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The Place of the Dog in the Family

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A Comparative Case Study of Dog Adoption

image of Society & Animals

This paper explores how perspectives on the appropriate place of the dog in the family shape the practice and experience of dog adoption. This research is based on a comparative case study of a traditional shelter and an independent animal rescue organization. The data were collected through participant observation and interviews with directors and volunteers at these organizations, and with people who adopted dogs through shelter or independent animal rescue organizations. The independent rescue organizations tended to use “dog-centric” discourse to describe the relationship between the dog and its prospective family, while the traditional animal shelter and some adoptive families used “human-centric” discourse. These perspectives were tied to the adoption practices of the organizations and individuals’ experiences while adopting a dog. The implications of these findings for the practice of dog adoption are discussed, and suggestions for shelters and animal rescue organizations are presented.

Affiliations: 1: Department of Sociology and Department of Global Studies, Bentley University


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