, much as we rely on God to provide for our needs. By keeping a pet, we are taking on responsibility and modelling our behaviour on the creator.
Parents should introduce a pet into their home to teach responsibility to their children. It can serve as a lesson on how God takes care of us and, as such, how we must take care of the pets we take in. This reflects on our personal integrity and devotion to living a righteous life. “A righteous man cares for the needs of his animal” (Proverbs 12:10)
Make this your goal and incorporate it into your life as much as any of god’s other teachings. It is the meek that shall inherit the earth so show that attitude when caring for those in our protection.