…and “that” refers to non-people. At least that’s what I learned in English class. Then I ran into this:
Volunteers looking for abandoned animals in rural North Carolina came across a cow who had escaped her flooded barn, but was having a hard time staying afloat in deep storm surge.
After what was surely a traumatic experience, the cow, nicknamed Ricky, settled into her new cushy life at a New Jersey animal sanctuary alongside another cow who had been rescued from Hurricane Harvey
It’s unclear what will happen to the cows who were swept out to sea this fall.
These are from a Washington Post article about some cattle washed out to sea by a hurricane. (See how I avoided using “who” there?)
It happened three times, so I don’t think this usage was an accident. I confess, using “who” feels, um, closer to the animals, as if treating them as individuals.
Maybe we can do this when we refer to our pets, too, eh?
Oh yes. A picture: