When disaster strikes, news reports come fast and furious with constant updates and around the clock coverage. However, the coverage of earthquakes, tornadoes, hurricanes and floods is almost always human-focused; where animals are concerned, the media often has little to say, especially if those animals were to become food or be used as research subjects. In this interview Dr. Leslie Irvine explains how some animals are deemed more worthy of coverage than others, and how an animal’s sociological status affects how they are – or are not – protected when disasters occur. Covering both “natural” and “human-made” disasters, Dr. Irvine discusses the current state of animal protection in times of crisis, and gives practical suggestions for how the plight of animals can be ameliorated in the future.
Leslie Irvine is Associate Professor of Sociology at the University of Colorado at Boulder. She received her Ph.D. from the State University of New York at Stony Brook. Her research focuses on the role of animals in society. She has studied animal sheltering, human-animal relationships, and most recently, animals in disasters. Her book, titled Filling the Ark: Animal Welfare in Disasters, urges us to rethink our use of animals that put them in harm’s way. She is also the author of If You Tame Me: Understanding Our Connection with Animals, and numerous articles on our relationships with other species.
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