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Listen to part 1 of this series.

“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. 

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 animals in our care, the people who care for those animals and the people who want to give those animals homes. It also impacts the general public, some of whom may never interact with our animals at all. 

In this episode of the Individual Animal, Cynthia Bathurst, the Executive Director of Safe Humane Chicago, joins Nikki, Regina, and Stacey to talk about why language matters. We discuss specific terms, some of which we mention above. 

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.

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