But even after fifty years in the chamber, it's not clear what "anthropomorphism" really means, or why it's so bad. Let this stand as a reference, then, for the volley to come. When people start screaming about how fool-hearted and sentimental all these damned activists are, remember this.
What are human characteristics? If I say of my dog that he is hungry, is that anthropomorphism? Humans are sometimes hungry, after all. Of course it's not. It's not that every ascription of some human-possessed trait to some object is anthropomorphic. Human's are material, for example. We have physical bodies, located in three-dimensional space. Yet I'm not anthropomorphizing my screwdriver when I say that it's a material object. Only certain ascriptions are anthropomorphic. Only ascribing specific human-possessed traits is problematic - exclusively human characteristics.
Most often, the relevant human traits are psychological. People complain when we describe the actions or thoughts of an animal in an objectionably human way. But again, not every psychological trait in humans is off-limits to animals. There's nothing wrong with saying my dog is hungry. If he hasn't eaten lately, he's hungry. Hunger is a feeling that humans experience internally. I'd say it's most naturally characterized as a desire to eat, and all sorts of other creatures experience it, too. Who can say whether dog-hungry is psychologically identical to human-hungry? Probably not. But surely it's no mistake to say that they experience hunger. If it were, how could we make any sense of the way dogs act when they haven't eaten? How do we intuit that their bodies require sustenance, if its not by accurately reading from their behaviors that they feel hungry?