Anthropomorphism is the attribution of human characteristics to inanimate objects, animals, or God. It has been a hallmark of faiths and religions worldwide. Humans have a natural tendency to assign intentions and desires to inanimate objects ("my computer isn't feeling well today - he's so slow!"), but they also strip "lower" beings (animals) of those same human characteristics.
We have a history of treating animals unnecessarily cruelly. I don't mean killing for food - that's necessary for our survival; I'm referring to dog fights, hunting, and other violence. We didn't even think that animals could sense pain until quite recently!
Why do we think of lifeless forms as agents with intentions but of actual living creatures as emotionally inferior clumps of cells?
Could it be that the need to rationalize phenomena is simply stronger when the phenomena have absolutely no visible explanation?
And do toasters really have feelings??