Jennifer Dunn, Colleen Best, David L. Pearl and Andria Jones-Bitton
Despite numerous benefits, a dark side exists in human and veterinary caregiving professions that can negatively impact caregiver mental health. It was postulated that other nonhuman animal caregivers, animal welfare employees, might experience mental health outcomes similar to those in analogous caregiving occupations. This study investigated employee mental health at a Canadian animal welfare organization using five validated mental health instruments: Perceived Stress Scale (stress), Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale (anxiety and depression), Professional Quality of Life Scale (compassion satisfaction and compassion fatigue), Maslach Burnout Inventory Scale (burnout), and Connor-Davidson Resilience Scale (resilience). Front-line and support staff tended to have poorer mental health outcomes relative to the study population mean, potential for burnout was a notable concern, and resilience was below normal for most employees. These results shed light on the mental health of an animal caregiving occupation that has largely been ignored. Strategies for building employee resilience are discussed.
Patricia Burke Wood
This paper documents the significance of horses to Irish Travellers, on several fronts, to demonstrate their unusual relationship with horses as companion animals and as work animals in a non-farm context. Their multiple attachments and engagement are analyzed in the context of the literature in human–nonhuman animal relations and animal geographies, which helps illuminate the ways in which horses have shaped Traveller geographies and identities, and how these associations have become politicized. The 1996 Control of Horses Act has led to greater restrictions on the keeping of horses; the impact of the loss of this animal from Traveller daily life is discussed. This research also helps fill a gap in the literature on horses and urban and rural landscapes in Ireland, which has to date largely excluded Travellers.
Jenjit Khudamrongsawat, Dhanyaporn Meetan and Nantarika Chansue
The traditional practice of releasing turtles into temple ponds in Thailand, believed to benefit releasers, likely affects turtles’ welfare and impacts wild populations. We examined the species, abundance, and health of turtles in six temple ponds. Seven native turtle species and two exotic species were recorded. Most common were the yellow-headed temple turtle (Heosemys annandalii), a legally protected species, and the exotic red-eared slider (Trachemys scripta elegans). Almost all examined turtles showed signs of illness, the most common being shell lesions and excessive algal growth on shells. Poor sanitation and food quality, and limited space to bask, observed in all ponds, contributed to turtles’ poor health. We recommend using better-managed temple ponds as temporary rehabilitation centers and returning healthy native turtles to natural areas, while encouraging people to provide funds to support the turtles and discouraging the release of new turtles.
Daniela Luna, Rodrigo A. Vásquez and Tamara Tadich
Recognizing pain in nonhuman animals and empathy toward them is important for modulating human-animal relationships and animal welfare. Few studies have assessed pain recognition and empathic responses toward animals based on socio-demographic characteristics, and even fewer have examined them in socioeconomically marginalized individuals. To address this issue, four instruments were applied to 100 working horse caretakers. The socio-demographic and quality of life instruments were applied as interviews, and afterward two rating scales measuring empathy toward animals and the willingness to attribute pain to horses, in a diversity of painful conditions, were filled out. The results indicate that working horse caretakers have high levels of empathy and the willingness to attribute a high intensity of pain to equines in diverse situations that imply pain, but that neither socio-demographic status nor satisfaction with life quality were correlated with empathy toward animals or the willingness to attribute pain to horses.
Siobhan O’Sullivan, Yvette Watt and Fiona Probyn-Rapsey
Developing an academic career can be exciting, rewarding and stimulating. It can also be challenging, disheartening, and highly insecure. Results from a survey of Animal Studies (AS) scholars identifies reasons why pursuing a career in AS might generate additional challenges, over and above those experienced by academics generally. For example, 44 percent of respondents stated that in their view, undertaking research in AS “creates challenges for an academic career.” This is compared to just 16 percent who thought that it is an advantage. Yet despite the challenges, there is much that is positive about AS. Participants described being in “dialogue with clever colleagues,” viewed their work as “totally engaging,” and reported feeling “morally useful.” This in turn affords AS scholars an authenticity that may be of long-term benefit in the competitive and constantly transforming world of higher education.
This essay offers an analysis of how the spread of Islam across southern Mali has impacted relationships between humans and cats. Historically, Malians have generally characterized cats as familiars for witches, setting them apart from other nonhuman animals as signs of misfortune. Such attitudes regularly culminate in people capturing and killing cats, some of whom are kept as companion animals, without repercussion. But cat-loving Muslims in southern Mali have increasingly started to call such attitudes and practices into question, using stories of the Prophet Muhammad to defend the honor of cats. This article offers a review of the changing nature of human-cat relations in contemporary southern Mali by considering the varied rationales offered for vilifying as well as honoring and tending to cats alike.
Stephen E. S. Crook
Growth in the human population and the popularity of outdoor recreation have resulted in increasing interaction between humans and mountain lions (Puma concolor). A questionnaire was used to gauge attitudes, risk perception, and management preferences toward the species among residents near its habitat in Santa Cruz County, California. Attitudes were positive, risk perception moderate, knowledge low, and lethal control measures unpopular. More positive attitudes were found among men, respondents with more education, respondents who recreated often in natural areas, and nature organization members. Older respondents, women, those who recreated less in mountain lion habitat, and those who lived near (but not in) perceived mountain lion habitat demonstrated increased risk perception. Results could help align management actions with public preferences, and guide conservation organizations toward capitalizing on positive attitudes. Both management bodies and conservation organizations should target outreach toward addressing poor knowledge among groups with negative attitudes and higher risk perception.
This article aims to gauge students’ perceptions of the Dutch Party for Animals (PvdD) in order to reflect on the political representation of nonhumans (animals). The support for political representation of nonhumans is based on the ethical underpinning of deep ecology; growing recognition of the importance of sustainability; and increased societal support for animal rights and welfare. This article reflects on these developments using Bachelor students’ assignments from a Sustainable Business course, which asked them to reflect on the underlying principles of the PvdD. Student assignments indicate that educational efforts targeted at fostering ecological citizenship have a positive effect on the recognition and acceptance of ecocentric values.
Alice J. Hovorka
As human-animal studies (HAS) scholarship has grown and expanded over the past few decades, so have opportunities to bring nonhuman animals into higher education. This article presents an instructional design option for teaching the animal through interdisciplinary experiential learning. Interdisciplinary learning integrates multidisciplinary knowledge across a central theme while experiential learning encourages learners to move through a recursive process of experiencing, reflecting, thinking, and acting. The article also reflects on student learning outcomes based on a questionnaire survey conducted five years after the course completion. Preliminary insights reveal the transformative potential of this approach given students’ modified viewpoints, enhanced ethical sensitivity, enlarged horizons, and behavioral changes regarding animals. HAS scholars are encouraged to engage in animal-focused scholarship of teaching and learning in higher education by sharing instructional templates and scholarly research on HAS courses. Doing so will expand opportunities for students to appreciate, critically examine, and positively influence animal lives.