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

in Society & Animals
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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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