I hate that phrase, especially within the context in which it is normally used. Animals are often referred to as things to revile, to avoid, or with the expectation that they are or represent something terrible.
Here are some more examples:
“… treated like animals.”
“He acts like an animal.”
“… filthy animal.”
If you ask me, people who refer to animals in these ways have it all wrong. The truth is that it is mankind who is capable of unbelievable malice and cruelty, not the animals. Sure, what may appear to some to be a cruel example of killing when one animal kills another, in actuality such acts are quite natural. Animals kill to eat, to survive, or to protect their young, their territory, or their food stores. They do not kill, as mankind often does, for sport, fun, or to collect a trophy, or even worse, in the commission of a crime.
We should endeavor to be more them. Animals I mean.
So the next time you hear someone refer to animals by using one of the phrases I mentioned above, remember this:
For that which befalleth the sons of men befalleth beasts; even one thing befalleth them: as the one dieth, so dieth the other; yea, they have all one breath; so that a man hath no pre-eminence above a beast: for all is vanity. (Eccl 3:19)
While in many ways mankind and animals are more alike than man would like to admit, in other ways there are differences: the animals are better.