Human-Animal Bond: Attachment vs. Objectification

ECU Author/Contributor (non-ECU co-authors, if there are any, appear on document)
Magdalen Walton (Creator)
East Carolina University (ECU )
Web Site:
Christa Reiser

Abstract: The bond between human beings and their pets is multi-faceted. Some doting "parents" view their companion animals as members of their families while others maintain the more traditional expectation of service or commodification. Similar to the diversity evident in pet ownership the relationship between humans and farm animals also varies broadly. Livestock on family farms are treated as sentient beings where they are properly socialized and treated respectfully. In dramatic contrast factory raised farm animals are treated inhumanely. Research has shown that human-pet relationships can influence our level of concern and knowledge for other animals. However little if any research has been done to examine if relationships with companion animals influence concern for animals raised in factory farms. In order to evaluate this relationship a quantitative telephone survey of pet owners in Pitt County North Carolina was conducted. Respondents were asked a series of questions about their relationships with their pets which allowed them to be placed in one of three categories of human-pet bond: humanist protectionist or dominionist as described by David Blouin (2009). Respondents were also asked a series of questions about their concern for and knowledge of industrialized raised farm animals. The purpose of this study was to examine whether pet owners' type of emotional attachment to their own animal or animals influenced their level of knowledge and concern for factory-raised farm animals. This study displayed that pet owners could loosely be placed into one of Blouin's three orientations of human-pet bond using a simple qualitative sample. However the typology needs revision. The type of human-pet bond was not found to influence level of knowledge of factory-raised farm animals but was related to level of concern for the animals. 

Additional Information

Date: 2013
Sociology, Factory Farms, Farm Animal, Human-Animal Bond, Pets

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