Keynote Speakers:

The aim of Animals and Us: Research, Policy, and Practice is to generate an interdisciplinary conversation on the many issues surrounding animal-human relations. To that end, we are lucky to be able to host these five speakers who each provide a very unique perspective and experience.

Dr. Frank Ascione
Inaugural American Humane Endowed Chair, and Scholar-in-Residence, Graduate School of Social Work and the Institute for Human-Animal Connection, University of Denver

Dr. Frank Ascione is an internationally renowned scholar with over twenty years of experience specifically researching the co-occurrence of family violence and animal abuse. Dr. Ascione is widely recognized as the founder of this field of scholarship with the publication of his foundational works in this area. He has provided testimony to state legislatures in five states in the United States regarding animal cruelty legislation and has been featured in popular media, including CNN, The Oprah Winfrey Show, and The New York Times. Dr. Ascione’s talk will address risk assessment for front line practitioners and provide a review of evidence based approaches for addressing the co-occurrence of violence against women and animals in practice settings.

Animal abuse and interpersonal violence: The evolution of a research domain
Cruelty to animals or animal abuse (AA) as a potential correlate of human interpersonal violence has received increasing research attention as a result, in part, of the inclusion of this behavior among the symptoms of Conduct Disorder delineated in DSM-III-R in 1987. Pioneering research by Felthous and Kellert examined AA in the context of adult criminality and Tapia (1971) explored the potential etiology or correlates of AA in a sample of child psychiatric patients. The substantial body of literature on AA and its relation to child maltreatment, intimate partner violence, and other crimes has been reviewed by Ascione (2005, 2008). The veterinary profession has also addressed the problem of AA and the challenges presented to forensic assessment of such incidents and the implications for both their human and nonhuman clients.

This presentation reviews the evolution of psychiatric nosology on AA from the early work of Burt (1925) to the current edition of the DSM (2013). Special attention is paid to the issues of age of onset and a recently-added Conduct Disorder specifier - "callous and unemotional traits". Forensic issues related to AA include: a) difficulties in assessing an often covert behavior, b) AA in its physical forms and its relation to bestiality, c) the increasing number of US states than now include pets and other animals in orders of protection, d) the ubiquity of felony-level AA statutes in the US, and e) the recent decision to include AA in the National Incident-Based Reporting System for criminal activity and the acknowledgement by the US Department of Homeland Security of AA as a risk factor in terrorism. I also report on the first longitudinal study designed specifically to examine AA in the context of intimate partner violence using reports by women survivors and their school-aged children.

Jaki MacKinnon
Executive Director, Bethesda House Shelter Services

As the current Executive Director of one of the few battered women's shelters in Canada that provides co-housing for abused women and their pets, Ms. MacKinnon will discuss practical strategies for the design and implementation of co-sheltering programs. Drawing on her experiences as a program administrator as well as feedback from women in the program, she will discuss both the successes and challenges of integrating services for women and their pets within residential facilities.

Co-Sheltering Women and Pets: Lessons from the Front Line
(Reducing A Barrier to Women Accessing Our "Violence Against Women" Shelter)

For the past three years, Bethesda House has officially welcomed pets into the shelter with their owners. Jaki's talk covers their journey from making the decision to eliminate this barrier to women accessing their service, through the transition period of implementing the change, to their current ongoing learning stage where successes are exhilarating and challenges come in unexpected ways. Ultimately, management, frontline staff and clients agree the end result is worth the effort.

Dr. David Favre
Michigan State University, College of Law

Dr. Favre is a former Dean of the Michigan State University Detroit College of Law. For over thirty years, he has conducted legal scholarship in the field of animal law, with a specific focus on animal rights and animal cruelty. His scholarship has challenged the construction of animals as property under law and he is a pioneer in scholarship advocating for legal personhood recognition for animals. In his ground breaking article “Equitable self-ownership for animals” published in Duke Law Journal (2000), Dr. Favre articulated a legal strategy for using existing property law concepts to create a limited form of self-ownership for animals.

Moving Ideas from Ethics into Law
This presentation will consider the process of moving easily stated ethical positions about how we should treat or not treat our animals into the world of law, where that which was clear, appears to lose its clarity. Ethics are the product of individual decisions about the treatment of animals. But, law is a group decision about the treatment of animals that inevitably inset qualifying words. Understanding why the law appears fuzzy requires a consideration of both how laws are adopted and how the law actually works to protect animals.

Dr. Charu Chandrasekera
University of Windsor, Canadian Centre for Alternatives to Animal Medicine

Dr. Chandrasekera is the founder and executive director of Canada's first and only centre dedicated exclusively to the development and validation of non-animal methods, the Canadian Centre for Alternatives to Animal Methods and its subsidiary, Canadian Centre for the Validation of Alternative Methods at the University of Windsor. She holds a doctorate in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology from the University of Calgary-she is an experienced scientist, former animal researcher, and a science policy expert advocating for a paradigm shift in which our species serves as the gold standard in biomedical research and chemical safety testing.

Beyond Animal Testing: Working Towards a Paradigm Shift
Despite the wealth of knowledge obtained over a century of extensive animal research, effective treatments remain elusive and a failure-prone endeavour for most diseases prevalent today-many breakthroughs in research labs do not make it into our clinics. Similarly, for chemical risk assessment, the legacy animal-based methods do not reliably predict adverse outcomes on human health and the environment. From the Americas to the Far East, countries across the globe have already established national centres dedicated to the development and validation of non-animal alternative methods, and Canada joined this league last Fall with the Canadian Centre for Alternatives to Animal Methods (CCAAM), and its subsidiary, Canadian Centre for the Validation of Alternative Methods (CaCVAM) located at the University of Windsor. The overarching vision of CCAAM/CaCVAM is to reduce and replace the use of animals in Canadian biomedical research, education, and regulatory testing through 21st century science, innovation, and ethics. This presentation will provide an overview of the current state of affairs in animal testing and animal replacement efforts as well as future perspectives on the need to accept human biology as the gold standard.

Dr. David Nibert
Wittenberg University, Department of Sociology

Dr. Nibert is an award winning critical animal rights scholar whose work centers on the intersecting oppressions of speciesism, capitalism, and racism. He was the recipient of the Distinguished Scholarship Award for the Animals and Society Section of the American Sociological Association (2005) for his book Animal Rights/Human Rights: Entanglements of Oppression and Liberation. He has published numerous books, including Animal Oppression and Human Violence: Domesecration, Capitalism, and Global Conflict (Columbia University Press.

Historical and Structural Basis of Entangled Oppression and Violence: RESISTANCE
In this presentation Professor Nibert will highlight the relationship between capitalism and the entangled oppression of humans and other animals. From the murderous campaigns of Genghis Khan to the destructive practices of Wall Street, institutionalized exploitation and violence are motivated by material gain. He will discuss the urgent implications for the contemporary animal rights movement.

Animals and Us: Research, Policy, and Practice is supported with funding from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council.

Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada