Canine Rescue as a Social Movement: The Politics of Love

In: Society & Animals
Anna L. Peterson Department of Religion, University of Florida Gainesville, Florida USA

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Canine rescue is a growing movement that affects the lives of tens of thousands of nonhuman animals and people every year. Rescue is noteworthy not only for its numbers, but also because it challenges common understandings of animal advocacy. Popular accounts often portray work on behalf of animals as sentimental, individualistic, and apolitical. In fact, work on behalf of animals has always been political, in multiple ways. It is characterized both by internal political tensions, especially between animal rights and welfare positions, and by complex relations to the broader public sphere. I analyze canine rescue, with a focus on pit bull rescue, to show that an important segment of canine rescue movements adopts an explicitly political approach which blurs the divide between rights and welfare, addresses the social context of the human-animal bond, and links animal advocacy to social justice.

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