Village dogs are important for households in coastal Mexico, yet they are seen as out of place by etic stakeholders (public health and wildlife experts, and animal welfarists). Caregivers of village dogs are considered irresponsible, a view that is reinforced by Mexican policy. We describe two contrasting etic discourses in this article that have emerged from ideologies based on human-dog relation theories. The article is part of an ongoing shift in the social sciences that has seen attempts to move beyond anthropocentrism and to explore human-animal relations outside the parameters of the traditional nature-culture dichotomy. Local narratives hinge on different experiences with dogs. Villagers perceive their dogs as adults, capable of and subject to judgment. Etic discourses are currently the basis for dog management policies. Attaching the label of “irresponsible owner” to the caregivers of village dogs prevents their inclusion as legitimate participants in policy processes.
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