Citizen Canine: Our Evolving Relationship with Cats and Dogs
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Cats and dogs were once wild animals. Today, they are family members and surrogate children. A little over a century ago, pets didn’t warrant the meager legal status of property. Now, they have more rights and protections than any other animal in the country. Some say they’re even on the verge of becoming legal persons.
How did we get here—and what happens next?
In this fascinating exploration of the changing status of dogs and cats in society, pet lover and award-winning journalist David Grimm explores the rich and surprising history of our favorite companion animals. He treks the long and often torturous path from their wild origins to their dark days in the middle ages to their current standing as the most valued animals on Earth. As he travels across the country—riding along with Los Angeles detectives as they investigate animal cruelty cases, touring the devastation of New Orleans in search of the orphaned pets of Hurricane Katrina, and coming face-to-face with wolves and feral cats—Grimm reveals the changing social attitudes that have turned pets into family members, and the remarkable laws and court cases that have elevated them to quasi citizens.
The journey to citizenship isn’t a smooth one, however. As Grimm finds, there’s plenty of opposition to the rising status of cats and dogs. From scientists and farmers worried that our affection for pets could spill over to livestock and lab rats to philosophers who say the only way to save society is to wipe cats and dogs from the face of the earth, the battle lines are being drawn. We are entering a new age of pets—one that is fundamentally transforming our relationship with these animals and reshaping the very fabric of society.
For pet lovers or anyone interested in how we decide who gets to be a “person” in today’s world, Citizen Canine is a must read. It is a pet book like no other.
they did, a lot more cruelty would be prosecuted, and a lot more cats and dogs would be removed from bad homes. A local humane society, perhaps now freed from the taxing work of animal control, could represent animals in court and provide a safe haven for them. Favre even thinks pets should be able to earn their own money, whether it be from a court settlement or a dog show. Thanks to the Uniform Trust Code, this is now possible. Still, like any citizen, pets wouldn’t have rights without
Washington, DC, 8–11 National Humane Society, 120 Natufians, 30, 34 Neanderthals, 29 Near Eastern wildcat, 33 Neglect, animal, 126–127 Neolithic period, 34, 36 New Jersey Veterinary Medical Association Hall of Fame, 219 New York State Bar Association, 255 Newell, Barbara, 152–153, 169 Newfoundlands, 137, 185–188 Newkirk, Ingrid, 251–252 Nile River valley, 38–39 No Kill shelters, 87, 161, 269–270 Noneconomic damages, 143–144, 164, 230, 237–238, 240, 242, 282 Nonhuman Rights
hit, Charlotte was a well-known figure in the animal rescue community. But the storm would turn her into a superstar. On the Sunday before Katrina, Charlotte saw the same apocalyptic National Weather Service bulletin Fay Bourg had. She didn’t even think about leaving. “The way I looked at it was, my house had been built in 1885. It had been through more hurricanes than had been recorded,” she tells me. “Hurricanes here are like backyard barbeques. You get off work, and it’s over after the
kennel, complete with pet bed, spill-resistant water bowl, and poop bag dispenser. As I continued to walk, the streets widened, and the buildings rose. I had reached downtown. There were hotels everywhere, but two caught my eye: one for humans and one for pets—though you might be hard-pressed to tell the difference. Charm City Dogs offers twenty-four-hour doggy day care that features orthopedic beds, agility classes, and food specially designed by a local chef. The Hotel Monaco, with its marble
who led his partner to a blind man drowning in New York’s East River. Two years later, the New York Times recounted the tale of a Greenwich, Connecticut, bull terrier who saved his female owner from a vicious setter, tackling the dog when it pulled the woman to the floor. Other stories spoke of “hero” bulldogs rescuing their masters from fires, burglars, and oncoming trains. Theodore Roosevelt had a bulldog in the White House. A pit bull named Stubby delivered messages between battalions in World