Citizen Canine: Our Evolving Relationship with Cats and Dogs

Citizen Canine: Our Evolving Relationship with Cats and Dogs

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by David Grimm
     
 

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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 become legal persons.

How did we get here—and what happens

Overview


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 become 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 traces the rich and surprising history of our favorite companion animals, 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 as he searches for the animal survivors of Hurricane Katrina, and coming face to face with wolves and feral cats—Grimm explores the changing social attitudes that have transformed 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 lab rats and livestock 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 will not only fundamentally change our relationship with these animals, but transform society itself.

For pet lovers or anyone interested in how we decide who gets the coveted status of "person", Citizen Canine is a must read. It is a pet book like no other.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
01/13/2014
Grimm, deputy news editor at Science, investigates the ever-changing roles played by cats and dogs throughout history and travels the U.S. speaking to those on the cutting edge of animal science and welfare. He visits the Washington National Cathedral for the Blessing of the Animals and rides along with a detective in the LAPD’s Animal Cruelty Task Force. At Wolf Park, outside of Lafayette, Ind., Grimm discusses theories of dog domestication; an animal rescue leader recalls her sobering experience in New Orleans during Hurricane Katrina; and a biological anthropologist weighs in on canine cognition, noting how understanding the evolution of canine intelligence helps us understand our own. He also attends a Military Working Dog program, checks out an Indianapolis organization responsible for some 200,000 feral city cats, and argues against harmful pit bull stereotypes while attending a Baltimore parade intended to raise awareness of these false reputations. Historically, he traces the 13th-century “downfall of the cat” by Papal Inquisition that ultimately led to the Black Plague, the founding of the ASPCA, and a legal battle to ex-communicate crop-consuming rats in medieval France. Grimm’s most valuable contribution, though, is his reasoned and well-researched discussion of the pet “personhood” movement, particularly its legal implications for veterinarians, scientific research, and agriculture. Agent: Hornfischer Literary Management. (Apr.)
From the Publisher

“An engaging account of how dogs and cats came to be our best friends."—Michiko Kakutani, New York Times

"A fascinating account of how our conceptions of dogs and cats are changing - and what the outcome may mean for their futures. I was gripped throughout."—John Bradshaw, New York Times bestselling author of Dog Sense and Cat Sense

“Grimm traces the evolution of today's pets, from once being considered feral beasts and valueless subjects to family members and quasicitizens. The author's research includes fascinating travels across the country interviewing detectives investigating animal cruelty cases, soldiers training military working dogs, and animal law attorneys, and he also visits a wolf sanctuary…Engrossing, enjoyable, and well-researched.”—Library Journal, starred

“Grimm, deputy news editor at Science, investigates the ever-changing roles played by cats and dogs throughout history and travels the U.S. speaking to those on the cutting edge of animal science and welfare. [His] most valuable contribution…is his reasoned and well-researched discussion of the pet “personhood” movement, particularly its legal implications for veterinarians, scientific research, and agriculture.”—Publishers Weekly

"Our most common pets—cats and dogs—have made a long journey from wild animals to treasured family members. How did this transition happen? Science magazine editor and journalist Grimm explores the biological changes in cats and dogs as well as human laws and social attitudes in his broad survey of what our companion animals mean to us…Well researched and also very personable, this book will make readers think as they look into the eyes of those furry beings that share their lives.”—Booklist

"Grimm does an excellent job of documenting how Fido became family and how that relationship may be changing,"—Science News

“Well-researched, wide ranging, and well-written. A must read for those who share their lives with dogs and cats. You’ll come to realize that our interactions with these animals are central to defining who we are.”—Marc Bekoff, author of The Emotional Lives of Animals and Why Dogs Hump and Bees Get Depressed

“CITIZEN CANINE is a fascinating journey through time and space, documenting our relationship with our closest domestic friends. Meticulously researched and brilliantly written, Grimm's work is relevant, not just to every dog and cat lover, but anyone interested in how we came to be the humans we are today.”
Dr. Brian Hare, Associate Professor of Evolutionary Anthropology, Duke University, and author of the New York Times Bestseller, The Genius of Dogs

“David Grimm brings a uniquely balanced perspective to a subject that is often overwrought with emotions: the modern relationship between pets and their people. Whether you are a devoted pet lover or a skeptical spouse, "Citizen Canine" is as entertaining as it is eye-opening.”—Ken Foster, bestselling author of The Dogs Who Found Me and I'm a Good Dog

“No one who loves cats and dogs should miss this book. Grimm tackles the tough questions of our times: Should cats and dogs, and other animals be regarded as persons? Would they be happier leading feral lives? Grab this book and read it now for some surprising and inspiring answers.”—Virginia Morell, author of Animal Wise, a Kirkus Reviews "Best Book of 2013"

“An arresting and valuable overview, it’s packed with inspiration and imagination for our future relationship with our four-legged friends.”—Seattle Kennel Club

Citizen Canine is an easy, enjoyable, must-read for all who want to know more about these fascinating beings.”—The Bark

“A fascinating exploration of the changing status of dogs and cats in society.”—Cat Fancy

“Engaging… fascinating… enlightening...Anyone who wants to gain a better understanding of how our relationships with cats and dogs evolved will find this book enlightening.”—The Conscious Cat

Kirkus Reviews
2014-02-13
Science deputy news editor Grimm (Journalism/Johns Hopkins Univ.) looks at the pros and cons of granting citizenship to our pets—a far-out idea, to be sure, but one gaining traction with some on the fringe of the animal rights movement. At issue is the evolving status of the cats and dogs who have traveled a long road with our species, from camp followers in our hunter-gatherer days to treasured family members today, helping to shape our civilization while being themselves transformed. "Nearly a third of all Americans and half of all singles say that they rely more on their pets than on other people for companionship," writes the author. They fill the void in our lives "created by technology and our disintegrating relationships," and we spent a mind-boggling $55 billion on them last year, up 2.5 times from our expenditure in 2000. This state of affairs is reflected in the growing number of laws protecting animals from abuse and the efforts of animal rights activists to shut down puppy mills, stop the confinement of chickens in factory farms and abolish the use of animals for medical experiments. While some advocate direct action, others support the Animal Defense Fund, which models itself on the NAACP and draws an analogy between our treatment of animals and the treatment of black slaves—a comparison that some may well consider offensive. The ADF is taking legal cases that give them "a shot at chipping away at the property status of animals," and animal rights litigation is becoming a recognized legal specialty taught at leading universities. Grimm also reports the views of opponents of the ADF, who question putting animal abuse on par with child abuse, veterinarians who object to frivolous malpractice suits, and other critics. He does not subscribe to giving animals citizenship, but he does believe "that the quest for inclusion defines us all, animal and man." A challenging notion that fails to adequately address the implicit downgrading of our broader responsibilities as citizens.
Library Journal
★ 04/01/2014
Many American households have companion dogs and/or cats that are considered family members, even surrogate children. Cat owner Grimm (deputy news editor, Science) explores, through changes in social attitudes and laws, how our furry friends attained such an esteemed status. Citing various historical and legal writings from the Middle Ages through the early 20th century, Grimm traces the evolution of today's pets, from once being considered feral beasts and valueless subjects to family members and quasicitizens. The author's research includes fascinating travels across the country interviewing detectives investigating animal cruelty cases, soldiers training military working dogs, and animal law attorneys, and he also visits a wolf sanctuary. The chapter on the search for pet survivors of Hurricane Katrina is heart-wrenching, yet from this tragedy new rules were created to rescue cats and dogs in natural disasters, exemplifying how attitudes toward them have changed. VERDICT This engrossing, enjoyable, and well-researched title contributes positively to the literature on companion animals and belongs in all libraries.—Eva Lautemann, formerly with Georgia Perimeter Coll. Lib., Clarkston

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781610391337
Publisher:
PublicAffairs
Publication date:
04/08/2014
Pages:
352
Sales rank:
1,311,880
Product dimensions:
6.40(w) x 9.30(h) x 1.40(d)

Meet the Author


David Grimm is a deputy news editor at Science, the world's largest journal of scientific research and science news. He is the recipient of the 2010 Animal Reporting Award from the National Press Club, and has received multiple honors for his writing from the Humane Society of the United States. His work has appeared in Science, U.S. News and World Report, and The Financial Times. He teaches journalism at Johns Hopkins University and has a Ph.D. in genetics from Yale.

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Citizen Canine: Our Evolving Relationship with Cats and Dogs 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is an enjoyable easy to read book. It presents historic and current day info about the place of dogs and cats with humans. I found that I already knew some of the information but had not considered its possible outcomes. I enjoyed the time I spent with this book and find myself still thinking about and discussing with others some of the points of view that were presented.