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In the Company of Animals: A Study of Human-Animal Relationships (Canto Original Series)

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In the Company of Animals

A Study of Human-Animal Relationships (Canto Original Series)

By James Serpell

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Format: Paperback, 316 pages, Revised Edition
Other Information: 22 b/w illus.
Published In: United Kingdom, 13 August 1996
What purpose, if any, do pets really serve? Are they simply an outlet for misplaced love? Or four-legged friends who help us to satisfy vital emotional needs? Whatever they are, when we elevate pets to the status of social companions, we undermine the distinction between human and non-human. In other words, pets force us to confront the moral contradictions inherent in our treatment of animals in general. Pursuing this idea to its logical conclusion, the author uncovers a fascinating and disturbing trail of myths, evasions and double standards which humans have used since earliest times to justify their subjugation of nature and other life forms. Through an exploration of the phenomenon of pet-keeping across history and between cultures, this thought-provoking study reassesses our relationships with animals and the natural world. This new edition of In the Company of Animals has been substantially revised and updated to take into account developments in research since 1986.

Table of Contents

Part I. A Paradox: 1. Of pigs and pets; Part II. The Case Against Pets: 2. Substitutes for people; 3. Instruments of follie; 4. Pets in tribal societies; 5. A cuckoo in the nest; Part III. An Alternative View: 6. Pets as panacea; 7. Health and friendship; 8. Four-legged friends; Part IV. Exploitation and Sympathy: A Conflict of Interests: 9. The myth of human supremacy; 10. Killer with a conscience; 11. Licensed to kill; 12. The fall from grace.

About the Author

James Serpell is the Marie A. Moore Professor of Humane Ethics and Animal Welfare at the School of Veterinary Medicine, University of Pennsylvania, where he also directs the Center for the Interaction of Animals & Society. He received his bachelor's degree in Zoology from University College London (UK) in 1974, and his PhD in Animal Behavior from the University of Liverpool (UK) in 1980. He moved to his current position at the University of Pennsylvania in 1993. Dr. Serpell is the current President of the International Society for Anthrozoology (ISAZ). He serves on the editorial boards of most of the major journals on animal welfare, applied animal behavior, and human-animal interactions. His research focuses on the behavior and welfare of companion animals, the development of human attitudes to animals, and the history of human-animal relationships. In addition to publishing more than 70 journal articles and book chapters on these and related topics, he is the author, editor, or co-editor of several books including Animals & Human Society: Changing Perspectives (1994), The Domestic Dog: Its Evolution, Behavior & Interactions with People (1995), In the Company of Animals (1996), and Companion Animals & Us (2000).


YA Serpell begins with a discussion of society's utilitarian attitude toward factory-farmed livestock as opposed to its affectionate relationship with domestic pets. Comparing pigs with dogs and cats, he cites innumerable research projects, case histories, and anecdotes as he attempts to answer the question of why pigs aren't subject to the same ethical considerations as are cats and dogs. Authors and scientists from ancient times to the present are quoted in his maelstrom of curious and contradictory findings. The principal reasons for keeping pets, their effect upon the owners, and reasons for particular breeding practices are included. Serpell also cites the psychological ramifications of pet keeping. A fascinating study for pet lovers, and of special interest to anthropology and science classes. Mary Wadsworth Sucher, Baltimore County Reading Services

'Arguing by copious example in a thoroughly well-researched and well-written book, Serpell demonstrates that pet-keeping appeals both to a wide variety of cultures throughout the world, and to all social classes within Western society.' Stephen Jay Gould, The New York Review of Books 'In the Company of Animals is a work of cross-cultural panache. Serpell writes passionately and well about a subject that seems to have fallen between the cracks of specialisations. His overview is sweeping and provocative.' R. Z. Sheppard, Time Magazine '... why did James Serpell feel the need to write a book in defence of pet-keeping? Surely this is one aspect of human behaviour that requires no advocacy. But read on. Indeed, read his book, for it is full of fascinating comments on a subject that many of us have taken for granted.' Desmond Morris, BBC Wildlife

EAN: 9780521577793
ISBN: 0521577799
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Dimensions: 21.69 x 14.12 x 2.03 centimetres (0.40 kg)
Age Range: 15+ years
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