My challenge to all mindful people of the world is this: Never refer to an animal as an “it.”
The word “it” is generally used in our language to denote an object. Culturally, however, many of us have learned to use this word as a general reference to an animal, as well. But to do this is to object-ify them and not acknowledge the individuality and sanctity of this being’s life.
Just like us, every animal is either a he or a she and should be identified as such. (If you’re not sure which, you can always say “he or she” or use the word “they” in the singular.) While this might seem like an exercise in semantics, it is not. It’s actually the first important step we can take to recognize the inherent interconnectedness that exists between “us and them.” By making this gender distinction, we set the stage for other acknowledgments, like the fact that every animal has parents, personal preferences, the ability to feel pain and express emotion, and the right to live out their days on this planet in peace, under our compassionate guardianship.
As you engage the practice of always acknowledging gender, you will feel differently about all animals and deepen your connection to them. And you will also begin to notice how few people actually practice this!