Tag Archives: relationships

Who should Fido fear? Depends on relationship

As states around the country move to stiffen punishments for animal cruelty, Michigan State University researchers have found a correlation between the types of animal abuse committed and the perpetrator’s relationship to an animal and its owner.

For example, animal-neglect crimes (i.e. withholding food and water) tend to be perpetrated by the animal’s owner. On the other hand, with crimes that involve kicking or stabbing, the suspect is usually an owner’s family member or intimate partner, said Laura Reese, professor of urban and regional planning.

Laura Reese and Odie

Study leader Laura Reese and her dog, Odie Photo by Laura Reese

Reese and Cassie Richard, an MSU master’s of public policy student who now works for the Oregon Commission for the Blind, studied more than 300 animal cruelty police reports in Detroit between 2007 and 2015. They categorized abuse into eight types including dog fighting, shooting, poisoning, stabbing and neglect. The researchers coded the list of motivations for cruelty as listed by the perpetrators, who were then matched with the Detroit police crime feed to examine their other patterns of crime.

The researchers also found:

  • It’s usually owners – rather than anyone else – who engage their dogs in dog fighting as a form of abuse, often for the money. But owners are also less likely to commit more active forms of cruelty, possibly because of their role as guardians.
  • Most stabbings involve family members while poisonings are typically committed by neighbors.
  • Motivations differ. For intimate partners of pet owners, frustration with a relationship is often the cause of violence, whereas for neighbors, annoyance with an animal is often the impetus for cruelty.

“This isn’t just an animal problem – it’s a human problem,” Reese said. “For example, people who shoot other humans are more likely to shoot animals. At the same time, dog fighting is a public safety problem and dogs running loose biting people due to neglect is a public health problem. So, addressing human problems will help animal problems and vice versa, and we need to encourage public officials to think that way.”

However, most policymakers don’t, she said. Animal cruelty prevention needs to be a coordinated effort between law enforcement, public agencies and nonprofits. And because forms of animal cruelty vary, public policies and public health solutions should vary.

For example, dog fighting is related to gambling, drugs and weapon offenses. Thus, crackdowns on those issues would address that form of cruelty. Meanwhile, low-cost veterinary services and enforcement of existing ordinances, such as licensing requirements and leash laws, would target owner neglect.

“Simple education and informing people about proper nutrition, spaying and neutering could be done in schools,” Reese said. “Folks often want to do the right thing, but they may not have the resources. At the same time, cruelty is also tied up with domestic violence, which raises a separate and more complex set of concerns. That’s why we need our legislators and local officials to understand the complexities of animal cruelty and make solutions a priority.”

The study is published in the journal Anthrozoös.

The journal article can be read here:

https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/08927936.2019.1550282)

Source:  Michigan State University media release

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Corporate sponsorship

I’m regularly approached by charities for sponsorship of shows and other events.  I’ve been trading since 2007 and, eight years on, I have developed a sense of what I will and will not support.

Let me explain.

Sponsorship, from the smallest company to the largest, must match the goals and values of the sponsor and the receiver.  Where there is a mis-match, either one party or the other loses out.

Dog shows, for example, are often looking for products for their prize packs.  It’s an ‘easy win’ for a large company to provide bags of food and get their name onto a show program and in front of dog owners.   The recipients of these prize packs get something for free and there’s little loyalty involved.  They may never buy from the company involved again and the large corporate sponsor doesn’t mind because their goal was simply name recognition.

The same is typically not true for products and services provided by smaller businesses.  These businesses need something reciprocal in order to grow and to afford sponsorship in the future.  These businesses may donate to a cause one year, but if they receive no response from your members during the year, they are unlikely to consider sponsorship of benefit to them.

For my business, as an example, I am looking for an on-going link to the groups I support.  I am happy to provide my time and services if I feel that people will direct their business to me in the future.  I have a keen interest in helping rescue dogs, for example.  I get great personal satisfaction from helping dogs in need and when they are adopted, some come back to me as clients.

I rent space from a local training club, for example.  They give me a good rate but in return they get advertising by me bringing other dog owners to their property.  I also acknowledge their support when promoting the workshops I hold there.  Win-win.

This weekend, I sponsored a garage sale.  I did all of the promotion for the event and took time out of my business to seek donations of goods from my clients and from like-minded businesses I deal with.  The benefactor was Greyhounds as Pets (GAP), a charity that works to re-home retired racing greyhounds.

I believe in this cause because my Izzy is a greyhound who came from GAP just over a year ago.  But, more importantly, I get support from the other volunteers in this group.  They recommend me to friends, buy products from my company, and some have registered for a special massage workshop for greyhounds that I am holding.  It’s another case of win-win.

So my plea to rescue groups and other charities is to think about the owner-operated businesses in your area.  What can they do for you but also what can you do for them?

Corporate sponsorship is a different model when dealing with a smaller business and it’s based on relationships.  Please don’t approach us for ‘free stuff’ without offering anything in return.

A little boy meets a greyhound at our garage sale

A little boy meets a greyhound at our garage sale

Kathleen Crisley, specialist in dog massage, rehabilitation and nutrition/food therapy, Canine Catering Ltd, Christchurch, New Zealand

A closer relationship than with siblings

Matt Cassels had at least 10 pets when he was growing up and yet it had never occurred to him to think about how important his relationships with them were. Until he came to Cambridge and started working on a rich data set from the Toddlers Up Project led by Professor Claire Hughes at the Centre for Family Research.

This 10-year longitudinal study of children’s social and emotional development included a section on children’s relationships with their pets, as well as a broad range of other data from the children, their parents, teachers, and siblings.

William and Peaches 2008 Credit: Amy McCartney

William and Peaches 2008
Photo Credit: Amy McCartney

Matt was looking for a research topic for his MPhil in Social and Developmental Psychology. He says: “The data on pet relationships stood out as it had never occurred to me to consider looking at pet relationships although I had studied children’s other relationships for some time and even though my own experience of pets while I was growing up was so important.”

Research on pet relationships has been going on for some time, but few studies have used the same tool to compare children’s relationships with pets with their other relationships or have focused on how the quality of pet relationships affects outcomes for children.

Matt decided that was what he wanted to focus on. What he found surprised him. He had thought strong pet relationships would make for happier children, but the truth was more complex.

Instead he discovered that children who had suffered adversity in their lives, such as a bereavement, divorce, instability and illness or were from disadvantaged backgrounds, were more likely to have a stronger relationship with their pets than their peers, although they did less well academically and suffered more mental health problems.

Matt says this may be because they come from backgrounds that predispose them to such problems. Despite this, the study showed children with stronger relationships with their pets had a higher level of prosocial behaviour – such as helping, sharing, and co-operating – than their peers. The study also demonstrated that these children, particularly girls and those whose pet was a dog, were more likely to confide in their pets than in their siblings.

Matt says: “It is really surprising that these children not only turn to their pets for support when faced with adversity, but that they do so even more than they turn to their siblings. This is even though they know their pets don’t actually understand what they are saying. “

Asked why the research might show girls talk and argue with their pets more than boys when previous less detailed research tends to suggest it is boys who have a better relationship with their pets, Matt adds: “They may feel that their pets are not judging them and since pets don’t appear to have their own problems they just listen. Even confiding in a journal can be therapeutic, but pets may be even better since they can be empathetic.”

Matt’s research was based mostly on data collected when the children, 88 of whom had pets at the time, were 12 years old, 10 years after they had begun participating in this study. The children, their parents, siblings, and teachers all provided information on prosocial behaviour, emotional wellbeing, academic ability, and children’s relationship with their pet. Matt measured this information against how much children confided in their pet, how much they argued with their pet, what satisfaction they got out of their relationship with their pet, and how often they did things with their pet each day.

To do so he used a new pet attachment scale adapted from an established and psychometrically validated measure of human attachment. His results supported the validity of using the tool and of considering human-animal relationships in similar terms to human-human relationships. “I had to first prove that it was valid to talk about child pet relationships in the same way we talk about sibling relationships and that we were not indulging in anthropomorphism. My research found the tool was better than those that have previously been available so the possibilities for future research in this area are exciting.”

Matt, who is now doing a PhD in the Psychiatry Department with the support of a Gates Cambridge Scholarship, has written two papers on his research, which are currently under review for publication. He says there is a lot more that could be done with the Toddlers Up data, for instance, looking at the impact of pet deaths on children.

“Pets are relatable and ubiquitous,” he says. “In the US and England pets are more common in families with young children than resident fathers and yet we don’t quantify how important they are to us.”

Source:  University of Cambridge press release

Doggy quote of the month for April

“Look at our relationships with other people.  Most of us are not as dependable as animals.”

– Gregory Castle, CEO of Best Friends Animal Society