This is a very important question. The demand for pets determines the supply. Many people can see the use of keeping cattle: they serve as food for people. But what use are pets? The most common reasons for keeping pets are:

  • company
  • socializing
  • they are beautiful, nice and interesting
  • status
  • something to do

Many people have pets to substitute relationships with partners, children or family members. Many elderly people for instance, like having a dog instead of being all alone at home. This is usually a lap dog, very affectionate and strokable.
The animal serves people's need to cherish, love and fight boredom. But this is really a distressing reason for keeping a pet. The animal is a replacement for normal human contact, something that apparently is too much to summon in our individualistic society. Their pet keeps them from pining. But of course, it has to be a type of dog that suits them and that has been bred especially for their needs.

Pets make socializing with others easier. People are more inclined to start a conversation when they can focus their attention on the animal in a moment of silence. Just like with any other hobby, it's nice to talk to people that have the same hobby.

Links inside Animal Freedom:

Bad arguments for keeping pets

An example: the dog
The history of dogs
Modern day dogs
Consequences of irresponsible breeding for dogs
Drawbacks for dogs
The pet-industry
Why do people want pets?
Drawbacks for humans
Take a pet?

Beautiful, nice and interesting
People find animals attractive. No matter what kind of animal it is, you can always find an interesting characteristic. Birds sing, dogs and cats are playful and funny, and there are animals that look uncommon.

Pets give status. When an animal looks dangerous, for instance, this reflects on its owner. Many people (sub) consciously pick animals that best suit them and most reflect their status.

Something to do
Preventing boredom is another important reason to keep pets. An animal needs attention. It can need a lot of attention, as dogs do, but there are also animals that don't need as much attention, such as fish or turtles. Besides, you can look at them. Animal-watching is a nice way to spend your time, just like people-watching.
But do these arguments put forward by people balance against the animal's arguments or the drawbacks for humans?