Health politics in the imbrication of information technologies with canine and human lives: Insights from a “model city” for regulating pets and their people

Authors: Morgan Mouton*, University of Calgary, Melanie Rock, University of Calgary
Topics: Animal Geographies, Urban Geography
Keywords: Public health, animal geographies, urban governance
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/12/2018
Start / End Time: 8:00 AM / 9:40 AM
Room: Estherwood, Sheraton, 4th Floor
Presentation File: No File Uploaded

Across North America, 30% of households on average include a dog. This figure has important implications for public health and urban politics. On the one hand, dog-walking comprises physical activity, and can augment neighbourly interactions. On the other hand, being bitten or chased by a dog remains a common cause of injury and of social conflict, to the extent that fear of dogs may deter others from occupying public space (e.g., children, their parents, older adults). Indeed, dog-related complaints are amongst the most contentious and time-consuming matters handled by municipal governments.

This presentation seeks to explore the public health dimension of pet-related policies at the municipal level, with the City of Calgary serving as a case in point. This Canadian city has a reputation, across Canada and internationally, for managing dogs without recourse to a ‘breed ban’ or breed-specific legislation (BSL). Key to the implementation of its animal-control policies is a dog-licensing database, and officials estimate compliance with licensing at 90%. By examining how the City of Calgary collects information about dogs and their owners, as well as how these data are used and by whom, this presentation will discuss socio-spatial politics in cities as multi-species zones.

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