Pets are popular, without a doubt. Many families, including newly married couples, opt to have some type of animal and consider it family. This includes dogs, cats, fish, hamsters, birds, and even tinier creatures like hermit crabs. For some reason, we love to have animals. Personally, I have had a cat since I was 11 or 12 (currently I am 23). They become a part of your family, so much so that when they die a grieving process comes with it. The Bible doesn’t specifically talk about having a pet or caring for certain animals, but there are some principles and a few verses that certainly shed some light on how we are to treat animals. After all, they are a part of God’s creation—so we’re obviously not supposed to mistreat them! So, what does the bible say about caring for animals?
In the book of Genesis, it’s told that God created man and woman, along with all of creation, including animals. After doing so, God spoke to man and gave him a command in Genesis 1:28, “Then God blessed them, and God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply; fill the earth and subdue it; have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over every living thing that moves on the earth.” This dominion does not mean that we can do whatever we want with the animals, however. We are to care for them as a part of God’s creation. It would be irresponsible for any Christian to harm or mistreat an animal, since God created them and gave them into our hands.
God is the Great Caretaker
It is also said in the book of Genesis that man (and woman) is made in God’s image. In other words, we share some characteristics that he has, yet on a lesser scale. It is possible that this includes the love for animals and the ability to care for them. For example, Psalm 147:9 says “He gives to the beast its food, And to the young ravens that cry.” It is certainly clear that God cares for his creation—including all of the animals! It is this same attitude towards animals that all of us should have if we are to properly represent God.
It’s my own personal opinion that the way a person treats their animal, or another person’s, speaks volumes as to their personal integrity. Now, this does not mean those who dislike animals are morally repugnant. Rather, what I do mean is that those people who mistreat their animals through abandonment, intentionally hurting them, or neglect have some serious moral problems. In fact, the Bible hints at this in the book of Proverbs, too. And, it’s the only verse that I have come across that may be the most applicable to taking care of pets. Proverbs 12:10 proclaims: “A righteous man regards the life of his animal, but the tender mercies of the wicked are cruel.” It really doesn’t get much clearer than that! A person that is truly godly and righteous will take good care of his animal, just as God would. In return, animals can often take care of us, as well, though certainly in different ways. Besides service dogs, many animals can be used for companionship, protection, and even support mental health, which is why some animals are taken to hospitals and nursing homes. They are certainly good at comforting people in need!
Animals are amazing creatures and part of everything that God created. As such, they should be treated with diligent care and never harmed by their owners. It’s sickening to think that there are people who use animals to fight for profit (such as the Michael Vick case a few years back), and others that leave their animals on the side of the road when they cannot afford them anymore. Such actions are never condoned by the Bible. In fact, the Bible would suggest the very opposite treatment! As a person with experience owning a pet, I can attest to the fact that, if treated well, pets and animals alike can provide comfort, joy, amusement, and a host of other things. Those animals that cannot be pets, such as sharks, should still be treated well and never intentionally harmed for the fun of it. God gave the animals into our hands, we should make Him proud by caring for them diligently.