So, when did it happen? And how?
For most of time, animals and humans had a powerful and complex working relationship.
Animals and humans hunted together, fought wars together, tilled the fields, provided transportation together…and the animals were used as food and clothing.
Eventually they came closer to our homes, living in the yards, the barn, the coop.
They became more domesticated, sharing our lives more intimately.
They then moved into our homes. A huge step.
Shared space with us.
But they were still regarded as “only animals,” however loved.
They were companions, play mates and gradually, pets.

But somewhere a shift in perception was taking place: Animals were being regarded, “felt” as Spiritual Beings.
Many religions had honored them, some regarded them as holy, sacred.
Now though we were seeing them as Spiritual Beings, a quantum leap.
The realization changed our approach, creating, for example vegetarianism, and the impetus for powerful opposition to the abuse of animals.
Although one can certainly object to abusive treatment on the grounds of compassion, compassion ultimately has its roots in spiritual grounds.
So, what does it mean to know, to actually experience (not just believe) that animals are essentially Spiritual realities?
What changes would occur if everyone discerned this?

Do Animal Welfare organizations necessarily share the view of Animals as Spiritual?
Being committed to the welfare of animals is not the same thing.
Working toward a bigger battery cage for imprisioned chickens is Animal Welfare. Not keeping them captive is a Spiritual act.
Creating a curved wall in abattoirs to calm cattle on their way to slaughter may be humane and good welfare. But not slaughtering them acknowledges them as having a Spiritual essence and worthy of life, happiness and freedom.
The question isn’t, in my opinion, philosophical. The significance of fully accepting animals as Spiritual Realities goes to the heart of our behavior and and the way we chose to live our lives, and with whom.