Going over what I wrote last night, I realize I've barely scratched the surface of what I wanted to say. That is what happens when I try to post with the television on and Mark yammering at me. :)
First, I don't know if I made my feelings about my dog clear. I do not think Chance is a person. He is an entirely different species, with completely different needs and capacities. He does not understand logic, he cannot be reasoned with, he has a prey drive, he will never be able to use a toilet...the list goes on and on. But even though I don't think of Chance as human or humanesque, his life is worth as much to me as a human life. Yes, you read that correctly. My dog's life is worth as much to me as a person's life.
I've never gotten involved in the debates about whether "parenting" a pet can be compared to parenting a child, mostly because I don't see what good it does to argue about it, and also because I don't have a child, so I don't think I'm a fair judge of what the similarities and differences between the two are. I also think it's very person-specific: some people do not feel the same way about their companion animals that I do about Chance (some people also don't love their kids). What I can say is this: I am more committed to my dog and love my dog more than I ever would have thought possible. The way I feel about him isn't really comparable to the way I feel about the human beings I am close to, because the relationships are a totally different sort, but if I'm forced to quantify, then I'd say that he is more important to me than most people. That's simply the way it is.
This is why I find the whole topic of breed specific legislation so very troubling. The idea that someone could take Chance away from me--break up my family--just because of generalizations that have been made (wrongly, in my opinion) about his breed(s) is both terrifying and infuriating. And it doesn't have to happen to me to make it wrong--why on earth would I assume that there are no people who love their pit bulls like I love Chance?
A friend of mine just told me that her dog, a half-Pyr, half-Chow, is officially a "Pyr mix." Why? Because she couldn't get home owner's insurance if her dog was listed as a Chow, a dangerous breed. If you can't get home owner's insurance, you can't buy a house. If you can't buy, you have to rent. If you are renting, it's going to be difficult to find somewhere that will let you live with your supposedly dangerous dog. And so you face a choice, basically, between homelessness and getting rid of your dog. That is not a fair position to put people in, especially when the supposed good that comes out of it really amounts to a false sense of safety for ignorant people.