“Pound.” “Stray.” “Abandoned.” “Problem.” “Kill shelter.”
“Dogs nobody wants.”
These are not simply words and phrases. They are value judgments we place on dogs and people. Words have meaning and often, they have an impact that is greater than our intent.
In this two-part series of the Individual Animal podcast, Cynthia Bathurst, the Executive Director of Safe Humane Chicago, joins Nikki, Regina, and Stacey to talk about why what we say about dogs and people matters.
LISTEN TO PART 1
LISTEN TO PART 2
Cynthia Bathurst once said “Language reflects habit, not thought,” meaning that we often choose terms that are easy, familiar, and comfortable without taking the time to reflect on how those terms fit into the context of today’s society – or even whether or not those words and phrases truly reflect what we mean to say.
In animal welfare, how we use language affects the pets in our care, the people who care for those animals and the people who want to give those pets homes. It also impacts the general public, some of whom may never interact directly with us or our animals at all.
We also touch on some beloved phrases like “forever home” and “foster fail,” because even words that come from the best intentions can carry negativity that can create impossible standards for individuals to live up to.
Regina [00:00:00] Hi and welcome to the individual animal a podcast about dogs people and discrimination. You are listening to part 1 of our language episode. I am Regina and that is Nikki.
Nikki [00:00:14] Hey everybody, welcome to our show. And today we have two very special guests on our show. Someone that’s been with us many times before and we all know all too well, Stacy Coleman, our Executive Director is here with us today. Hi Stacy. How are ya.
Stacey [00:00:30] I’m good.
Nikki [00:00:31] Stacey, because you have such a great relationship with our other guest on the show today why don’t you go ahead and introduce Cynthia.
Stacey [00:00:39] Oh it’s my pleasure. So Cynthia Bathurst is joining us today. She calls the city of Chicago home. Although, her amazing life has taken her all over the country and all over the world where she has accumulated so many experiences in communication and the importance of language. She runs a program in the city of Chicago unlike any we’ve ever seen. And we were so pleased when we got to know her that we asked her if she would join us at the National Canine Research Council, which is the AFF science subsidiary, as one of our advisors. And for, oh my, maybe at least 10 years if not more now Cynthia has been on our advisory board for that entity, plus she just she’s just one of the good eggs. She travels all over the country and helps people help animals help people.
[00:01:39] She has her P HD as a rhetorician and we find her advice invaluable as we go forward and try to figure out how to talk about what it is that we do. So with that I’m so very pleased to introduce you to my friend and colleague Cynthia Bathurst. Cynthia. Welcome.
Cynthia [00:02:01] Thank you. Wow I am so honored. I don’t know what to say. Thank you very much. It’s actually a huge honor to be with you guys and to address these incredibly important issues.
Nikki [00:02:13] So Cynthia, why don’t you tell us a little bit more about Safe Humane Chicago?
Cynthia [00:02:19] Sure. Well, Safe Humane Chicago is actually what our organization, Safe Humane, does is a business because we’re currently in Chicago, but of course someday it’ll be Safe Humane the World. And the whole concept is to make it to bring together people who care about every being being safe and every being treated humanely. And to bring those two concepts together to say that you really can’t have a safe community if you don’t if you don’t treat others humanely. And if you’re treating everyone humanely, it may not be fully safe. But the key concept is that there are opportunities and programs to keep people and animals and all being safe. So safe humane strives to make safer and more humane communities by empowering and facilitating programs that bring people and animals together using the very best of the human non-human animal bond and using that in order to develop empathy compassion understanding but also positive beneficial relationships and opportunities.
[00:03:38] And so we just try to fill in the gaps. There are a lot of programs and ways you can do it. We came out of trying to prevent not just prevent violence but to actually promote positive beneficial ways of living in communities together. So we do programs with collaborative justice with court case dogs, our term dogs who’ve done the time but not the crime. We bring young people who are trying to re-enter the community or in under serviced areas that need more opportunities. We work with veterans with PTSD. So we pull in people who need some help need some maybe some life skills some job skills but also need to heal in some way because they’ve been affected by trauma and obviously the dogs we work with have been affected by trauma. We try to bring them all together and do better as a result. And that’s what we do here in Chicago through Chicago Animal Care and Control.
Stacey [00:04:46] It’s pretty amazing work. it’s nothing like I’ve ever seen done across the country some day. So thank you for that.
Cynthia [00:04:52] Thank you very much and I just love getting other people to do it. Because it all depends on what your community all communities are individuals right.
Stacey [00:05:00] Absolutely
Cynthia [00:05:02] It depends on what your community has and what you can build on to make it better for everyone.
Stacey [00:05:07] Well we are proud to have you as part of our team. And joining us on this call today on this podcast.
Regina [00:05:14] To get started Cynthia I I want you to expand a little bit on something that we say a lot around here and something that came from you which is language reflects habit not thought because a lot of people don’t understand why we are very particular about our language and that’s the reason.
[00:05:34] So can you explain that a little bit more so that people understand why we’re doing this podcast and why we make sometimes these even very subtle distinctions between words.
Stacey [00:05:45] Can I jump in here because I want to I want to set that story up. I’m sorry to interrupt you but I have to I have to tell the story of the first time I heard you say that is it OK?
Cynthia [00:05:55] If I am so glad because I think it’s important that was the first thing. So go for it.
Stacey [00:06:01] So I was a fledgling knew at my job at Animal Farm foundation. And I was on a trip with Jane Berkley who is the president and founder of Animal Farm Foundation. We were in a van traveling from a conference that we had been to in Las Vegas where we met up with Cynthia and Cynthia’s husband Jim Rogers. And we were driving from Las Vegas to Best Friends Animals Sanctuary. .
[00:06:41] I’m sitting in the back of the van just in and of that my life has taken this amazing turn and I get to do this now for my job and how lucky I am. I’m listening to Cynthia and Jane talk to each other. And you know the sun is setting and it’s really beautiful. As we’re driving through Zion and Jane and Cynthia speaking and Jane says, “well you know what they say is language reflects thought. And so we know that this is how people are thinking about the dogs.” When Cynthia stopped her and said, “no Jane. Language reflect habit.” And it was like this moment where all of us in the van all went, “ohhhhhh.”
[00:07:27] It’s that Thinking Fast and Slow sort of thing where we tend to speak from habit from what’s the easiest the closest thing to access rather than actually thinking about what it is we’re saying. So with that help us understand that.
Cynthia [00:07:45] Oh and you’re setting that up is so important because it just came so naturally when Jiang was speaking. And I think it makes clear to all of us and I am sure to everyone who is now listening, that when you when you’re using words and choosing words, you’re using those that you’re accustomed to – You habitually use in the community in which you’re around. So simply put if we as the community welfare, where community welfare is animals and people together don’t use language carefully and setup the right thinking patterns then that come from those words, we’re just going to keep people in their old habits in their old ways of thinking about it not reflecting the science and the good best practices that we’ve all developed. So yeah. Because language does reflect habit. We need to change the habits of people to words and concepts that are accurate or at least open minded enough reflecting evidence and good thinking.
Stacey [00:08:58] So I think about this a lot because this is what we do at Animal Farm. So since we fight discrimination, discrimination comes from inside the mind of the person perpetuating the discrimination. And it all stems from a habit of belief or thinking. Do you feel like or can you help me to understand, are people aware that they’re doing this? Is it intentional that they perpetuate these habits? Or is it just that it doesn’t even occur to them anymore?
Cynthia [00:09:41] I think that you know obviously it depends on the situation. But I don’t think it’s intentional for the most part. We’re using the words that our colleagues our friends our family are using to communicate with them in a way that makes it easy to continue a conversation. So I think they’re just using the words that they believe people understand and that they’re used to using. Once you understand the implications and what a big deal it is what huge consequences certain kinds of words and concepts can have. Then if you continue to use them, yeah that’s probably intentional.
[00:10:19] But until then people you know people aren’t thinking about it. Their language is not the result of their thinking through all of this. Not to say in parentheses that it’s not easy. We’ve been through a number of word changes concept changes open admission kill homes forever homes adoptable all those terms that now we think through and try to think reasonably and well about that we didn’t used to .so it’s it’s not easy. The transition is not easy but somebody’s got to take responsibility for making it clear what we’re really saying. And how people who haven’t thought it thought about it are taking that in and reinforcing what they may inadvertently think.
Nikki [00:11:14] We’re gonna go over a lot of animal related words that we use that we maybe don’t realize the effect that they have, but I think that we can also see a lot of parallels in society with the words that we use in society that I think society starting to really come to the conclusion that these words that they’ve tolerated in the past shouldn’t be tolerated, now.
[00:11:37] I know even in my own scenario where I’ve said things and Regina knows all too well where I try to shift my language now. You start to realize like I shouldn’t really be saying that word or this in this context. Even in society and outside of this animal business that we’re in, we have to really think about how we use the words that we use.
Regina [00:12:02] I think because what most of us don’t realize and I think it’s it’s a constant learning process too, our words don’t exist in a vacuum. Even if we just say them to one another and nobody else ever hears, them they still have an impact. They still exist in the larger context of society and we forget that we we forget that words do have power.
Cynthia [00:12:27] Exactly. Oh well said yes.
Regina [00:12:32] So do we want to jump into it. We have such a long list of terms to go through and some of them I think we’ll have longer explanations. And maybe some of them should even be their own separate podcast but should we just jump in?
Stacey [00:12:46] Can I ask before we before we even start with our list for Cynthia to explain the construct of language. Is that too big of a question? It’s just the the idea that of why words matter. So Regina had already said like words are powerful and they exist and they stay with us. But I don’t know as a rhetorician, do you have a way to explain it to us?
Cynthia [00:13:22] Ultimately you have to know your audience. So you have to know what your audience is thinking and how they relate to the words that they’re hearing. So if you can bring them along using the words and the concepts that they’re used to to, you bring them to another place that’s how communication happens. That’s how you and the conversation with, “Oh yeah I understand that.” or “Oh yes. That’s clear.” So we can’t just come from a particular point of view. For example those who work in shelters those who work in pet stores those who work in community centers where people have concerns about their children and their animals they all have a different way of hearing words and concepts.
[00:14:07] So I think that if we think that words can be taken out of that social construct, we are very very wrong. We we need to be aware of what we want the audience to do how they want to change. You can certainly irritate the heck out of somebody and you can certainly pass them off. But if our whole idea is to make the world better and more comprehensible, we’ve got to be able to think about those folks. So once we know what audience we’re talking to we need to be very careful about setting up different ways different rhetorical structures different arguments. Argument not meaning negative, but I mean an argument in a logical sense about how you get from one point to another. And we’re never going to get people to think about animals individually and then how we treat them in society if we can’t place them well in society with words. Do words matter? Yeah. Because that’s how we communicate with each other. And just like learning dog body language helps us learn to communicate with the dogs and not just in English or German or French or whatever.
Stacey [00:15:28] Great. Thank you.
Nikki [00:15:30] Let’s jump in. Are we ready to jump in? To our large list of language. OK so the first one we have on our list is “dogs nobody wants.”
[00:15:51] So this isn’t a specific word it’s just a mentality that we sometimes hear in sheltering and slightly a self-fulfilling prophecy. I feel like it kind of goes along with the other thing that we hear sometimes in sheltering which is our shelters are full of “pit bulls.”
[00:16:13] So these are two things that I think if we as shelter workers continue to speak like this it’s going to seriously affect how the people in our community see the dogs in our care. And you have already probably listened to our transport podcast, because that’ll go out before this one, where Sasha also talks about how once they changed the way they spoke about their dogs it made an incredible difference about how their dogs were seen in their communities.
Cynthia [00:16:53] I I just have to jump in and say I have a couple of pet peeves. Yeah. One is when someone says these are just dogs nobody wants. There’s so much negativity in that construction and even in the words. It does have to do with words. That word nobody is. Who is that? And it’s also a negative construction. It’s not everybody. It’s nobody, no person. Not only is it wrong and an exaggeration, but it also sets up a negative way to think about it from the start. And then you all are experts and we all are I hope getting more and more expert to just try to deal with the whole concept of pit bulls. That is a long story unto itself. And it’s a construct it’s not a dog.
Regina [00:17:47] Yeah. And those two things are really used together especially if we for those of you who who don’t know about Roger Haston, I’ll put a link to that whole issue in the blog and in the show notes. But these two things dogs nobody wants and shelters are full of “pit bulls,” he used those in the same sentence. And it’s a way to vilify dogs and to just lump them all together as something quote unquote bad. You know that’s that’s its own separate issue that Stacy and Cynthia and Nikki I don’t know if you guys want to get into that because that’s such a long topic but I think that we should talk about the real impact that has in communities though.
Cynthia [00:18:36] There is a way I’ll just quickly say this and I know you’ll have a lot but I think that there is a way to short circuit that. You can be talking to a group of people who are used to saying pit bulls and we can get into all of that. But if somebody said shelters have our full of or shelters have a lot of dogs that are perceived as pit bulls. And that word perceived and perception can get us into what we need to be doing and how we’re going to change people’s habits and therefore thoughts.
Regina [00:19:07] That’s interesting because you know we say dogs labeled pit bulls not perceived. And you know I feel like maybe we need to make that subtle shift to stop saying label and say perceived.
Cynthia [00:19:21] That’s a good point.
Regina [00:19:22] Other people may be thinking “well but that label is correct.” But by saying, perceived we’re sort of bypassing that and we’re just immediately explaining why the label is incorrect because it’s a perception because people still think labels are valid.
Cynthia [00:19:38] Right. So. True.
Regina [00:19:43] So that’s a lesson I’ve taken away from this.
Nikki [00:19:45] On that theme topic of just social constructs in general and people being a social contract struct and I was talking about not labeling dogs. What we’ve seen in sheltering is that what people will do now is, “OK well we’re not supposed to say pit bull,”sSo they’re just sort of shifting it to blocky headed dogs or bullies or power breeds. So these are you know another set of social constructs that these perceived pit bulls are getting slapped with. I love this “perceived.” Thank you so much Cynthia.
Cynthia [00:20:26] Oh you’re welcome. I say it all the time to people because when someone says to me you know what kind of dogs are here. I know they want me to say “pit bulls.” You can just see see that they want you to say that. So I’ve just started saying “well most most people who come here from the community perceive them as pitbulls” and then try to have a conversation about that and then take them to a particular dog and say, “Who is this dog?” Which I learned from all of you.
Nikki [00:20:59] Stacy do you have anything to add about blockheads. Power breeds those new labels?
Stacey [00:21:16] I have some compassion for the people who switch from one label to the other. And it’s because of what we’ve already learned about language is a habit. And it’s hard to break. They are in the habit of using a category label to talk about these dogs.
[00:21:38] And if we take that first choice away from them, then they feel like they have no choice but to replace it with something else. It just comes from another habit though they’re still incorrect and it’s still grouping based on physical appearance or perception of what a dog looks like. It’s still not correct and it’s still not helping. I have a little compassion for the people who do it.
Nikki [00:22:09] I want to move along to something a little bit more light hearted than that is, we often times say “foster fail.”.
[00:22:19] So if I foster a dog and end up staying forever and ever and ever and I end up adopting the dog we say foster fail, which just sounds so horrible because it’s such a great thing that you have a new dog in your home a new member of your family. And recently I forget who I heard this from… I think Stacy you might remember but we heard foster success which I think is such better language to use, such happier language to use because that’s what it is it’s a success.
Stacey [00:22:53] It might have been was that Tricia McMillan.
Nikki [00:22:55] It was! It was Trish.
Stacey [00:22:59] Yes that was the first time I heard it.
Nikki [00:23:01] Yeah so just a quick one that’s easy easy to switch over I think from Foster fail to foster success. I think that’s a pretty easy switch to me not a not a heavy topic to get into I don’t think.
Regina [00:23:17] Sort of along that note, we should get into something that also isn’t necessary… well, it can be heavy. But it’s… People love to say it just as much as they love to say “foster fail.” “Forever home.” That’s a thing that I used to say before I came here and it was one of the very early things that Nikki, you told me we don’t say and when you told me why it made complete sense, absolute sense. So let’s get into that. Who wants to take this one up to talk about why it’s not a good idea why it actually is dangerous and can cause real emotional damage to people.
Stacey [00:23:56] Right. Yeah. It’s unfair to the people who have no choice but to start with their family pet. And I think Cynthia should take this.
Cynthia [00:24:06] Sure. I think that people have been saying forever home because they’re focused on animals. They don’t mean to be negative. They just want to make sure that the animals are getting into a good place and can feel safe and comfortable. But by making it forever home, forever is a very long time and it’s not even realistic. In fact, it’s impossible. Not all adoptions last forever and that’s OK because sometimes there are problems in a home, there are illnesses, there are deaths, there are other circumstances and it doesn’t mean anything about the family or the community. It just means they can’t keep the animal forever. And truthfully why use more words when what we want is animals to have homes, as they shouldn’t be in shelters. They need not be on the streets. They need homes and all the positive energy of homes. So we don’t need forever home and the emotional baggage that comes with it.
Stacey [00:25:14] And I feel like too, it’s such a value judgment and I get what you’re saying that it’s it’s done with the best of intentions from the people who care about the animals and who are working in the shelters because we want the animals to go home and be in a home and that’s why we do it. But it’s it feels judgmental. And I think it’s an important and especially important phrase for you Cynthia to help us unpack and understand because you work with humans and with animals and what it does when you say forever home if that match doesn’t work out if it’s because something went wrong for the people or if it’s because that particular pet wasn’t the right fit for their home or maybe the pet if something happened and the pet isn’t a good fit or a good pet. And we were wrong about it and the pet has to come back to the shelter. It seems like it’s a value judgment on the people which seems really unfair.
Cynthia [00:26:18] I agree and also an animal from the animal’s point of view does want a home does want to feel safe. Sometimes those homes aren’t that. So we want home to be a good term a place where they feel safe and comfortable without any judgment about what happened or what can happen. That makes perfect sense.
Nikki [00:26:43] And speaking of value judgment, I was actually thinking about the podcast driving in the car the other day and what other language we use. And I came across a loose dog which happens occasionally. So you know I got the dog in my car you know got at home everything was fine but I was like, “Why do you always use the term stray dog?” And I wonder if that’s something that we should be talking about too. Because there’s not a bunch of stray dogs running around and I would say the majority if not all and correct me if you guys think I’m wrong here that get picked up by animal control or get picked up by the Good Samaritans out there are just loose dogs that got loose have a home.
Stacey [00:27:31] You’re right. You know what I the first time I heard anybody make that difference and shame on me for not thinking of it before now because I was speaking from habit, I always called it a stray dog, was when Mike Kaviani and he was on our livestream talking about behavioral euthanasia. He corrected me and said “I don’t like to use the term stray. I prefer to use the term loose dog because the dog belongs somewhere, we just don’t know where.” I think that’s such a good point I’m glad you brought this up. Cynthia sorted out I am not the one to speak to this because I said it completely wrong up until like three weeks ago.
Cynthia [00:28:10] Well I actually think it’s important for us not to label all those dogs as stray for those reasons, as well as working with lost dogs organizations where they use the word lost or loose as opposed to stray because so many people assume they don’t have a place to go, and that we can put them in a shelter and get them somewhere else without considering the family that may be looking for them. So I think stray has all kinds of you know implications also about the dog doing things wrong, people letting dogs out, which may not be the case. And I’m actually struggling a little bit with what to say because they’re not homeless dogs. We don’t know that. Maybe they are loose dogs or maybe they’re just lost dogs. I’m not sure which. Which one to say in what context.
Nikki [00:29:15] Yeah and they’re not always lost dogs either right? So I know around here we do have people that let their dogs outside and sometimes they go off their property, but they know where they’re going and they know how to get back. So sometimes they’re not even lost dogs because they know what they’re up to and where they’re headed. So you know, it’s a tough one.
Cynthia [00:29:37] Or not even roaming dogs so loose is probably the closest thing, because that means in legal language, in an ordinance language and laws, it’s you don’t want to say they’re unrestrained dogs because it’s kind of a goofy way to talk about it not the way we want to so loose might be much better. What do you think?
Nikki [00:29:55] Sounds good to me.
Regina [00:29:56] Yeah. And stray is just such a loaded term. I think that goes to something else that we have on our list when we talk about pound versus shelter, where like the connotation of the word stray goes to that mangy mutt thing that nobody says anymore, but you’ll hear a lot in old movies. I feel like it’s kind of synonymous with that and that’s not the reality of these dogs. These dogs maybe have homes or will be a great addition to a home. So when we say stray it feels like it’s demeaning the dog somehow.
Cynthia [00:30:37] Yes. And also oh you’re bringing up “pound.” I mean that’s been a pet peeve of mine for a long time. And most people don’t realize and so I usually start out introductions to groups that come to ACC and to some of our programs, I start out saying, “Why in the world did you ever call this place a pound?” And no one really knows. They just think it’s a dog pound. I said it’s like auto pound right? And they’re thinking…. And I said, “it comes from the verb impound. We impounded cars. We impound guns. We impound drugs. It’s a legal term that puts that property on the shelf.” And that’s the way dogs and other animals have been treated for a long time because they are property in all the states. And so it’s just another piece of property you put on a shelf or in the cage and that further demeans what we’re doing. It Demeans what shelters are doing and what we should be doing. So no one should use that word.
Nikki [00:31:36] Wow I had no idea. I always wondered why we called that a pound and I never put two and two together. So that’s really interesting. But I have seen that term used as like so we sort of have this divide in sheltering…. I don’t know if it’s underresourced or what it is. But I I’ve noticed that some times, I’ll hear the term pound be used for a shelter that maybe has a little bit less resources or isn’t as progressive as you know some of the other shelters that we work with. So it’s almost become like a nasty slang term between animal welfare people, where we’re saying “oh well, that’s a pound” and like a nasty place.
Regina [00:32:28] And that’s the way of slighting the people who work there.
Cynthia [00:32:31] Oh yes.
Nikki [00:32:31] Exactly.
Regina [00:32:33] And that’s something that’s still reinforced in our society when we talk about shelters and shelter workers – that shelters are a horrible place for dogs because the people who work there don’t actually care about them. And this may be a little bit off topic but I don’t know if any of you have seen the movie The Secret Life of Pets. I turned it on and watch like I caught it like somewhere in the middle. But the main villain is an animal control officer, who is trying to collect these dogs to take them to the pound. It made me I mean flames at the side of my face. I could not believe that this movie that was so popular was enforcing this terrible stereotype that that really affects like I don’t know 50 percent of my friends you know who have to deal with that with society thinking that about them.
Stacey [00:33:27] It shows us that it is habit.
Cynthia [00:33:33] Yes it is exactly as habit as people say oh I didn’t mean that. And I say Yeah but that’s what the people here. Yeah that’s what the perception is. That’s what you’ve done. Yeah.
Regina [00:33:43] So that actually goes into another topic that we have, which is how we talk about shelters. Do we say kill shelter or do we say no kill or do we say open admission and limited admission or whatever the words are for that. And Cynthia or Stacey you either one of you or both of you can take this one to talk about why that really matters.
Stacey [00:34:09] Wow that’s a big one.
Stacey [00:34:13] Yes that is!
Nikki [00:34:22] Can we just say shelter?
Cynthia [00:34:25] I’m not really sure what the final answer is. I do know that when we apply the word “kill shelter,” even though I understand it, I’ve watched the transformation of our society and the way we do it – Although by the way guys we all live still in a pretty small universe. So I’m not sure who we’re talking to because if you go out into the community and talk to people who know nothing about dogs and cats and shelters and things like that and you say kill shelter, they’re like “what.” It doesn’t seem to move the conversation forward, but I also understand how it has and why people have chosen to do it. But from my point of view, it so makes it into a conversation about violent the end of life that something about admission is better and I really like to just talk about a shelter that sometimes is constrained by space and not enough fosters.
Stacey [00:35:28] I agree I think it’s a distraction from the task at hand. I was speaking to a colleague who runs a major animal welfare organization, and I don’t have permission to quote her, but I wish I did. What she said was, “Why do we have to have all of these labels? Why can’t we say let’s go get together and save some lives?” Because that’s really what we’re doing. And I don’t believe that there are people who who don’t want to save animals that are working in sheltering. So. No I don’t. There was there was a purpose for the phrase no kill when it started a very long time ago. It did push the movement forward it. It prompted people to try harder to get the animals out of their shelters. But just like there was a time for that there’s now a time to start finding the language that describes what we’re doing now, which is so much better. We’re so much better. We don’t need the habit of the old language.
Cynthia [00:36:42] And I. I. Yeah I think it was a habit. But you know I also think it goes back to what you asked me, and I said something about you know the old way of talking about this audience analysis and defining your audience. For a while we had to get everyone in the animal welfare community together on what we are talking about, what we do stand for, and what’s possible, and what’s the dream, and the vision, and what do we need to go there. So we needed to change our own habits and way of talking and then bring all that out on the table. But if we’re really going to the general public, if we really believe that animals are part of the fabric of communities, then we need to talk to all communities. And how do we do that and how do we define what we do? And it’s not kill versus no kill. And maybe it’s a open admission vs. something else but that can demean the other shelter too. “Oh they don’t take everything,” so therefore, kind of pulls them down. So I think we need some other word or just phrase that short that can say, “This is a shelter. What are its policies? What can we do to change it or how do we address it?”
Regina [00:37:58] And I think you you address something that’s that’s really important, is that we just like our words don’t exist in a vacuum just this language and how they impact society, now because of the Internet, animal welfare – this thing we call animal welfare – does not exist in a tiny closed system. What we say, we always say to the general public because of the Internet. And because animals exist as part of the fabric of our society and especially the way people think about dogs. So people do get very passionate about it. People want to know what’s going on in animal welfare even if they can’t understand the bigger concepts that we’re dealing with.
Nikki [00:38:44] OK. So that beeping noise actually means that somebody on our podcast got cut off. So that’s where we decided to end part one of our language podcast. Come back and listen to part two to hear more of what we have to say about the language we use every day.
Regina [00:00:00] Hi and welcome to the Individual Animal. You are listening to part two of our language podcast with Cynthia Bathurst. Part two is going to start off a little weird because we were just chatting and we ended up saying some great stuff. So you’re hopping in on the middle of the conversation, but we hope you enjoy what we have to say in this episode. I mean, we are the word police sometimes, though.
Stacey [00:00:25] I know, but we don’t want to be nasty about it.
Regina [00:00:28] Right. Like.
Cynthia [00:00:31] I think that if we say, I mean, you know, you decide as an organization. But I think that if we if somehow, we say things from time to time saying this is a matter of moving language and how we talk about things forward. And so we don’t want people to be not be able to talk just because they keep saying, well, I don’t mean. Well, I don’t mean. So I don’t know. Maybe there’s some way to say something like that.
Regina [00:00:56] Yeah. I think it’s good to make some kind of statement that I mean, we did say this earlier in the podcast, but we all know from previous podcasts that we often need to reiterate things ad nauseum.
Cynthia [00:01:11] Yes.
Regina [00:01:12] But, you know, we’ve talked about how it’s difficult for us. I know, Nikki, you talked about yesterday how, you know, she’s trying to move away from using some certain language. And like I’m trying not to say certain things. I really try not to say like that’s crazy or that’s insane. And I have a really hard time doing that. So changing language is hard because it is habit. Habits are really hard to break. So we have to be understanding with ourselves and with everybody else as we all work to try to break those habits.
Stacey [00:01:46] Right. And I think that’s an important point. So we need to.
Cynthia [00:01:50] Well, say. You could just pull that out and say, right.
Nicole [00:01:53] Yeah, we’re recording. So we got that.
Cynthia [00:01:57] I mean yester. Yesterday, I had a presentation to go to and I was walking around the shelter at ACC and I saw how many times stray is used because that’s the common word. And I just started thinking about, you know, running a stray or everything or roaming is fine in general, but not for every dog. And it does label them somehow when you do that.
Regina [00:02:23] And language evolves to and end, our society’s perception of the words we use evolve and just look at how much AFF our language has changed, so much even since I’ve been here and then way before that, I mean, a lot of it has changed.
Stacey [00:02:43] So much. Yeah, yeah. When I started there, we called them the king of dogs.
Regina [00:02:49] Wow. I think I might. I can’t remember if I mentioned this before, but a friend of mine has a very old like pit bull focused magazine and it has ads for AFF in it. And I was really floored by the language on these ads. I’ve got to go back through and find the photos that she posted to Facebook and tagged me. I’ve got to go back and find those photos. It blew me away. I could not believe that our organization ever used. I think it may have been, I think King of Dogs may have actually been on there. It was wild. Yeah. Really wild.
Stacey [00:03:26] Isn’t that great, though, I think we should use it. What the hell, you know what? We’re human. And that’s what you you know, you just have to. Just be mindful of the moment of where you are in time and cut yourself some slack because you’re never gonna be perfect. Try to do your best, but it’s okay to laugh at yourself when you look back and you think, wow, I got that so wrong. Glad we’re not doing it now.
Nicole [00:03:53] Yeah, Regina next time you’re at the office. We’ll have to, In my office there’s like boxes and boxes of our old historical marketing and stuff like that. You’ll have to take a look. I think you’ll get a kick out of it.
Regina [00:04:05] Girl, I will. I will definitely have to.
Stacey [00:04:09] Yeah. Nothing is as good, though, the Our gang.
Nicole [00:04:11] Yeah.
Stacey [00:04:12] Because that with Cynthia who saved us on that one. She had like.
Cynthia [00:04:18] Yeah I’m like really.
Regina [00:04:21] i love it. in an early in an early podcast. Nikki brought that up In a very early podcast. She brought that up.
Cynthia [00:04:30] While I was bringing out all the old t shirts that I still have sitting around in storage for Safe Humane and I found a some of the ones from other organizations like Pit Bulls are America’s Dog. Mm hmm. And, you know, while that might not be so obviously bad to some people, I’m thinking, yeah, maybe we don’t want to give these out anymore. I should just think of something else to do with them.
Regina [00:05:03] Actually, people know what was it? It was good enough for your gang, good enough for ours or what was it exactly?
Stacey [00:05:10] Well, it had Petey on it. So Petey from the little rascals. But nowhere on nowhere did it say Petey the pit bull. It just had the photo of Petey. Or maybe it said Petey. I don’t know what it said, but anyway, it said, good enough for our gang. Good enough for yours. Well, most people don’t even know that Little Rascals was actually called our gang. They just thought it was called Little Rascals. So there’s the first mix up. But then at the time, one of the stereotypes that was so damaging was that they were dogs labeled pit bull were associated with gangs. And so that is good enough for our gang. Hello. Good enough for yous. So.
Regina [00:05:54] You know it still exists, it is not a dead stereotype. Unfortunate.
Nicole [00:05:59] Thank you Animal Farm.
Stacey [00:06:06] Well, I don’t think we created this stereotype. I think were just perhaps you might recognize there. We thank you. Two are reparation, friend. Though she set us straight. And those T-shirts like the sometimes with you know people donate. They’re older that use t shirts to clothing drives.
Nicole [00:06:34] Nice.
Stacey [00:06:34] And some of them. We did that. One of them as we aged out. We had them left. That’s not one that I did because I just didn’t want to imagine somebody somewhere who’s already struggling in their own country to make it. And they have to rely on donated clothing, walking around in a good enough for our gang, good enough for yours T-shirt. we’re not even donating these. These are just gonna go away. So. Yeah. Yeah.
Nicole [00:07:18] Regina can you think of something from when you started to now that we’ve changed. In just this. I mean, not that short period of time. You’ve been here for a little bit now, but had to put you on the spot.
Regina [00:07:30] I don’t know if I feel on the spot. Thanks. I can’t think of anything big. I just feel like there are so many subtle shifts in what we do. Well, you know, now we’re name, you know, all dogs are individuals. But then, you know, now we’re just saying we’re individuals. We still say all dogs are individuals. No one stop using that hashtag. But now we’re saying or we’re individuals to include dog owners and dogs and to really get our dogs and people together to end discrimination. You know, to really drive that point home. And I think there if you look back over yeah, there have been big changes like the gang thing. But I think a lot of our changes, especially as I look at the previous educational materials we’ve put out there, a lot of the changes are much more subtle, but they have a big impact.
Stacey [00:08:25] Right. And I think that’s one of the points of what we try to do as an organization is to remain flexible. So and we’ve we’ve lost a good staff over this because they want to have that one year, three year, five year plan. Of ok, so this is what we’re going to accomplish in this period of time. And these are our goals and this is this. And we do that loosely. But it’s so important when you’re a mission driven organization to be able to evolve and change with the circumstances around you. So you’re not saying what you want to say because that’s what you’ve planned and that’s in your plan. You’re ready to be responding to what’s happening in the real world around you. So I’m glad to hear I’m kind of glad to hear you say that, Regina, that that you’ve noticed. There’s a lot of subtle and different things that we do, because that means where we’re for staying fluid and we don’t get wed to an idea that we think is right. So we’re just going to drive that home.
Regina [00:09:35] Well, even I’ve been reworking on some of our education materials are our books. And like I’ve noticed in the breed labels book, not necessarily that, but the overall message is the same. But we’ve changed how we talk about it. And that book Nikki and I re-did just two years ago, but already I’m like, nope, not saying this again, not saying this again. Now we say it this way, but ultimately it’s the same thing. But we also learn better ways of talking to people to meet them. Where where they are now and where they were two years ago is different from where they are now. Where society was two years ago was different from where it is now. So we. Are constantly adapting our messaging to meet people where they are, and that always changes because you have newer generations to that you need to address in the way they learn is different in a lot of ways from my generation or older generations.
Nicole [00:10:31] Have you noticed in the Breed Labels booklet that you’re redoing? We use mixed breed a lot more often than we do now. Has that been you’ve been changing a lot?
Regina [00:10:43] yup.
Nicole [00:10:44] I’m not surprised. I think, we knew all along, I think not all along, but we’ve known for a while that unknown is such a better term for dogs of unknown origin. But to start out with our educational materials and things like that. We started out just using the term mixed breed. And it’s interesting that you say that maybe that part of that reason was just to meet people where they were at that moment. And now we’re ready to make that shift.
Stacey [00:11:12] And the Cynthia. Is there psychology of that? Like what is that? Is that is that a legitimate thing that we’re doing that we just happened upon or.
Cynthia [00:11:20] That you mean that that you that you find that you have changed over time and now we’re talking about things differently as well?
Stacey [00:11:29] That and, yeah thatAnd also recognizing that we can’t go from zero. We can’t always go from zero to 60.
Cynthia [00:11:39] Absolutely. And that is. Yes. Because it’s language. I mean, if you go to any dictionary, you know, well, research dictionary, you’re always going to see the history of words and how they have changed. And so it’s a well, such a well recognized concept that that happens and that there you know, it takes a while for four words to be accepted in certain communities. And even sometimes it’s in some of these dictionaries, you know, they’ll say, well, in the 1950s, it meant this within this group of people. And then some of that has come into the general population. Some hasn’t. So it is a well recognized concept of language. If you think about language for very long, that makes perfect sense. In fact, I was just thinking if I could just jump back to what you were just talking about, unknown breed versus mixed, mixed breed. You know, when I first looked at that, thought about it, my first response was, so it’s a breed of dog. It’s just unknown. And I’m wondering, after all the science based infographics that I just want to say thinking about what we’re going to do. I’ve been using mixed breed for a lot without thinking out of habit. But what I want to say is this is a dog of unknown origin because I don’t even want to think about it as a breed.
Stacey [00:13:05] Exactly. But how do you think people will respond to that? So and your environment. Of Chicago Animal Care and Control, which is where you run your program, out of which Chicago Animal Care and Control is a large municipal high in-take open admission shelter that does really an incredible amount of good stuff in a tough situation. How how do you think people in the circle you run in will take to that if you start saying this dog is of unknown origin?
Cynthia [00:13:45] Well, probably they’ll say that I’m always thinking about how we ought to talk about things in its weary, you know, and that now you don’t want me to use the word breed at all. Oh, my God, Cynthia. So that’s what I think would happen at first. But if you just keep using it and keep saying it, then what we really want to do is get people to talk about this is a dog who is, as we tell police officers when they’re describing them, who is black or brown. You know, my way, 50, 60, 70 pounds has a short tail, floppy years and medium long coat. And we sort of know the dog, we say, and they love people, love treats, don’t like other dogs, you know. I mean, that kind of defines, you know, defines a dog better than saying here is a mixed breed dog. Well, what’s it mixed with? Well, maybe a Rottweiler, maybe a lab may be American Staffordshire terrier. You know, you still have to go a long way. So I just think we have to decide what will fit in. You know, with the population and I just I don’t know. We just say mixed breed a lot. And by the way, language does matter because if everybody and you guys know this. But if you look at all the software companies who provide shelter, software and other things, they’re their go to template comments about a dog when you put in a breed is what will do things like not good for children under 15. And it goes on the cage card, everybody says, yeah, we don’t believe that. But that’s just what the kennel software does. Oh, my God. That has huge impact.
Stacey [00:15:32] Yeah, it does.
Cynthia [00:15:33] So I’m so I guess I’m saying that when I first started worrying about not saying pit bull or pit bull or saying pit bull dog or. And then I started saying perceived as a pit bull, there’s gonna be a time where we’re not even gonna want to say it that way. So we just have to get enough people to continue to see if it will catch on and continue using it and and change what we do in order to be change makers.
Nicole [00:15:59] I think with mixed breed and unknown with these shelters that I’ve worked with, that have removed breed labeling and they now use mixed breed. They’re super comfortable talking to their adopters and saying, we don’t know. So if they’re comfortable saying they don’t know instead of saying, well, this is definitely a mixed breed. I think that they’re going to start to be OK with using just unknown instead of mix breed. I don’t think the change will be, I hope the change is too too difficult.
Stacey [00:16:27] Right. And I mean, is this a good time to point out that pit bull isn’t a dirty word either?
Nicole [00:16:33] Yes.
Cynthia [00:16:34] This is a very good time.
Stacey [00:16:37] And then talking about a dog of unknown origin doesn’t mean we’re talking about the dogs. It’s not unknown is not a euphemism for pit bull. So let’s not let’s not start using unknown and instead of blocky head because that’s not right either. Pit bull isn’t a dirty word, though.
Nicole [00:17:02] So I guess within sheltering, we’ll stick within some of these sheltering terms a little bit is adoptable vs. available to dogs. Which I just Stacey just reminded me and the rest of us the other day when I slipped and was calling are available dogs, adoptable dogs, which has always been a hard one for me to shift to. I know it was the correct thing and the most appropriate thing is available dogs. But just my mouth, it just comes out adoptable.
Stacey [00:17:39] Theres a lot of stuff that comes out of your mouth. Nikki, that you know. No, I’m kidding. OK. So, OK, here’s my idea. Cynthia I don’t think you and I have ever talked about this. We’ve talked about transfer versus Pull. And I hopefully we get to that later because you totally changed my my perception on that. But so here’s my thing, and I don’t think we’ve ever talked about it, which is amazing considering the number of hours we’ve spent discussing things. I don’t like the term adoptable when referring to the dogs because every word, especially an adjective, kind of has an opposite, right? So if there are adoptable dogs, then there are unadoptable dogs. And then an unadoptable dog means there’s something wrong with it. But so many of the dogs in our shelters aren’t un adoptable, they’re just not ready yet. Or we don’t know enough about them yet. So when it comes to sheltering, I just so much prefer that we talk about the dogs as being available and those are the ones that, hey This is, we already know about these dogs. This is what we know about them. They’re healthy. They’re ready to go. They’re available. We have some that aren’t available yet because we don’t know enough about them or they haven’t had their surgery yet or whatever. And it just seems much nicer to the dogs to not call them on adoptable.
Cynthia [00:19:18] Well, now that you have said that it is funny, we haven’t talked about it given we’ve talked about a million other things. And in words, it is surprising. And when I first thought about it, I at my first impulse was, yes, I agree with you. And here’s the only caveat I’ll give. But there may be ways around this, because at Chicago Animal Care and Control, for example, cards will say available for adoption or available for rescue. And I always have told people I’d like to say available for transfer or available for adoption, but. So when you say when someone says this dog is adoptable and they’ll say, no, it’s not. It can only go to rescue. That’s why I would say transferable. I sort of understood adoptable. But in the general public, I agree. I think it’s much better to use the word available so it doesn’t. So people then are led to saying where are the and adoptable ones? And then you have to explain. So if you say available there like obvious, that’s cool.
Stacey [00:20:26] Right. And that’s a good example of explain importance of context. Because where what you are talking about happens in the big shelter in Chicago, animal care and control, but it doesn’t apply to our small pool of available dogs at Animal Farm. So context is important. So let’s talk about this idea that you have to rescue a dog from a shelter transfer versus pulling.
Cynthia [00:20:58] Yeah. Which is, you know, is always been one of the things that really bothered me. And I resist ever using the word pull unless I’m in a conference call with a bunch of rescues talking about who is going to transfer this court case dog into their into their programs. But I never even understood what pull meant, but except that it became pulling out of something for usually some negative reason or act. And because we are a rescue is pulling it, you’re clearly rescuing it from you know, from the shelter, which I think is so, such a wrong way to do. If we want the general public to take on dogs. It is. And in fact, we’ve struggled in Safe Humane where we would say that in our in in the context of collaborative justice, our our law enforcement officers are rescuing the dogs from very serious situations. That makes perfect sense to me. And then somebody said, well, we need to say that our partners, our rescue partners are rescuing the dogs, too. And that’s when I started saying, no, we need to say they transferred them after they had been rescued from a horrible situation. And not have yet another kind of physical a physical kind of pulling a dog or doing something like that as opposed to transferring its status, its ownership.
Stacey [00:22:36] Well, it just implies that the shelter isn’t a safety net, that the dog needs to be rescued from the shelter. No, that the dog is already safe. And at the shelter, the dog is already in the safety net. So let’s use collaborative words like transfer instead of.
Cynthia [00:22:54] But some people may then want to say, well, we really have to rescue them from euthanasia because the shelter is full and if we don’t pull if we don’t transfer them out, they will die. And I think using an overall term to describe for something overall as opposed to a specific problem with a specific policy, with a specific kind of community issue, we shouldn’t be using language to do that. Those kinds of words, because our ultimate audience is the general public. That’s where we want the dogs to go, not from one shelter to another or from one rescuer to another.
Stacey [00:23:41] I could not agree more.
Regina [00:23:43] We have talked about the dumping versus surrendering versus abandoning inour re home and podcast. We did address that, but I do think it bears repeating for all. Well, I don’t know how we can see how we can sum that up because it’s such a long and involved topic for so many reasons to accuse people of abandoning an animal at a shelter or dumping an animal at a shelter, because that also put so much blame on the owner. And we don’t know what their life is like. We don’t know how tormented they may be by what they had to do. So those words are just chock full of judgment for shelter workers and for dog owners.
Cynthia [00:24:26] I agree. Recently, our executive director at Chicago Animal Care and Control did what I thought was a brave good thing because she was distressed by some volunteers or folks talking about community members who abandoned or. All the negative things that that you have just alluded to. And she put out something that actually got published in the in one of the newspapers that said we would much rather that you bring your animals to Chicago Animal Care and Control even when we’re full and and let us try to help make them safe rather than abandoning them to the public ways where so much harm can come to them. And, you know, and she told that to every.
Stacey [00:25:13] Good.
Cynthia [00:25:13] Volunteer to and memorandum. And I just thought that was very brave and right headed.
Stacey [00:25:20] So important. Good for her. Good for you, Kelly. Right. Because why do we why do we get angry at people who take their pets to the shelter? Because the shelters are out there saying, listen, we are a safe place. We’ll take care of the pets that come to us. We’re a good place. And it seems like if somebody finds the wherewithal to bring their animal to the shelter. They’re doing the right thing, not the wrong thing. So we shouldn’t we shouldn’t saddle them with someone. So many negative words.
Nicole [00:25:51] speaking of negative words I don’t know if we want to touch on this or not. I’m gonna leave that to you, Stacey. But we have on here aggression. I feel like we over use that term in sheltering and it doesn’t always mean what we’re using it as. So is that something that you want to talk about here?
Stacey [00:26:09] I don’t know if we want to talk about it, because that’s. Because it’s used in the context of behavior. None of us are behavior people.
Nicole [00:26:16] Yeah. That’s why I wasn’t sure.
Cynthia [00:26:20] Right.
Nicole [00:26:21] I do have a really quick story of something I heard about the other day that’s sort of uplifting language change in adoption. One of our good friends, Katie, reached out to us. She was at a conference and she was telling me about this shelter that instead of having an adoption follow up program, they have an alumni program. So instead of e-mailing their adopters with like these follow ups, how you do and check in, and we’re sort of like we want to know what’s in your closets, like home checks. But for them. They started this adoption, they’re calling the adoption retention program where they send 10 day and a 60 day congratulations, email offering training or veterinary care or whatever other resources that particular shelter can provide. And I just think that really slight change in language where you’re not calling to say like, hey, I’m just following up to say like, congratulations and what can we do to help? And here’s what we offer really changes the conversation and helps keep pets in their home.
Stacey [00:27:36] I agree. Because you know what? Adopting a pet is a happy thing. Not exactly sure when we decided to be so aggressive about it.
Cynthia [00:27:45] Yeah, I know. Now we can’t even talk. I am just, you know, silenced. Let’s see. What can I say here? But I agree. And actually, I I don’t know if I want to bring this up, because I’m not quite sure what we have left to talk about. But I’ll go ahead because we used it in our earlier conversation yesterday. And I was recently at a national conference where we ended up and I think I may have mentioned this to Stacey, that Safe Humane has been looking at the language, even the short is we call them elevator speeches and the kinds of words we use. And I was in a discussion about various communities getting involved in what they want to do with animals in their own way and with their and with their own neighbors. And we talked about whether we talked to we talk about communities that used to be we’d say there at risk communities. And then we would say, oh, well, these are under underserved and or and then I started using underresourced. And then somebody pointed out to me that one resource is a you know, is. Some terrible hoarder or some a puppy mill or something, I said, oh, OK. And so we had this whole discussion about underserved versus what I came up with was under serviced because this person said, I have people who are very sensitive about saying underserved is if we must all go in and serve them. Whereas and so this person said, no, you know, you want people to have services. And so that’s why i use underserved. And I said, why couldn’t we say under serviced then if you’re going to have to use a phrase, typically you can talk about communities that don’t have the services they need anyway. This might not be something we want to talk about, but I’m really mindful of that as we’re looking at Safe Humane language and trying to define communities and facilitate communities to use their own power, which something else came up. We don’t empower them. There you have the power. They just need to know how to use what they have to get what they need.
Stacey [00:30:08] I think that’s the really important thing. I think we should talk about that because it’s a. It is where. Animal welfare, whatever that fuzzy term actually means, is going because everybody realizes now it’s better off to keep the pets in their homes rather than have them come to the shelter. It’s just better for everybody. But we need to make sure that the pet owners have what they need to keep the pets at home. So I’ve struggled with that, too. Where? How do we. Because I don’t want to. I never really know how to discuss the programs for that same reason, Cynthia I don’t want to become paternalistic. I don’t want to disempower people who already know what the right thing is to do. Maybe they just can’t get to the resource. You know what? So what was the consensus there at the meeting you were in?
Cynthia [00:31:09] It kind of silenced the whole group. Yeah. And so it’s like, oh, my, what do we say now? And I think I thank this gentleman for talking about us being able to serve and being able to service. And I said, look, I don’t have any problem talking about at risk dogs. We know sort of what that means and it doesn’t undermine them and they can be in perfect shape, but they’re at risk of something. But with people, that doesn’t seem quite right. So when I said under serviced, several people came up to me afterwards and said, I kinda like that because it forces you to think about the service and not the act of serving as if we get to put a crown or halo on our head.
Stacey [00:31:57] Precisely.
Nicole [00:31:59] You know what else is under serviced is the amount of pet owner accessible housing.
Regina [00:32:05] Good Segway that was agood Segway Nikki?
Cynthia [00:32:08] Yes.
Nicole [00:32:12] So another one on our list is we hear a lot of pet friendly housing, which doesn’t always, as we’ve all come to know and see, doesn’t always mean that it’s friendly to all pets or all owners. So at Animal Farm, we’ve started to use pet owner accessible.
Nicole [00:32:33] Stacey, you explain that one. I know you do a lot of the housing work.
Stacey [00:32:37] Sure. And it’s tough because I don’t even know that that’s the right phrase. But to me, it’s better than pet friendly. I just know that in all of the work that we have done, fighting that discrimination against dogs based on their label or how they are perceived, it’s much easier to discriminate. It’s it’s more socially acceptable for a dog to be discriminated against than it is for a person to be discriminated against. And Opal, my dog in the background, agrees or disagrees or thinks it’s time for lunch it’s one of the three. I’m not sure. But it’s not that it’s the pets that are being discriminated against. It’s the pet owners. So landlords assume that pet owners, especially pet owners of a particular looking dog, will not be good tenants or will not be responsible pet owners. So they disallow those people to live in their building unless they give up their pets. And to me, it’s much more accurate to point out that it’s discrimination against the pet owner rather than the pet itself because the dog doesn’t have any idea that’s being discriminated against. So to call something pet friendly, like you said, nikki could mean we only allowed brown hamsters and nothing else. And you can still use the term pet friendly, but pet owner accessible means that all pet owners are considered and it’s affordable. And it’s it’s more complicated than that because along with it goes a a tiered system for allowing for pet deposits and giving landlords the opportunity to protect their investment. But in the communities that I’ve discussed this with, there seems to be some buy-in and understanding that pet friendly is not necessarily the right way to go. Cynthia, what do you think on that?
Cynthia [00:34:40] I actually agree. Yeah, I agree that pet friendly doesn’t say what we mean. And it actually probably puts land, landlords and others in a difficult position about how much that means, what kind of services they provide and what is and isn’t the case. I mean, he just isn’t the right concept. And I’m not sure that pet owner accessible is exactly right either. But I like accessible because it doesn’t mean that it’s open to every one and everything. But but you have access to it if you are within certain guidelines. And that’s why I think accessible is definitely the right the right concept.
Stacey [00:35:28] Yeah, we still have more work to do on that. But I do know for sure from our work that we need to not we need to call discrimination, pet owner discrimination for what it is. And that’s discrimination against the people who have the pets.
Cynthia [00:35:46] Yes.
Cynthia [00:35:46] Not the pets themselves.
Cynthia [00:35:48] I totally agree. Yeah.
Nicole [00:35:50] All right. We do we have two more hoarding and warehousing, which I. Stacey, you’re probably the best one to talk about this unless Cynthia wants to go for it’s not something I’m really well versed in.
Stacey [00:36:06] Cynthia, our issue with it is, first of all, warehousing is, you know, that negative term that is used against. The no kill movement, but hoarding is a term that’s also used, but that’s actually a mental health issue and not. Not caused by sheltering, and I’m not like I understand the psychology behind it, I understand the differences. I’m not really qualified to talk about it, but I don’t know if you are Cynthia or if we should leave that one alone.
Cynthia [00:36:43] Well, the only thing that I think is worth saying is that both of those terms are negative terms. Used to say something negative about the entity or or organization or person that it’s applied to, that it’s something that needs to be corrected. And frankly, to say that shelters are warehousing is just another way of saying they’re impounding or or that they are a pound and you go back to the whole government are authoritative way of putting things that are not Sinti beings on shelves and in cages. So I just think that has to stop. If you’re trying to be trying to keep the movement and the changes that we want moving forward. On hoarding, it is a very specific term and it means they can’t help themselves. And some people may argue that hoarding applied to a particular organization or person might be the case. But those need to be addressed. Those need to be addressed with very specific professionals, mental health professionals, as well as laws that apply in a particular community. So it shouldn’t just be applied. And in fact, it often happens when we go to court on court. Court case dogs that have been taken in by someone and they say this person is a hoarder. You have to prove that it is a finding and you shouldn’t be using that term lightly because it’s a serious illness. And we need mental health professionals who can help with that.
Nicole [00:38:26] We just need to understand that it is a mental health issue and not to demonize. I think that’s what sort of happens with when we talk about hoarding cases as the humans involved in those cases end up getting demonized with that word hoarding.
Stacey [00:38:42] Right.
Cynthia [00:38:44] Yes. Perfect word. It’s say yes.
Stacey [00:38:48] It feels passive aggressive to me. So it feels like a way to to like what you said. Demonize people who are working in a shelter by using those words to that or not. I’m not getting anywhere. So I should probably just stop talking.
Regina [00:39:07] But know what it is. It is completely it’s it’s Abelism. It’s the, you know, perpetuation of mental health stigma, too, because wording is very real. And the people, as everybody else who said they need help, they don’t need to be blamed and made out to be villains because they’re they’re just people who are sick and who need help.
Stacey [00:39:34] Right. But animal sheltering and animal rescue does not cause hoarding. And I think we can get mixed up in that came up when we were talking about that. That presentation that was we were having trouble with from PetSmart because they implied that it did. And and we checked with professionals.
Regina [00:39:59] Implied or just said, I think it may, I mean, I have to go and re watch it but I think it may have even just been flat out said.
Stacey [00:40:06] It was I was just trying to be polite because they fixed it.
Nicole [00:40:09] So for the first time ever in my life.
Stacey [00:40:12] For the first time ever in my life, I’m trying to be polite. Thanks nikki.
Cynthia [00:40:22] We can now we can now put both of you in the same little box that something comes out of someone’s mouth in someones, not polite.
Nicole [00:40:30] i was just kidding.
Stacey [00:40:39] No, that’s OK. I own it.
Cynthia [00:40:43] But I do think that several pieces of things were said here that’s important. And that is the mental health part in why you’re using the language in what kind of help is needed and isn’t appropriate. And even in some of these presentations we talk about, people are assuming a context. What’s interesting is that if you’re not in that context anymore, it doesn’t work. So as language changes, well, those of us who are making presentations need to be mindful that not everyone is in the same universe we are, and what universe are we in and how can we contribute to Animals and people living well in some context together.
Stacey [00:41:33] Agreed. So, Cynthia. When are you gonna take all of this on the road and start doing conference presentations on the importance?
Cynthia [00:41:42] I want to you guys help me.
Stacey [00:41:43] Yes. We would be glad to.
Cynthia [00:41:46] That is actually one of my sort of dreams to engage people in thinking about and do it in a fun and presentational way that is engaging way that we can have an impact and really start making a difference in language, which is really what has been happening over the years with a lot of this. But I’ve I would love to do it.
Stacey [00:42:10] Good. I think we should make that a goal. I think we should plan that right.
Nicole [00:42:13] Everybody coming to a town near you Cynthia Bathurst.
Stacey [00:42:23] Well, we’ll make T-shirts good enough for our gang good enough for yours. Cynthia Bathurst.
Nicole [00:42:33] But the one I was thinking of the other day is how we put Shelter dogs and family dogs into two different categories, and I was just trying to figure out what the differences between a shelter dog and a family dog. I don’t know if there is a different term or solution or I’m just thinking about it too hard.
Stacey [00:42:54] I know when we used to do a lot with Amy Marder, I remember she stuck her hand up once at a conference and said, But wait a minute. A shelter dog is just a family dog that doesn’t have a family for right now.
Nicole [00:43:07] Right.
Stacey [00:43:09] It’s like, oh yeah, that’s true. But I don’t know if it’s a if it’s a source of pride for some people to say they have a shelter dog. I don’t know. I’m not I’m not familiar with where you’re coming from. So I’m sorry, Cynthia.
Regina [00:43:24] That’s another conversation. You like that use of shelter dog and rescue dog and how people identify their dogs as such? I mean, that could be a whole podcast.
Cynthia [00:43:35] You know, one thing I would say, Regina were you gonna say something?
Regina [00:43:40] Oh, I was, I was just gonna talk about the larger issue of people identifying their dog as a shelter dog or as a rescue and how they used that to excuse all kinds of things about their dog can make all kinds of assumptions about their dog and that that goes into other things we talk about here. But my dog is a rescue and sometimes hides under the couch. So I think he was probably abused by men who were twenty to thirty five years old and had beards. You know what I mean? we’ve all seen these and heard these assumptions being made. And a lot of it starts from. Well, he’s a rescue or he’s a rescue and that’s why he, you know, eats my couch or stuff like that. So that’s that’s just the idea of a rescue dog versus just a dog. It is just a very loaded term.
Cynthia [00:44:30] I agree that it is. And I think it just shows that we also have to recognize that happens in the general big picture with all kinds of terms across all kinds of things. And I think that it’s legitimate to say that you’re bringing a shelter dog to a program when it came out of a shelter right now. But I think we have to be careful to make that a term that somehow defines behavior, you know, sort of like looks or placement doesn’t determine behavior. Yeah. So there are reasons for it, but it ought to be done in that narrow context, I think. I mean, frankly, Safe Humane struggles a little bit with, you know, we continue to call dogs, court case dogs after they leave. And people now they didn’t used to be, but now are proud to have a court case dog. And I’ve sort of gone back and forth saying, you know, you don’t need to define the dog by that term anymore. And the only reason we’ve done it is because we need money and it gets us donations and that’s terrible. So anyway, I think it’s a legitimate question and just trying to warn people that you need to think about labels that you use, who you’re talking to, and what impacted it is it’s perfectly acceptable for me to tell the Illinois Youth Center, the Department of Juvenile Justice, we’re bringing shelter dogs, not ambassador dogs. That is, we’re going to expect different kinds of skills and levels and where they come from or or adopted dogs or something. But in the general population, I think that is something we should work on because it does come with all kinds of baggage as Regina quite well just said.
Stacey [00:46:24] Agreed. You should take that up when you hit the road with your program, Cynthia.
Cynthia [00:46:31] Exact.
Stacey [00:46:31] We do we need to get that rolling.
Cynthia [00:46:35] Yes, we do.
Stacey [00:46:35] I know how much. Yeah, I know. I know how much you have helped me through the years learning and understanding about the way we talk about the work we do, which is almost as important as the work itself. So I very much appreciate you and your expertise, and the time you’ve lended to us having this discussion and I am getting more of this.
Cynthia [00:47:06] I do, too. You guys have to know that when I read your posts, whether it’s Animal Farm or National Canine Research Council or when I read people’s papers, I’m constantly adjusting and thinking, oh, my gosh, I just fell into this habit and I’m very mindful of habits these days. So it’s it’s a good time. It’s very important. You’ve taught me a lot you guys.
Nicole [00:47:34] I think you’ve taught us a lot.
Stacey [00:47:35] Same here. Yeah.
Nicole [00:47:38] All right. Well, thank you so much. This has been fantastic.
Regina [00:47:42] Thank you, Cynthia.
Cynthia [00:47:43] Yes. Thank you. Thank you.