(Proverbs 12:10 KJV) A righteous man regardeth the life of his beast: but the tender mercies of the wicked are cruel.
Pet lovers should rejoice in this verse. Here is a clear statement of stewardship in “regard” (3045) [yada] to the animal kingdom. This is the word meaning to know intimately. I am not an animal person but my wife and daughter are. They have a genuine regard for their animals. They feel incomplete if they do not have a cat. This is a characteristic of righteousness. Being cruel to animals is a sin. Of course some people get so carried away with this that they want to liberate the draft horses and free the cows. That is obviously another extreme because the Bible commonly refers to animals as servants of mankind.
You may know the name of William Wilberforce. He was a member of the English Parliament who fought for 40 years to outlaw slavery in the British Empire. He was a contemporary of George Washington and John Wesley. Most people don’t know that he was involved in the beginning of the SPCA (The Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals). This is righteousness at work.
This does not mean that you need a pet to be righteous. It just means if you have one, treat it right.
“Life” (5315) [nephesh]is something a “beast” (929) can have. This is also a common word for “soul”. This might also be a source of hope for people who wonder about where their pets go when they die. It is not conclusive of anything, just a source of hope.