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Dogs and People in Aboriginal Communities: Exploring the Relationship within the Context of the Social Determinants of Health

By Kate Senior, Richard Chenhall, Eva McRae-Williams, Daphne Daniels, Keith Rogers

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Abstract

Aboriginal people and dogs have a very long association. The archaeological evidence suggests that the dingo, which was intentionally brought to Australia, was present from about 3500 years ago. Dogs introduced by European settlers quickly replaced or interbred with dingoes at Aboriginal settlements. The outsiders' view of Aboriginal dogs appears to be polarised into two distinct groups. Dogs are either described as a health risk and a reservoir for a range of diseases, or are glossed over as being sacred and ceremonially important. Neither view has really examined the complexity of Aboriginal relationships with the dog, or the fact that attitudes towards dogs might be variable from region to region, and that attitudes to dog and dog ownership are not culturally static. This paper provides a review of the anthropological literature concerning people's relationships with dogs and the perceived function of dogs in communities, supplemented by insights from research in South East Arnhem Land. It will then relate these findings to dog health and dog control programs and stress the importance of developing these within a community development framework.

Submitter

Mason N McLary

HABRI Central

Date 2006
Publication Title Environmental Health: The Journal of the Australian Institute of Environmental Health
Volume 6
Issue 4
Pages 39-46
ISBN/ISSN 1832-3367
Publisher Environmental Health Australia, Inc.
URL http://espace.cdu.edu.au/view/cdu:2232
Language English
Additional Language English
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Tags
  1. Australia
  2. Dogs
  3. Health
  4. Indigenous populations
  5. Mammals
  6. Physical environment
  7. Public health
  8. Social Environments