BOOKS: Just A Dog: Understanding Animal Cruelty & Ourselves

From ANIMAL PEOPLE, January-February 2007:

Just A Dog: Understanding Animal
Cruelty & Ourselves by Arnold Arluke
Temple University Press (1601 N. Broad St., Philadelphia,
PA 19122), 2006. 221 pages, paperback. $22.95.

Arnold Arluke in Brute Force: Policing Animal Cruelty (2004)
studied the sociology of humane investigators. Just A Dog summarizes
that work, then comparably examines the sociology of juveniles who
commit cruelty, animal hoarders, shelter workers, and the
marketers who use cruelty cases to raise funds and reinforce the
stature of humane societies. Veterans of humane work will find few
if any surprises in Arluke’s often plodding analysis, but the less
experienced may find the 35 pages about marketing and fundraising an
invaluable introduction to the art of balancing public
expectations–and especially donor expectations–with reality.

Unfortunately, after painstakingly studying everything else
he discusses, Arluke concludes with a chapter of broadly generalized
fulminations about “the media” which include no survey data and no
perspectives from within journalism, tends to blame reporters for
the often muddled attitudes of sources and subjects, fails to
distinguish reporters from opinion columnists (who often lack formal
journalistic training), and gives no recognition to the widely
differing roles, standards, and practices of print, broadcast,
and electronic media.

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