Date of Award

2022

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science in Animal Welfare and Behavior (MSc AWB)

First Advisor

Jennifer Punt, VMD, PhD

Second Advisor

Thomas Parsons, VMD, PhD

Abstract

Creating entertaining yet educational stories to cultivate curiosity in caring for animals can improve animal welfare as well as our own public health under a One Health initiative. More specifically, tailoring well-crafted cinematic stories utilizing thoughtful anthropomorphism about misunderstood dog breeds such as pit bulls can potentially debunk sensationalized media myths surrounding their reputation. Further research is worth pursuing on how an anthropomorphic film with an emotional arc utilizing a non-aggressive pit bull character can decrease a population's previous concerns of “scary” dog breeds discriminated against under breed specific legislation while also championing the use of particular films as moral educators. While the pilot data showed both positive and negative trends in subjects’ perceptions of pit bulls, “scary” dog breeds, and animal sentience after watching the film Kitbull, emotional cinematic stories and the content within those stories matter. We as animal welfare scientists and media professionals must work in collaboration to create truthful yet compelling stories utilizing anthropomorphism more thoughtfully so that we may nurture an audience’s empathy and compassion towards misunderstood animals in society. By increasing our efforts in improving domesticated dog welfare with a focus on debunking societal myths about mislabeled “dangerous” dog breeds such as the pit bull through motion picture stories, we not only better animal and human welfare within local communities, but world-wide.

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