February 2012 Archives

Crate-Gate

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Criminology and Animals

There are varied areas of criminology and criminal justice that overlap with the study of nonhuman animals. Interest in domestic violence involving animals, animal cruelty, the role of dogs in prison therapy or animal assisted therapy generally, the use of service dogs in social control, such as K-9 units, and the like, are commonly discussed in the field.

Beyond the field of criminology, it is important to recognize how extensively Americans are involved with their nonhuman pets. Well over half of all U.S. households have a pet, and although there are actually more pet cats, more households have a dog than any other nonhuman animal. Surveys indicate that people interact with their pets, give them human names, buy them gifts, etc.

This makes the satirical Crate-Gate an especially interesting phenomenon for criminologists to watch. If you've never heard of Crate-Gate, try the above link. As any student of human and non-human interaction will attest, people speak through their nonhuman animals, in this case, dogs. In today's world of a presidential race in progress, we have an opportunity to see the varied voices and scenes that humans use to tell their dogs' stories. Can or should a presidential candidate be judged on how he treats his own family pet? Would knowledge about how a presidential candidate treats his own family pet inform citizens' understanding of his moral character?

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