REFERRING to an animal as a "pet" or as "it" reduces a sentient being with a personality and emotions to an inanimate object – a possession to be used in any way the "owner" wishes. Contrary to some reports making headlines this week, we are not seeking to ban these words (Letters, February 6); we're simply suggesting that it would be more respectful to refer to the animals in our homes as "animal companions" and ourselves as their "guardians" in the same way that all social movements concerned with cultivating respect have made appeals to stop using terms that are racist or sexist or that otherwise imply that the subject is less important than the speaker.

Ingrid E Newkirk, Managing Director, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (Peta) Foundation, London N1.