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Furry Friday: Pets Aren't Kid Substitutes

I don't want kids. Never have. I won't go into the reasons, as it's simply enough to recognize and accept that being a parent isn't for you. To each his or her own, I think the majority of PJ Lifestyle readers have agreed here this week, even if disagreeing with another person's choice.

But I love animals, as you've figured out by now. I mean, to the point where I stopped and watched in fascination a northern brownsnake basking on the sidewalk the other day (he wasn't so sure about me and eventually slowly slithered into the bushes). The animal kingdom is magnificent, and I can't imagine life without pets in it.

Pets are not substitutes for kids, and I don't know anyone who views them this way. They are their own distinct beings with own distinct personalities and behaviors. I do often, however, hear and completely understand statements like what one higher-up at AEI would gush every time I brought the puppacita into the office: "I don't like people, but I sure like dogs!" Having been a criminology major in college and covering the crime beat as a reporter makes one appreciate all the more these bundles of fur and feathers that won't grow up into serial killers. The political beat doesn't reveal much different in terms of human nature, frankly, which is probably why an increasing number of lawmakers now bring their dogs to the office to get through the day (stay tuned to future Furry Fridays for profiles).

But there's little to stop the dark side of humanity from inflicting itself on the animal world. It tears my heart out when I hear stories of animals being abused or neglected, and punishments for those crimes should be about tenfold what they are now.