Pet ownership is based on human supremacy. While 90 percent of pet owners may consider their pets as members of their families, this is in spite of the fact that these pets are abductees from another species. Implicit in the inclusion of pets in a human family is an acceptance of human supremacy that rests on the belief that humans can take better care of the other animals we keep as pets than those other animals' own species can.
This relationship of human supremacy is reinforced by the emphasis placed on reproductive sterilization by many nonhuman animal advocates. The subtext of this sterilization is that other animals are incapable of caring for their young. Sterilization is presented as the solution that assumes the problem is "homeless pets." Here "homeless" means the lack of a human's home, which reinforces the belief that these other animals are incapable of caring for themselves. Thus "adoption" into a human household is seen as essential to welfare of these other animals.
"Adoption" is a problematic term that obscures human supremacy and the exploitation of other animals as pets. The relationship of pet owners to their pets is one of abduction, not adoption. All pets, whether bought from a pet store, breeder, rescues, shelter, or acquired as strays share a history of abduction that is rooted in consumption. Pet stores and breeders are the most obvious cases of abduction, and could hardly be described otherwise. Rescues and shelters are more likely to use the term "adoption," but pets obtained from these sources are also abductees forces to live as dependents in human households.
There are different types of "rescues," most, however, are breed specific and are often collaborative in the consumption/abduction process. Shelters tend to be less collaborative, but are no less complicit in the consumption/abduction process. As such, rescues tend to be more supportive of breeding while shelters tend to be more supportive of sterilization, yet both continue to see pets as commodities and seek to place these other animals in human homes.
The practice of killing pets in shelters is part of the process of consumption/abduction. After all, it is the "least adoptable" pets who are killed off to make room for the "most adoptable." What this denotes is a hierarchy that assigns value to other animals in the shelter system according to the dictates of consumption. This hierarchy is also reflected in the rescues that focus on maintaining the "breed," which is also based on consumptive standards.
Rather than seeing the human relationship to other animals kept as pets as based on human supremacy and exploitation, nearly all parties blame the pets' own reproduction and biology as the problem. Thus the discussion resolves around "responsible breeding" and having pets "spayed and neutered." The consumption/abduction of these other animals goes unquestioned. Instead, this consumption/abduction is portrayed as a positive relationship and an example of the moral status of other animals.