As expected, I can see an increase in using “anthrozoology” by individuals without proper education and a complete misunderstanding of this field. It is being used only for social, political, economic and other personal human interests. Why do we do it? Because we can.
Anthrozoology is the study of the relationship and interaction between human and non-human species, involving different areas of the natural and social sciences. It’s not about the benefits of non-humans to humans.
My field in anthrozoology, since 2008 (I am a “solitary knight” in this specific field so far), is the behavior modification (popular “training”) in companion animals. I study and research, mostly in-person, the interactions with humans (trainers and owners) and them. Then, I create statistics, models and update the earlier ones in order to have a precise approach to specific situations. I complement my studies with other fields and researches.
As a person educated in the area that daily study, research, and create scientific/empiric models in animal training to inform the people adequately, I will not follow the current “one-side” benefits. Science should not have a price.
In companion animals, knowledge is being replaced by design, marketing strategies are creating utopian visions of how we will be “a better person and more animal friendly” if we buy product A or B.
I will always defend that all subjects and studies should be impartial and serious, whether or not the results are reliable for humans. Future research should not focus on the benefits from A to B (or vice versa), but the short, medium, and long-term consequences of these activities for both A and B respecting the scientific model integrally.
This view is due to the almost inexistence of studies on the harmful effects for non-human animals of their use for social, therapeutic and sporting activities. The few studies that exist at the moment are mostly with inconclusive results that “require further research.” Coincidentally (or not), some studies follow the popular market, the social trends and, with a quick search, we found that third parties involved in these areas sponsor them.
I’m afraid that anthrozoology is losing its scientific line and following a commercial line. It would be a dangerous path that we humans are building.
Critical Animal Studies- A threat?
Critical animal studies (CAS) is an interdisciplinary scientific field and theory-to-activism global community, which originated at the beginning of the 21st century. The core interest of CAS is ethical reflection on relations between people and other animals, firmly grounded in intersectionality and anarchism. Its aim is to integrate academic research with political engagement and activism. As it overlaps with a number of other disciplines, CAS includes scholars from a diverse range of fields, as well as animal rights activists. (Wikipedia)
Is CAS a threat to anthrozoology?
I don’t think. CAS is one more approach/view on this “adolescent” field in our human societies.
Like everything in our life, balance is needed. I would say that we shouldn’t elitise these areas, nor create extremes. We need reflection, discussion and a properly argumentation.
If CAS has questions that “the other side” cannot explain or argues with, it means that there is no knowledge yet, and vice versa. So, all discussion must be a bridge to learn and envolve together. Our goal (I believe) is the same.
The future of non-human animals in our societies depends on our actions and decisions.
The obsession with defending something cannot misrepresent scientific reality, nor should science be an instrument for such.
The right choice? I believe we are still very far from knowing. Thus, less clash and more debate is important.
In conclusion (My view)
- Anthrozoology exists to study and at the same time to question and research the use of animals in different societies and cultures to discuss all controversial subjects with skepticism and to show all the present facts and possible future consequences of our current actions.
- Is domestication good or bad? Why should an animal be trained? Is selective breeding really necessary? What about animals used in sports, social therapy/assistance/support, zoos, and other activities/purposes created by humans for humans? Which right do we have to invade their brains, manipulate them and study them? Can we really provide animal welfare in an artificial environment like ours? Why should we continue domesticate and keeping animals? Is it time to let them go? There are challenging questions that should be discussed in a pragmatic (not emotional) view. I believe that the future studies will finally show how the human hand is destroying the species that we use for our own wish only.
- This great distinctive view it is all about culture and social morality, which allows the use of nonhuman animals as a family, as a tool or a food product, each one of them with specific ethical laws, rules and procedures, especially with economic proposals and social manipulation around the “welfare” word.
- But the truth is that it is the use of animals in our society that determine their success of survival.
- We live in a society where some we love, some we ignore, some we use, some we eat and some we hate.
- I defend that we need honestly discuss this issue with skeptical questions and a truly open and critical mind, not with conditioned social responses, “right or wrong” hate speech or political decisions that are only beneficial to one side. We have already seen that does not work. It’s time (1) to leave the offices and see the real world and/or (2) to give an opportunity to the practical technicians on the field.
- Please, be critical on this subject, always ask that people for their education and experience in the area, read the studies and articles carefully (including the sponsorships and related references), and think out of the crowd.
- Until then, I’ll try to do my best for them. I will not be their voice. I will try to give them a voice.