Dogs, Cats, and Their People: The Place of the Family Pet and Attitudes about Pet Keeping
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The perception of pets as ‘family members’ is an important area of research in the study of human-animal relationships. The objective of this thesis is to assess the ways in which pets are integrated into the home, and to explore how pet owners regard their dogs and cats within their constructed circles of kinship and social bonds. This research also examines a sample of attitudes toward some important issues with pet keeping, from what constitutes responsible pet guardianship to modern issues in animal welfare. Thirty-four participants were recruited, and data was collected through individual qualitative interviews. Data analysis shows the level of integration of the pet into the family has some correlations with the gender of the primary pet caretaker, and shows the impact of individual experiences of participants, particularly in childhood, which strongly influenced preferences of pet type, and their view of the role of animals in the home.