Socialites or celebrities with little dogs under their arms or in totes -- everyone has seen them. Models posing with fluffy cats or dogs. And L. L. Bean catalogs that often seem to feature more appealing puppies than clothes or gear.
All these are examples of animals being used as props, reflecting a human need, not an animal need. What dog wants to be trucked along Fifth Avenue in a carry bag? Or clutched by a model whose attention is really on showing her own assets and what she's wearing? Or displayed on flannel sheets for sale, and then it's back to the kennel?
Earlier this week, another example of animals as props turned up in New York City: animals with beggars on the street. A homeless man sat in a doorway with a tabby lying next to him. The cat was partly covered by a small blanket or sweater. Another man (without an involuntary animal companion) had a sign telling passersby: I care for five cats. Homeless. AIDs.
If people donated to either man, were they prompted to do so because of the animals, either present or mentioned? Wasn't there a suggestion that financial aid would also help the animals? Which was the bigger motivating force -- the plight of either man (which at some point may have been voluntary) or that of the animals, which was never their choice?
Animals as props. Or hostages.