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Laura Meyer and Ann Sartori


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


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


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


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


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


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.

Rebecca J. Huss

Taryn M. Graham, Kelsey Lucyk, Lucy Diep and Melanie J. Rock


This study examines alleged discrimination towards people partnered with assistance dogs, as represented by Canadian newspapers. Doing so expands understanding of attitudes held toward assistance dogs and highlights everyday challenges faced by the people with whom they are partnered. Articles included for analysis were tabulated according to where instances of alleged discrimination happened, the type of assistance dog that was involved, and the reported reasons that were given as grounds for denying accommodation. Reported reasons were grouped further into five themes (health risks; ignorance; nuisance; cultural beliefs and/or religious convictions; and assault). Education programs, intersectoral collaboration, and policy changes are all recommended to tackle the challenges identified.