Throughout history and across cultures animal companions have played an important role for humans. Science has established the sociobiological basis for interspecies interaction, affectivity and attachment. In modern Western societies, pet keeping is a ubiquitous phenomenon. However, against the backdrop of a public discourse of animal love one has to question what this friendship actually means and what consequences it has for companion and other animals. In this article, we want to scrutinize from a critical social science and humanities perspective the role of animals from antiquity to postmodernity. We conclude that anthropocentrism and speciesism permeate the relationship between humans and their animal companions, which leads to far reaching ethical implications and demands.
Keywords: petkeeping, companion animals, anthropocentrism, ethics