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Urban Animal Management: a naturalistic perspective

By David William Paxton

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The thesis uses a naturalistic perspective derived from Darwin’s theory of the origin of species by natural selection to propose that human beings and dogs co-evolved in an interdependent relationship which needs to be taken into account by makers of public policies about urban dogs. An association with dogs is thus one facet of human nature and vice versa. The perspective is used to explain both the othering of animals by the human species and also the long and close association which the human species has with dogs. The complexity of that association is examined by reviewing quantitative and qualitative research data. The evolution of western thought about animals is followed through legislation on urban animal management, with particular reference to legislation in the Australian Capital Territory. Fieldwork included a visit to Jaipur, India. Refinements of Darwin’s theory which are used to further the argument for the co-evolution of human beings and dogs include the extended phenotype, cooperation to compete, exaptation, and the functional branch point and punctuated equilibrium in evolution. The naturalistic perspective used here is offered as a way of leavening the discourse of control of urban dogs that is argued to be the orthodox philosophy of urban animal management. Examples of the application of the naturalistic perspective are described. It is concluded that access to dog keeping is a deep seated biological need of the human species and should be fostered by policy makers.


Marcy Wilhelm-South

Purdue University

Date 1998
Pages 411
Degree Doctor of Philosophy
Language English
University The Australian National University
Cite this work

Researchers should cite this work as follows:

  1. Animal behavior
  2. Ecology
  3. Human-animal relationships
  4. Law and legal issues
  5. open access
  6. peer-reviewed
  7. Pet ownership
  8. urban areas
  1. open access
  2. peer-reviewed