The Individual Animal is a podcast about dogs, people, and discrimination co-hosted by Nicole Juchem and Regina Lizik. In this podcast, we’ll talk about the socio-political implications of how we treat dogs and what that says about how we treat each other. Racism, classism, ableism and all other forms of human injustice are at the root of canine discrimination. We can’t change things for animals until we get honest about our own issues. Grab a beer, coffee, wine, or just stay hydrated and drink some water, and listen to us talk about science, dogs, and how we can all be better humans.
"I might be really pleasant today and tomorrow I might not"
We know that those of you who work in shelters and rescues want to know what we look for when we select candidates for our service dog program. Maybe there's a local program that similar to ours, or maybe you have a great dog who you think would be good for us.
In this episode of the Individual Animal, Bernice and Nikki take us through the process from beginning to end.
Read more here.
"I'll have to send you some tips"
In the latest episode of the Individual Animal, "I'll Send You Some Tips," we interview Caitlin Quinn of HeARTs Speak to talk about marketing shelter pets.
While the entirety of the episode isn't about Covid-19, one of the reasons we wanted to have Caitlin on the show was to discuss ways shelters can market their dogs during this time. How do you discuss current events and bring levity to a situation without crossing a line that gives off a dismissive vibe?
This can be a challenge, especially if you're a lover of dark humor. That's why we asked Caitlin that tough question of how the heck do you market shelter pets during a pandemic? To hear her expert opinion, push play now!
For resources from HeARTs Speak, check out their Covid-19 communication tools and resources.
Don't Go There, That's the Bad Part of Town
“Don't Go There, That's the Bad Part of Town,” is something people used to say to this week’s guest on the Individual Animal. When Kim Wolf lived in New York, people would tell her to stay out of neighborhoods because they judged people based on socio-economic and racial stereotypes. But Kim isn’t one to do what people tell her, because she knows that stereotypes don’t solve problems and that talking to individuals does.
Kim, a former AFF employee, has worked in both animal welfare and in human services. She’s always gone places people told her not to go and when she does, she makes sure she paves a path for people to follow.
Read more on our website.
This Is One Mistake People Make When Adopting a Dog
We confess the title of this article is a bit clickbaity, because as we learn from our podcast guest, Janis Bradley, dogs and people have been working things out and creating happy families together for centuries.
Still, we wanted to have Janis on this episode of the Individual Animal to talk about the relevance of breed in choosing a companion animal – and that is not-so-coincidentally the name of her book, which you can order here.
Big spoiler: Breed isn’t all that relevant. It’s the personality that matters.
For full references and more information, visit our website.
Part 2: Is the Language We Use in Animal Welfare Harmful?
Listen to part 1 of this series.
“Pound.” “Stray.” “Abandoned.” “Problem.” “Kill shelter.”
“Dogs nobody wants.”
These are not simply words and phrases. They are value judgments we place on dogs and people. Words have meaning and often, they have an impact that is greater than our intent.
Cynthia Bathurst once said “Language reflects habit, not thought,” meaning that we often choose terms that are easy, familiar, and comfortable without taking the time to reflect on how those terms fit into the context of today’s society - or even whether or not those words and phrases truly reflect what we mean to say.
In animal welfare, how we use language affects the animals in our care, the people who care for those animals and the people who want to give those animals homes. It also impacts the general public, some of whom may never interact with our animals at all.
In this episode of the Individual Animal, Cynthia Bathurst, the Executive Director of Safe Humane Chicago, joins Nikki, Regina, and Stacey to talk about why language matters. We discuss specific terms, some of which we mention above.
We also touch on some beloved phrases like “forever home” and “foster fail,” because even words that come from the best intentions can carry negativity that can create impossible standards for individuals to live up to.
Sioux City Lawsuit: The Deposition of Cindy Rarrat
Welcome to a special edition of the Individual Animal. What follows is a reenactment of the deposition of Cindy Rarrat. She is a private contractor working with Sioux City Animal Adoption and Rescue Center.
Animal Farm Foundation is helping to bring a lawsuit against Sioux City's "pit bull" dog ban.
The website for the lawsuit states:
"Despite acknowledging that her officers have no training, she insists that they all know the breed standards for the breeds included in the ban and that they have enough animal experience to know exactly what characteristics make a pit bull a pit bull, though she cannot name those characteristics herself. "Forty years of experience tells me I know." Cindy maintains that certain breeds are more aggressive than others, and that physical characteristics are indicative of behavior. When presented with science that states even experienced people misidentify breeds based on visual identification 60% of the time, Cindy insists that her visual identification and knowledge trumps all while also insisting that breed determinations are made by consensus at animal control."
Rarrat's deposition shows that lack of training and knowledge the animal control officers of Sioux City have.
You can learn more about the lawsuit and read the depositions at siouxcitylawsuit.org and donate to help us end breed-specific legislation.
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Thought provoking podcast