Just a Dog

Understanding Animal Cruelty and Ourselves

Arnold Arluke
Book Cover

PB: $30.95
EAN: 978-1-59213-472-4
Publication: Jun 06

HC: $90.50
EAN: 978-1-59213-471-7
Publication: Jun 06

Ebook: $30.95
EAN: 978-1-59213-473-1

232 pages
6 x 9

How can we make sense of acts of cruelty towards animals?

Read the Introduction (pdf).


Psychiatrists define cruelty to animals as a psychological problem or personality disorder. Legally, animal cruelty is described by a list of behaviors. In Just a Dog, Arnold Arluke argues that our current constructs of animal cruelty are decontextualized-imposed without regard to the experience of the groups committing the act. Yet those who engage in animal cruelty have their own understandings of their actions and of themselves as actors. In this fascinating book, Arluke probes those understandings and reveals the surprising complexities of our relationships with animals. Just a Dog draws from interviews with more than 250 people, including humane agents who enforce cruelty laws, college students who tell stories of childhood abuse of animals, hoarders who neglect the welfare of many animals, shelter workers who cope with the ethics of euthanizing animals, and public relations experts who use incidents of animal cruelty for fundraising purposes. Through these case studies, Arluke shows how the meaning of "cruelty" reflects and helps to create identities and ideologies.

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments Introduction: Just a Dog 1. Agents: Feigning Authority 2. Adolescents: Appropriating Adulthood 3. Hoarders: Shoring Up Self 4. Shelter Workers: Finding Authenticity 5. Marketers: Celebrating Community Conclusion: Cruelty Is Good to Think References Index

About the Author(s)

Arnold Arluke is Professor of Sociology and Anthropology at Northeastern University and Senior Scholar at Tufts University Center for Animals and Public Policy. He has published over 70 articles and eight books, including Regarding Animals (Temple), Brute Force: Animal Police and the Challenge of Cruelty, and The Sacrifice: How Scientific Experiments Transform Animals and People. He also edits with Clinton Sanders the Animals, Culture, and Society series at Temple Press.


In the Series

  • Animals, Culture, and Society edited by Arnold Arluke and Clinton R. Sanders

    Animals, Culture, and Society, edited by Arnold Arluke and Clinton R. Sanders, is concerned with probing the complex and contradictory human-animal relationship through the publication of accessible books that consider the place of animals in our culture, our literature, our society, and our homes.