People who have lived with companion rats know that they are friendly and affectionate animals who can charm almost anyone if given the chance (“Better to have a few rats than to be one,” July 27).
Rats easily bond with human guardians because they are highly social beings. They also become emotionally attached to each other, love their families and are altruistic — risking their own lives to save other rats. They even giggle when they’re tickled but in frequencies that humans can’t hear.
Research has shown that the words we use change how we think and behave. Using sloppy language — calling someone a rat, pig or dog as a slur —devalues other animals and helps fuel speciesism, the misguided belief that one species is more important than another. The consequences are very real: more animal exploitation, pain and suffering.
Let’s liberate our language and stop using words and phrases that denigrate other living beings.
Paula Moore, Norfolk, VA
The writer is with the PETA Foundation.
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