Drew C. Coman, Margaret P. Bass, Michael Alessandri, Christine S. Ghilain and Maria M. Llabre
This is a replication, randomized control trial, that investigated the therapeutic effects of a 12-week equine-assisted (EA) intervention on the social and sensory functioning of children with autism. Reliability and stability of parent and teacher reports of children’s social and sensory functioning across three assessment times were assessed, in support of the validity of observed outcomes. Furthermore, it was hypothesized that children in the EA group (n = 25) would significantly improve, relative to a wait-list control group (n = 25), in both domains of functioning. Results indicated that reports were reliable, and children in the experimental group improved in overall social and sensory functioning, as well as within specific subdomains, with “unblinded” assessment methods. Relative to the pre-assessment scores, children improved in functioning in specific areas at post-assessment and 8-weeks post-intervention. Therefore, results of the study suggest EA activities may be a beneficial modality for delivering autism-specific treatment strategies.
Post-Secondary Students’ Reactions and Mood
Alisa D. McArthur and Corinne Syrnyk
Post-secondary students are experiencing more stress than ever before. In an attempt to help alleviate some of this stress, animal-assisted therapy (AAT) events were held on the campus of a small liberal arts institution just prior to final exams in the Fall and Winter terms. All students were invited to mingle with dogs and handlers from a local AAT advocacy group. In Study 1, students were surveyed following the events held in the Fall and Winter and self-reported an improved mood as a result of the events as well as being extremely satisfied with the experience. Similarly, Study 2, held in the subsequent Fall, replicated the findings from Study 1. In addition, the Brief Mood Inspection Scale, administered before and after the event, found students’ mood improved on all three subscales. The implications for future research to fully assess the impact of such events on students are discussed.
Andrea Mubi Brighenti and Andrea Pavoni
This piece explores “domesticity” as a social territory defined by its relationship with the conceptual and ecological space of “the wild,” and asks whether these spaces stand in opposition to each other or more subtle relations of co-implication are at play. As we look into the domestic and the wild, a conceptual map of notions emerges, including the public, the common, the civilized, and the barbarian. The paper suggests the domestic and the wild constitute two semiotic-ecological domains constantly stretching into each other without any stable or even clear boundary line, and it elaborates on a series of corollaries for studying non-human animals in urban contexts. As an illustrative case study, we follow the story of Daniza, a wild brown bear introduced in the Brenta Natural Park on the Italian Alps in the 2000s. Declared a “dangerous animal,” Daniza was accidentally, and controversially, killed by the public authorities in 2014.
Lois Presser, Jennifer L. Schally and Christine Vossler
This paper is concerned with the ways that vegans and meat-eaters talk about themselves and their dietary practices. Data from a total of 81 semi-structured interviews with ethical vegans (n = 21) and meat-eaters (n = 60) were analyzed for themes and discursive strategies, and results were compared. Vegans insisted that nonhuman animals had interests of their own and spoke of making consumption choices. Meat-eaters tended to reduce animals to human purposes and claimed powerlessness to avoid doing harm to animals while also referencing some license to eating meat. Vegans shared stories of eating meat, whereas few of the meat-eaters did so. Turning points in those (vegan) stories pertained to realizations of harming animals, and thought knowledge were prominent themes in their accounts generally. Vegans were prone to critique past selves and the movement they had aligned themselves with. This research can help promote discourses of compassion and counter discourses of harm.
Medieval unease with human animality manifests itself strongly in attitudes toward and proscriptions concerning food sharing. This is particularly true with dogs, the nonhuman animals with whom humans most intimately share both the procurement and consumption of food, and who are routinely figured as embodying many of the best and worst characteristics associated with humans. Through a range of late medieval texts, this paper will probe the precarious boundary between human and nonhuman animals in the medieval imagination by considering the portrait of Chaucer’s Prioress and her lapdogs in The Canterbury Tales; depictions of dogs in the hunt in medieval romance; and the strange tale of Sir Gowther, whose penance is to eat only what he receives from the mouth of a dog. Rather than supporting claims for an essential difference between human and nonhuman animal, such examples further emphasize the fluidity of the two categories.
Kristopher D. White
The snow leopard (Panthera uncia) is commonly seen in the cultural landscape within the Republic of Kazakhstan. This contrasts rather starkly with the endangered species’ presence on the natural landscape there. Three contemporary cultural landscape sightings of the snow leopard in Kazakhstan—the Almaty zoological park, the Kazakhstan 2030 strategy initiative, and the 2011 Asian Winter Games—are explored here. The positive imagery and symbolism linking the snow leopard to the Republic of Kazakhstan cements the non-human animal’s status as an unofficial state symbol. The borderlands of snow leopard landscapes, those spaces of cultural and natural environmental overlap, are vital for conservation efforts. Reincorporating non-human animals into social science research offers the opportunity for cultural landscape investigations. For the snow leopard, cultural landscape research may prove as important as traditional natural landscape research in Kazakhstan and throughout this majestic non-human animal’s territorial range.
Domestic Violence, Companion Animals, and Veterinarians
C.M. Tiplady, D.B. Walsh and C.J.C. Phillips
This article describes a study of thirteen women who had lived with companion animals during a domestic violence relationship. The women were interviewed in order to investigate how animals were affected by the violence, as well as how veterinarians were involved. Most women reported that companion animals had been abused or neglected by their partners, and they had delayed leaving due to concerns for animals left in the home. Affected animals most commonly demonstrated protection of the woman, and avoidance or aggression towards the partner. Only one woman confided to a veterinarian that she and her animals were living with domestic violence, and in four cases women’s partners had prevented them from accessing veterinary care. It is recommended that veterinarians are educated on issues regarding animal guardianship during domestic violence to enhance their ability to provide knowledgeable and compassionate support when confronted with these cases in practice.