The purpose of this article is to highlight the importance of pets in every part of our daily life.
Dogs were the first species to be domesticated [Yılmaz 2007aYılmaz, O. (2007a). Some morphological characteristics of kangal dogs raised in various parts of Turkey. Institute of Science and Technology (Unpublished PhD thesis). Ankara University, Ankara. Google Scholar, Yılmaz 2007bYılmaz, O. (2007b). Turkish Kangal (Karabash) Shepherd Dog (In English). Impress Printhouse: Ankara. Google Scholar]. The present day inhabitants of modern Turkey arrived in the country with the expansion of the Turkic Empire out from Central Asia in the middle of the eleventh century. They travelled with their herds and flocks and with the guard dogs that protected these animals and hunting dogs that assisted in the search for food [Yılmaz and Ertuğrul 2012aYılmaz, O., Ertuğrul, M. (2012a). Determination of Akbash shepherd dog raised in Turkey. Bitlis Eren University Journal of Science and Technology, 2(1), 6–9. https://doi.org/10.17678/beuscitech.47144, Yılmaz and Ertuğrul 2012cYılmaz, O., Ertuğrul, M. (2012c). Some morphological characteristics of the Tarsus Fork-nose dog in Turkey. Bulgarian Journal of Agricultural Science, 18(1), 111–115. Google Scholar]. In the one thousand years since the Turkish arrival in Asia Minor and Thrace several dog breeds have developed. Whilst Turkish hunting dogs are analogous with those of much of Europe the “shepherd” dogs of Turkey are guard dogs bred for and trained to protect the flocks and not to control the sheep. The common features of guardian dogs in this group are to become a large and powerful dog having whitish coat generally [Yılmaz and Ertuğrul 2012bYılmaz, O., Ertuğrul, M. (2012b). Determination of the Rize Koyun (sheep) dog in Turkey. Canadian Journal of Applied Sciences, 2, 216–221. Google Scholar, Yılmaz and Ertuğrul 2012dYılmaz, O., Ertuğrul, M. (2012d). Turkiye Yerli Kopek Irk ve Tipleri. J. Inst. Sci. Technol. Igdir University, 2(1), 99–106 [in Turkish]. Google Scholar].
A group of scientists found a “kurgan” dated 3000 BP in northeast of Anatolia. In the kurgan there were buried human, horse and dog all together in the same grave. Scientists claimed that this burial tradition style was applied by Central Asian Turks which demonstrated that Turks were in Anatolia 3000 years ago, not came 1000 years ago [Yılmaz and Ertuğrul 2011Yılmaz, O., Ertuğrul, M. (2011). Spread story of Kangal (Karabash) shepherd dogs in the world. J. Inst. Sci. Technol., 1(3), 116–120. Google Scholar, Yılmaz and Wilson 2012Yılmaz, O., Wilson, R.T. (2012). The Domestic Livestock Resources of Turkey: Economic and Social Role, Species and Breeds, Conservation Measures and Policy Issues. Livest. Res. Rural Dev., 24(9), 157. Google Scholar, Yılmaz et al. 2012Yılmaz, O., Ertuğrul, M., Wilson, R.T. (2012). The domestic livestock resources of Turkey: breed descriptions and status of guard and hunting dogs [Paper presention]. 63rd Annual Meeting of the EAAP, August 27-31 2012 Bratislava, Slovakia. Google Scholar]. This showed that sometimes an animal evidence can contribute to the human sciences.
Nowadays, we can say that the interaction between humans and wild animals in nature and domestic animals raised close to humans has a significant impact on social life [Yılmaz 2007aYılmaz, O. (2007a). Some morphological characteristics of kangal dogs raised in various parts of Turkey. Institute of Science and Technology (Unpublished PhD thesis). Ankara University, Ankara. Google Scholar].
The bond between animals and humans has continued to exist, changing in size and quality, from the beginning of humanity to the present. In the early ages, the simple approach of hunting its food and protecting it from predators left its place to economic gains and social sharing with the domestication of the dog for the first time. The meanings attributed to animals in the historical process, the definitions made with a human-oriented approach, have been the determinants of the attitude and point of view towards animals [DeGrazia 2006DeGrazia, D. (2006). Hayvan Hakları (51 b.). (H. Gür, Çev.) Ankara: Dost Kitabevi Yayınları, Kültür Kitaplığı [in Turkish]. Google Scholar].
'Domestication' of animals has been accepted as an important stage in the transition of societies from the hunter-gatherer stage to the agricultural stage. The domestication of animals has increased the rate of human use of natural energy resources in the agricultural society and has prepared the society for a settled life by diversifying the use of energy resources [Yazgan 2010Yazgan, Ü.Ç. (2010). Tarihi Süreçte Toplum-Çevre İlişkileri ve Çevre Sorunlarının Ortaya Çıkışı. EJournal of New World Sciences Academy, 5/2, 227–244 [in Turkish]. Google Scholar]. With the transition of humans from nomadism to settled life, we can say that the instincts to control and own animals have emerged, and at the same time, they have developed the desire to own land. Again, the animals have been the biggest helpers in the realization of the settled life. In addition to their efficiency such as food, clothing, transportation, transportation, mounts and combat vehicles, and protection, the labour force of animals was used to cultivate the occupied territories. Over time, the perception of animals has expanded, and classifications such as animals used as food, animals used for power, animals made of wool, or pet animals have emerged [Çetin 2017Çetin, E. (2017). Tüketim Toplumunda Evcil Hayvanların Sahiplenilmesi: Sosyolojik Bir Analiz. SAD / JSR Sosyoloji Araştırmaları Dergisi / Journal of Sociological Research, 20/2, 89–107 [in Turkish]. https://doi.org/10.18490/sosars.345507].
In a study by a group of scientists, it was examined how individuals living in rural and urban areas define domestic animals. Looking at the class differences, especially by farmers, dogs are seen as both pets and helpers, while cats are expressed as a kind of parasite. However, in the same study, it was seen that other professionals living in the city accepted both animal species as pets [Doures et al. 2009Doures, M., Conty, M.J., More, S.J. (2009). Demography of the Pet Dog and Cat Population on the Island of Ireland and Human Factors Influencing Pet Ownership. Preventive Veterinary Medicine, 92, 140–149. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.prevetmed.2009.07.005].
Pets serve as a link between human civilization and nature. However, this bond is flexible and is characterized as social and cultural, depending on whether it is harmful or beneficial to other animals and their owners [Tuan 2004Tuan, Y. F. (2004). Dominance and Affection, The Making of Pets. Yale Universty Press. Google Scholar]. The domestication of animals is an important starting point in the interaction between humans and animals. Although domesticated animals have physical existence and identity, humans have added a cultural identity to them. Animals' lives, identities, personality meanings and values are largely dependent on humans. While animals live freely in nature, they have now turned into a cultural position when they were domesticated and adopted by people, starting with the dog. Perhaps the best example of this is animals that are domesticated and seen as companions, companions and companions to humans. Initially defined as just “animals’’, these pet animals are later seen as a family member [Johnson 2009Johnson, J. (2009). Dogs, Cats, and Their People: The Place of the Family Pet and Attitudes about Pet Keeping. (A thesis presented to the University of Waterloo in fulfilment of the thesis requirement for the degree of Master of Arts in Public Issues Anth. Waterloo, Ontario, Canada: University of Waterloo. Google Scholar].
The purpose of people in acquiring animals is not only to meet the shelter and nutrition needs of animals, but also to meet their own emotional needs. Animals are accustomed to being a friend, as a result, the animal has moved away from its real world and behaviour. Animals that humans interact with outside of industrial production are domestic animals. Animals that are compatible in their relationship with humans and display their “domestic’’ natural behaviours are described as “wild’’ and abandoned. Many authors have acknowledged that while contributing to the sociological understanding of pet care and feeding, it fulfils or fills some social functions in people's lives.
Franklin Franklin, A. (1999). Animals and Modern Cultures: A Sociology of Human-Animal Relations in Modernity. London, UK: Sage Publications. https://doi.org/10.4135/9781446217764 analysed people's interaction with animals sociologically and tried to reveal the relationship between the modern Western world and animals with a sociological understanding. He stated that by the secularization and urbanization of contemporary people, inter-communal relations are reduced to the basis of individual relations and this is perceived as an advantage. He stated that these changing conditions increased the special relations between people on the one hand and the relations with nature and animals on the other. According to Franklin, with the uprooting of people, they tended to live together with animals in their homes and families. Pets often play a role as a substitute for family, partner, child.
Migration from rural to urban led to the entry of animals into the houses along with families, and also caused the change in family structures. It can be said that this change mutually reshapes the relationships between pets and individuals.
The transformation of animals into pets has led to many forms of relationships and changing roles. In these relationships, pets are defined as family member, problem creature, toy, pleasure and part of the self [Belk 1996Belk, R.W. (1996). Metaphoric relationships with pets. Society \& Animals: Journal of Human-Animal Studies, 4(2), 121–145. https://doi.org/10.1163/156853096X00115].
When we think of pets, we first think of dogs and cats, birds and fish living in the aquarium. Cats and dogs are creatures that have the character of socializing with humans. In addition, cats and dogs can communicate with their owners with their bodies and movements. These animals are known to show their emotions with facial expressions, body, ear and tail movements. Cats and dogs have more reputations as players than any other animal. It is seen that these animals can be easily trained at home and have high intelligence compared to other mammals [Chou 2012Chou, Y. (2012). The Changing of Social Meanings of Pets and Their Alternative Futures. Journal of Futures Studies, 17(2), 1–14. Google Scholar].
People reveal their social status in various ways. Pets can reveal the social status of individuals. Everyone in society has some social status.
Social status; It can be defined by income, education, occupation, physical appearance and access to social power. A person's location can also be determined by their leisure activities, clothing, and consumption preferences. Pets are now seen as consumer preferences. Exotic races, expensive horses used for races, animals known for their violence can improve and change the social position of people [Berry 2008Berry, B. (2008). Interactionism and Animal Aesthetics: A Theory of Reflected Social Power. Society and Animals, 6, 75–89. https://doi.org/10.1163/156853008X269908]. Pets undertake the task of expressing their identities to people symbolically and contributing functionally in determining social status [Belk 1996Belk, R.W. (1996). Metaphoric relationships with pets. Society \& Animals: Journal of Human-Animal Studies, 4(2), 121–145. https://doi.org/10.1163/156853096X00115].
Sanders argues that animals are important determinants in the nature of their social structure relations and interactions, and their meanings change to the extent that people objectify or objectify the animals they have [Sanders 1993Sanders, C.R. (1993). Understanding Dogs: Caretakers' Attributions of Mindedness in Canine-Human Relationships. J. Contemp. Ethnog., 22(2), 205–226. https://doi.org/10.1177/089124193022002003, Sanders 1999Sanders, C.R. (1999). Understanding Dogs: Living and Working with Canine Companions. Philadelphia: Temple University Press. Google Scholar, Sanders 2011Sanders, C.R. (2011). Actions Speak Louder than Words: Close Relationships between Human and Nonhuman Animals. Symbolic Interaction, 26(3), 405–426. https://doi.org/10.1525/si.2003.26.3.405].
By attributing human-specific behaviours and emotions to animals, creating an emotional bond between domesticating animals and humans, different meanings are attributed to the consumer society in the fashion industry, and they do not create a market or are used as a marketing tool.
The meanings that individuals attribute to them primarily determine the ownership, care and other needs of their pets. Accordingly, their relationship with consumption for animals also changes. For example, the products and services sold within the framework of the behaviours and needs of a dog that is positioned as a member and child of the family and a guard dog adopted for the purpose of protecting and watching the house may vary.
In different parts of the world, animals are used and benefited for different purposes. Some are pack animals, some are ornamental, some are food, some are keeping various pets in order to share their loneliness. Animals can be domesticated, and their wild, aggressive behaviour can be transformed into a form suitable for human behaviour through education. With their emotional aspects, they turn into individuals who give unrequited love and do not spare their friendship. Since the existence of humanity, there has been a constant connection between animals and humans in various ways.
There are many purposes of animal nutrition. One of them is to provide economic benefit. Animals that are fed for the purpose of providing economic benefits can generally be small and large cattle and poultry, and equids and Equidae can be shown as pack animals and those that benefit from their power. There are economic reasons behind all of this. Domesticated animals are fed to provide emotional and health benefits to humans. For some people, it is important to feed or protect some animals due to their beliefs. Regardless of the purpose, there is a sociological and economic link between humans and animals in every age. Since the services received from animals make people's jobs easier, there is an indirect economic benefit.
Today, with the effect of the Covid–19 pandemic, especially pets can be obtained through pad shops or stray animals are adopted. Here, people prefer dogs and cats, which are the species they see closest to them, share their loneliness, and establish emotional bonds with. Here, however, humans derive a social and emotional benefit from animals.
The economy, which is seen as one of the functions that meets the basic needs of societies, is determinant for people in social life. The functions of institutions that make up social life differ from each other. People maintain their social existence with the economic phenomenon by continuing their lineage with the family institution. The ability of individuals to meet their needs such as clothing, nutrition and shelter depends on their economic situation. Economy shows a sociological quality by influencing the social relations of individuals through attitudes and behaviours in the production-consumption relationship [Aydın 2000Aydın, M. (2000). Kurumlar Sosyolojisi. Ankara: Vadi Yayınları [in Turkish]. Google Scholar]. The economy includes certain social rules within social systems. Since human activities take place within a system and at the point of rules, human activities are shaped within the framework of society in general and economics in particular [Ercan 2001Ercan, F. (2001). Toplumlar ve Ekonomiler. İstanbul: Bağlam Yayınları [in Turkish]. Google Scholar].
Studies have shown that; They are living things that have a relationship with each other in social life as well as in natural life between animals and humans. Animals have many benefits for humanity. These benefits are evaluated in terms of economic, social, mental and health. When animals, which have an active role in the changes of societies over time, are domesticated, accepted as family members and trained, their behaviour changes. They show behaviour similar to human behaviour. They will be in our lives as a part of our lives.
While many people gain social status thanks to the animals they feed, they also keep their communication channels open. Some of the animals that were described as “wild” in secular societies or with modern society were domesticated and started to be fed as “domestic” animals. On this occasion, people's consumer behaviours have also changed in terms of consumption habits. People's purpose of keeping pets is parallel to their providing various benefits to individuals. Cat-Dogs are domesticated and fed because they show unconditional love to people in terms of their intuition and love, they are therapeutic in some disadvantaged groups with health problems, and they relieve people's loneliness by making friends. Some are owned and fed for protection purposes, some for status purposes, some for nutrition, and some for benefiting from products derived from animals.
As a result, humans and animals are indispensable creatures for each other. The Covid–19 pandemic period, which took place in the last months of 2019, has also shown that our four-legged furry friends are friends by taking the stress and anxieties of each other. The economic and social benefits of animals, which also have the effect of regulating human relations, cannot be ignored.
Received: 15 Dec 2021
Accepted: 8 Apr 2022
Published online: 11 Sep 2022
Kayabasi, E.T., Yılmaz, O., (2022). Contribution of domestic animals to human economic and social life. Acta Sci. Pol. Zootechnica, 21(1), 29–34. DOI: 10.21005/asp.2022.21.1.04.