A while back, I noticed that the only nonsexualized form of public intimacy most Americans can show these days involves pets. Public displays of affection between ostensibly consenting adults in a modern setting draws the assumption from onlookers (and possibly from some of the participants) that such displays mean a sexual relationship is either present or imminent.
But unless you really bury the needle on the depravity meter, nobody sexualizes someone petting a dog.
Now look at the rise of both real and false service animals in public places. Are we looking at a pack of speaking-to-the-manager suburbanite shits who want their beasts at hand in public and don't give a fuck about training them?
Or are we seeing one flavor of a trend of people who are giving up with connecting to humanity because we've left no way to get close to someone else without the world assuming we're putting out to them?
Personally. I think it's both. I'm just not sure about the proportions.
Humanity is mind-boggling in its adaptability to new environments. And if a given environment doesn't provide for all needs, humans will find another way to see to those needs.
I'm not saying that bullshit claiming that a pet is an ESA or a service animal is a good idea. But between buying a vest and changing the perception of a culture with millions of people, I can see which is easier.