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Helen Kopnina

Abstract

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

Abstract

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.

Robert L. Young and Carol Y. Thompson

Abstract

Based on four years of ethnographic observations, interviews, and full participation, this research elucidates the emotional dynamics and consequences of feral cat caregiving across a variety of interactional settings. Such caregiving is often conducted in the context of a lack of understanding from otherwise sympathetic friends and relatives and opposition and stigmatization from others who are unsympathetic to the work. We find that the ability of caregivers to take the role of the nonhuman other facilitates genuine empathic concern, which allows caregivers to provide relatively successful and ongoing care. Unfortunately, the combination of emotional stress and compassion fatigue, combined with frequent setbacks and a substantial dearth of organizational and economic support of caregivers’ efforts, often leads to disillusionment, cynicism, and burnout. In addition to elucidating the social and emotional problems of our respondents, we also offer a conceptual and theoretical framework to guide further research on this and related topics.

Laura Meyer and Ann Sartori

Abstract

The persistence of chronic post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) among veterans of the Vietnam War warrants an exploration of new treatment approaches, such as equine-facilitated psychotherapy (EFP). The purpose of this study was to use open-ended interviews to explore five Vietnam veterans’ perceptions of their bond with an equine partner during EFP and how it influences their behavior and PTSD symptoms. Questions addressed their relationships with their equine partners, including its development and impact on their interpersonal relationships. Attachment Theory provided a framework for understanding the four main themes that emerged from analysis of the responses: positive changes in thoughts and behaviors, veterans’ beliefs about horses’ cognitions and emotions, emotions and emotional regulation, and interpersonal and interspecies relationships. The authors concluded that EFP may support personal growth and healing because horses serve as attachment figures, provide a secure base for emotional exploration, and encourage non-verbal communication.

Beloved Companion or Problem Animal

The Shifting Meaning of Pit Bull

Maria A. Iliopoulou, Carla L. Carleton and Laura A. Reese

Abstract

The term Pit bull is widely used. However, is it assigned a specific definition, or is it associated with overly inclusive and contradictory meanings? At the beginning of the 1900s, dogs identified as Pit bulls were known for their love of children. Media sensationalism has contributed to a shift in perceptions of Pit bulls from favorite companion animals to problem nonhuman animals. Thus, the process of constructing “problem animals” is examined. A qualitative study was conducted to explore what the term Pit bull represents for a sample of fifty-six adults. The data collection tool was the Personal Meaning Map. Respondents seemed to have vague and conflicting definitions of Pit bulls. For some, they are gentle companions, but for others they are gang-related status symbols. For some, Pit bulls represent one breed, whereas for others they represent many breeds. Finally, they were perceived to be both victims of cruelty and predators.

Joshua B. Hill and Julie Banks

Abstract

The adult prison population in the U.S. is one of the most important, marginalized, yet misunderstood groups within the country. Not only is the population larger than those of other industrialized nations, but the prisons themselves also tend to be more punitive in nature. While there have been many proposed reasons for this, ranging from differences in the “American Character” to the increasing severity of mandatory sentencing guidelines, explanations of the American prisoner setting remain thin. One area that has relevance to this topic but in which there has been little research is the language used to describe prisoners. This language is replete with images of nonhuman animals. Examples and explanations of this phenomenon are provided through the inspection of the lexicons and argots (“prison slang”) for animal themes, and implications regarding implicit power relationships and the effects on both prisoners and nonhuman animals stemming from this language are explored.

Nicolo Paolo P. Ludovice

Abstract

The place of the non-human animal in the legal world has been questioned. Animals’ legal status as property has been probed on how to best protect their welfare. While this is significant for animals who are not on the farm, it might not be effective when considering animals raised for food. The case of the carabao, or the water buffalo, in the Philippines is seen as a hybrid. This article traces the development of the carabao in Philippine history during the nineteenth century. Through historical, archival, and legal research on animals, the carabao is situated as private property. Colonial instruments of control were introduced to protect the carabao from criminals. In its proper historical context, the classification of carabaos as property indeed highlighted the animal’s status as legally owned, which did not necessarily demean the animal’s relationship with the human peasant nor the carabao’s quality as an animal.

Jessica Siebenbruner

Abstract

The purpose of the current study was to gain additional understanding of the developmental significance of companion animals for human development. Participants were 202 undergraduate students at a public university. Companion animal ownership, bonding (i.e., high and low reported bonding), and affection (i.e., high and low reported affection) in childhood and emerging adulthood were explored in relation to psychosocial functioning during emerging adulthood (i.e., empathy, autonomy, self-esteem, helping disposition, loneliness, and social anxiety). The majority of participants reported having companion animals during childhood, and to a slightly lesser degree, during emerging adulthood, with a dog overwhelmingly being the most important companion animal. Companion animal ownership and type of companion animal were not associated with psychosocial functioning. However, companion animal bond during childhood and companion animal affection during emerging adulthood were associated with emerging adult psychosocial functioning.

Mary E. Edwards, Eyal Gringart and Deirdre Drake

Abstract

Dog relinquishment is common practice across Australia and in many other countries. The psychological impact of dog relinquishment is an under-researched area. While a few studies have shown that the dog relinquishment experience can be emotionally distressing and cognitively challenging for adults, nothing is known about the impact of the experience on children. This paper reports on the recollections of 10 adults, who in qualitative interviews in Western Australia, described their childhood experience of dog relinquishment. The findings suggest that children experiencing dog relinquishment feel powerless and voiceless, having no influence or say in what happens to their dogs. The experience can be cognitively and emotionally distressing, especially for children who are close to their dogs. Getting rid of a child’s loved dog can damage the parent-child relationship. In addition, the thoughts and feelings associated with losing their dogs in this way can remain long after the event.