Loving Them to Death: Blame-Displacing Strategies of Animal Shelter Workers and Surrenderers

In: Society & Animals
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  • 1 TUFTS UNIVERSITY SCHOOL OF VETERINARY MEDICINE
  • 2 TUFTS UNIVERSITY SCHOOL OF VETERINARY MEDICINE

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Abstract

This article examines how shelter workers and individuals who surrender their companion animals to shelters manage guilt about killing previously valued animals. Researchers used an ethnographic approach that entailed open-ended interviews and directobservations of workers and surrenderers in a major, metropolitan shelter. Both workers and surrenderers used blame displacement as a mechanism for dealing with their guilt over euthanasia or its possibility. Understanding this coping strategy provides insights into how society continues to relinquish animal companions-despite the animals' chances of death-as well as how shelter workers cope with killing the animals they aim to protect.

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