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Establishing a framework to understand the regulation and control of dogs in urban environments: a case study of Melbourne, Australia

By Simon Bruce Carter

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This study examines the effectiveness of animal management from a critical theory perspective, establishing a framework to describe the animal management activities of local government. In creating sustainable cities, local government must critically engage with the management of other species which live alongside humans. Despite around 40 % of Australian households owning a dog, there is relatively scarce scholarly attention paid to animal management as a subject in its own right. There are numerous studies examining the need to regulate dogs, however there are relatively few studies which examine the effectiveness of regulation.

This study adopts interpretive qualitative content analyses of documentary and interview accounts to critically describe the practice of animal management and suggest why it takes place the way it does. An ontological-methodological framework is introduced to frame the practice of animal management, relating the methodology of animal management to the underlying ontological orientation of local government. This study highlights some institutional conditions which allow particular animal management activities to flourish. Enforcement of barking dog nuisance and responsible dog ownership education are shown to demonstrate attributes of regulatory success. Conversely, enforcement of effective control and community education processes demonstrate some attributes of regulatory failure.

This study demonstrates how institutional ontology and methodology affect the practice of animal management. This study provides animal management officers and local government with a means to critically examine particular approaches to animal management in practice, offering an opportunity to improve the effectiveness of animal management functions in local government. In contributing to improving the awareness of local government as to how they plan for and manage dogs, this study contributes to a broader community consideration of dogs as a beneficial part of society.


Marcy Wilhelm-South

Purdue University

Publication Title SpringerPlus
Volume 5
Pages 13
Publisher Springer
DOI 10.1186/s40064-016-2843-8
Cite this work

Researchers should cite this work as follows:

  1. Animal management
  2. Animal roles
  3. Dogs
  4. Government
  5. Institutions
  6. Laws and regulations
  7. Mammals
  8. Ontologies
  9. open access
  1. open access