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The Human-Animal Studies Report
December 2020

Dear Friends and Colleagues,

Welcome to 2020's last issue of the Animals & Society Institute's Human-Animal Studies Report. It’s been an active year for us here at ASI, and for the field of Human-Animal Studies. Because of this we wrap up the year with a long issue of the Human-Animal Studies Report.

This month’s “Animals and COVID-19” section of the Human-Animal Studies Report investigates the how domestic dogs and wild bats are helping humans detect and understand the COVID-19 virus. (Note: Other COVID-related surveys, articles and calls appear interspersed below.)

You'll also find a new section below, "Podcasts, Webinars, and Virtual Lectures," reflecting the creativity of HAS scholars in finding productive and entertaining ways to connect over this difficult year.

As we close out the year, we wish you—and the animals—a happy holiday season and send hopes for a better 2021 for us all.


Editor’s note: The HAS e-newsletter is organized as follows: Jobs, grants, and calls are ordered chronologically by deadline dates, with the earliest first, and will continue to be posted until the deadlines expire. Books and articles include, where possible, links to access them directly from this email. Because publication reference styles vary by source, they might not always be consistent or pretty, but they will get you there. To read more about the topics discussed, click the bold hyperlinks for source material and additional information.

Please send your comments, suggestions, and submissions to:, and if possible include a URL link to your project or announcement.

Animals and COVID-19

Before moving to this month’s Report, I note several updates to last month’s piece, “The Pandemic’s Impacts on Animals: The Case of the Mink Farms.” First, we received this message from Prof. Jes Lynning Harfeld at Aalborg University, Aalborg, Denmark:

“Thank you for yet another interesting newsletter. A short note on the mink debacle here in Denmark. There has been no postponement of the culling of the entire standing population of farmed mink. There was a short time where this was considered—but that was due to the fact that the government did not in fact have the legal authority to cull healthy mink outside a 20-mile zone of farms with disease. They did it anyway and all mink have now been put down. It is now illegal to farm mink in Denmark—temporarily until January 2022. The fact that the mutations of COVID-19 (the so called Cluster 5) did not seem to be a problem vaccine wise only played a role in the political infighting between opposition and government in the aftermath.”

Next, as of November 30, COVID-19 had infected both mink and farmworkers at 16 mink farms in four US states—Utah, Wisconsin, Michigan and Oregon. As of that time, the mink were being isolated rather than culled en masse like they had been in Europe. Then on December 14, the US Department of Agriculture confirmed the first case of COVID-19 in a free-ranging, wild mink, in Utah

Dogs and Bats Help Humans 
Detect and Understand the COVID-19 Virus

Note: Vaccines for the coronavirus have begun to make their way into distribution, prompting hope for a better 2021. Along with this, calls for the use of animals in laboratory experimentation regarding the coronavirus are increasing, at the same time they are prompting criticism as highly exploitive, disregarding of the animals’ welfare, and indeed unnecessary. I will pick up this complicated and troublesome issue down the road, but for now I choose to wrap up the year with this more positive report.

Researchers are harnessing the abilities of animals to help with the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic in a several ways that attempt to respect the animals’ well being. I focus here on two such instances: the use of dogs trained to sniff out COVID infections in humans, and research into wild bats’ immunology that might help with treatment for humans.  

Humans have long utilized the dogs’ olfactory abilities in detecting cadavers, drugs, and explosives. Dogs’ keen senses of smell are due to their possessing up to 300 million olfactory receptors in their noses compared to about six million in ours and the part of their brains that analyses and processes scents is (proportionally) 40 times greater than ours. Because of this, they also have been put to use to detect the odor signatures of disease in humans, including malaria, and some cancers, including melanoma, colorectal, lung, ovarian, and breast. (See studies here and here.)

Recently, this ability has been harnessed to sniff out people with coronavirus infections. A preliminary French study published in June, 2020, (later peer-reviewed and published in PLOS ONE), found that trained dogs were able to detect the presence of COVID-19 infection in human sweat odor. The dogs used in the study were already trained to detect explosives or cancer, or for search and rescue, and required only one to four hours to acquire the specific odor of COVID-19 in human sweat. Only rare cases of dogs catching the virus are known; still care was taken to assure the dogs were safe from infection.

In September, researchers at Finland’s Helsinki airport began a pilot program to determine if sniffer dogs’ noses might serve as a cheap, fast and effective means of screening people for the virus. The dogs were able to detect the presence of the virus within ten seconds, with the entire testing process taking less than a minute to complete. Impressively, the dogs were nearly 100% accurate, and could detect the virus even days before those tested developed symptoms. According to the article, at that time Australia, France, Germany, Britain and Dubai were working on similar projects, and those efforts have since expanded. By early December, Helsinki’s COVID-19 sniffer dogs had received Special Hero Dog Awards from the Finnish Kennel Club, noting that “the work of the COVID-19 sniffer dogs makes a real positive difference in terms of people’s wellbeing.”

With this type of work, the training is reward-based, and requires only the need for the dogs to alert their trainers—by barking, pawing, sitting or lying down—to odors they already smell naturally. This work certainly benefits humans. This type of detection is noninvasive and with potentially fewer side effects than other diagnostic means. It seems to benefit the dogs as well in that they seem to enjoy the work. Although some might consider this type of work for dogs exploitive, I speak from experience with several working-breed rescue dogs who considered “find” a most enjoyable action; for them it was certainly more play than work. Rather than scents, we used words for toys, prompting one of my rescue companions, Boris, to learn not only verbs (“rope toy,” Wubba,” “ball”), but also adjectives (the “NEW Wubba”; the “SQUEAKY” Wubba”)—in order to bring the right toy for praise during our play time

On another front, researcher Brian Bird, associate director at the One Health Institute, has been studying how bats’ unique immune systems might shed light on human coronavirus immunity. This research is accomplished by capturing wild-living bats with as little disruption as possible, and releasing them after weighing, measuring, and taking saliva and fecal samples from them. The project has helped identify emerging infections, and how bats can harbor viruses—including coronaviruses—without succumbing to them or even becoming seriously ill. 

What might be the mechanism that allows this? Virologist Arinjay Banerjee, postdoctoral researcher at McMaster University in Canada, notes that “the majority of symptoms caused by highly pathogenic coronaviruses like SARS or SARS-CoV-2 in humans is driven by the over-inflammation in the body.” Bats don’t develop this overblown reaction; it seems they somehow suppress the inflammation the viruses cause in humans. They do this by producing interferon molecules, which create a chain reaction that interferes with the virus’ actual reproduction. Type-I interferons defend all mammals from viruses, but bats have many more interferon-producing genes than humans. Also, human genetic mutations and autoimmune conditions in a subgroup of those most severely hit by COVID-19 show the patients lack type-1 interferon, with auto-antibodies quelling the interferons positive actions.

Further research into how bats and other wild animals interfere with viral infections should prove incredibly useful in understanding how humans might formulate ways of doing the same—without the collateral damage caused by animal testing that considers its subjects as fungible. More broadly, the ways in which humans are respectfully harnessing the natural abilities of animals—here, dogs and bats—to assist with pandemic solutions point to viable models that take into account both our partnerships and connectedness with other animals.

More COIVD-19 Resources

The Animals & Society sections of the American Sociological Association has launched a new multimedia space for essays, artwork, audio, video, etc,, "Animals & COVID Society." 

Corey Wrenn, Loredana Lay and Bonnie Berry have a piece out on COVID-19, Animals, and Us: Human Supremacy as an Environmental Pathology (Animals and Society).

The “Animals and COVID-19” section of this Report is copyright © 2020, the Animals & Society Institute. All rights reserved. This material may be reproduced for personal use or by not-for-profit organizations with proper credits and the web site link For other uses, no portion of this publication may be reproduced or distributed, in print or through any electronic means, without the written permission of the Animals & Society Institute. 


The Animals and Society Institute has a Volunteer Leadership Opportunity you might be interested in. Do you want to help create a more compassionate world? Would you like to see evidence-based research used to strengthen human-animal relationships? If you do, you may be a match for ASI’s open board member positions. Whether you have experience working with a hands-on board or are thinking about joining a board for the first time, this may be the right opportunity for you. To read more about this opportunity, click here

Brill and the editors of Society & Animals are pleased to announce the inauguration of an annual prize for the best article published in the journal by researchers in the early stages of their career. As a working definition, “early” includes scholars who are in the process of earning their terminal degree (PhD, MSW, JD, etc.) or have completed the degree within the last two years. The full text of the awarded article will be provided via Open Access and will be announced in the journal. The purpose of the award is to encourage scholars to join the field and to assist them in obtaining additional exposure of their work. The first award will consider articles published in S&A in 2019 or 2020 and will be announced in January 2021. Thereafter, the award will be given annually based on that year’s published articles. Contact ASI’s Executive Director, Ivy Collier, for more information.

The following articles in ASI’s two managed academic journals have been made available open-access. Check them out!

Alexis L. Levitt and Lindsay B. Gezinski, 2020. Compassion Fatigue and Resiliency Factors in Animal Shelter Workers. Society & Animals, 28:5-6, 633–650.
This phenomenological study explored compassion fatigue and resiliency factors in animal shelter workers. Compassion fatigue is a phenomenon in which individuals become traumatized through the process of helping others. The sample included seven current and former animal shelter workers. The researchers conducted semi-structured interviews to examine general experiences with animal shelter work as well as compassion fatigue. The researchers read the transcripts multiple times and coded the data into themes and sub-themes. Four major themes and five sub-themes emerged from the data. These themes were 1) Intrinsic Motivations including (a) Right reason, (b) Affinity with animals and (c) Attachment to animals; 2) Purpose, including (a) Making a difference and (b) Focusing on the positive; 3) Social supports; and 4) Coping Strategies. The study has important practical implications, including the potential benefits of screening job applicants for intrinsic motivations and fostering positive relationships between coworkers and the animals they work with.

Meaghan M. Meyer, Anna K. Johnson & Elizabeth A. Bobeck (2020) Development and Validation of Broiler Welfare Assessment Methods for Research and On-farm Audits, Journal of Applied Animal Welfare Science, 23:4, 433-446, DOI: 10.1080/10888705.2019.1678039
Required auditing of on-farm broiler welfare in the United States has increased; however, a lack of validated tools exists for assessment of enrichment. National Chicken Council (NCC) guidelines were used on a subset of 300 Ross 308 broilers out of 1200 to validate and adapt welfare measures. Half of the broilers were exposed to environmental enrichment, hence these measures were used to evaluate the enrichment within the context of behavior and welfare, although the nature of the enrichment is not described in detail here as the aim is to serve solely as a description and validation of methods using a subset of example data. Birds were recorded in repeated 4-min periods to quantify behavior and walking distance. Outcomes were categorized to improve auditing and make recommendations to producers and researchers. Bone mineral density, content, and breaking strength were successful in determining numerical differences. Quantifying lameness using an enclosed walkway and measuring footpad dermatitis weekly are recommended on-farm. We recommend including additional measures not required by the NCC: monitoring breast condition in the flock and including a behavior component with a scoring ethogram.


ASI is very pleased to announce a new OPEN ACCESS article in the ASI-managed journal, Society & Animals, Human-Animal Studies: Remembering the Past, Celebrating the Present, Troubling the Future.” Written by ASI Board President and Secretary, Ken Shapiro, the article is a long-awaited follow up to Shapiro’s seminal and defining 2008 white paper, “Human-Animal Studies: Growing the Field, Applying the Field.“ Covering the scope of Human-Animal Studies, the history of the field, current theory, and methodological and political challenges as we move the field forward, this important work should prove valuable to all HAS scholars and those interested in the field!

The Animals & Society Research Initiative has launched a Writing Animals Program, which is intended as a motivational forum for animal law and policy scholars to come together to move forward in their writing projects, generate outstanding scholarship, and further the academic and public influence of animal law and policy as a field. The program consists of:
·      Writing Practice, 9-week series
·      2.5 hours online twice-weekly, Tuesdays and Thursdays, 11:00 a.m. – 1:35 p.m. (PST)
·      Winter 2021 Session: Jan. 12–Mar. 11, 2021
·      Writing mentorship with Brooks Animal Studies Academic Network (BASAN) scholars
Please view the attached poster PDF for full information. This program is being offered at no cost. Find out more by emailing Maneesha Deckha.

This month’s LINK-Letter from the National Resource Center on The Link between Animal Abuse and Human Violence covers the following: New studies are finding that animal hoarding has lifelong adverse effects on children, and that animal sexual abuse is Linked to sex trafficking and the “dark web”; Judges are asking questions about pet abuse in motions to dissolve domestic violence protection orders; and a study in Detroit Links animal cruelty with neighborhood crimes and blight. 

The Multi-Species Dementia Network is an international network of researchers, activists, policy-makers, and practitioners working across a range of disciplines, with a shared interest in dementia and inter-species relationships. The network aims to provide a shared space in which members can explore their common interest in dementia and multi-species relations, from animal-assisted therapy in dementia care, to the role of gardening in the lives of people with dementia, and the ways in which personhood and subjectivity in dementia may be influenced by our entanglements with more than human life. They are hosting a series of webinars, the most recent of which focused on facilitating multi-species dementia care in the time of COVID-19. (A recording of this webinar can be viewed here.) You can join the Multi-Species Dementia Network  via their website, or by completing their Google contact form. Questions can be submitted to Sarah Swift.

HAS Funding and Opportunities

The Max-Planck-Institut für Wissenschaftsgeschichte in Berlin, Germany is advertising a three-year post-doc beginning September 1, 2021, for the working group "Reclaiming Turtles All the Way Down: Animal Cosmologies and Paths to Indigenous Sciences." The application deadline is January 15, 2021.

Harvard Law School's Animal Law & Policy Program is now accepting Visiting Fellow applications for the 2021-22 Academic Year. The Animal Law & Policy Visiting Fellowships provide opportunities for outstanding scholars from a range of disciplines and legal practitioners to spend from three months to one academic year undertaking research, writing, and scholarly engagement on academic projects in the field of animal law and policy. The deadline to submit applications is January 15, 2021.

The Culture and Animals Foundation is accepting proposals for grants aimed at funding academic and artistic projects that raise public awareness about animal rights. Grants are awarded in three categories: Research (scholarly projects about animal advocacy and its cultural roots and impact); Creativity (original work by artists and thinkers that expresses positive concern for animals); and Performance (public performances and exhibitions to raise awareness of animal advocacy). Find out more HEREProposals will be accepted until January 31, 2021.

The Human-Animal Bond Research Insititute (HABRI) has released its 2021 request for proposals to investigate the health outcomes of pet ownership and/or animal-assisted activity or therapy, both for the people and the animals involved. Proposals are due February 11, 2021

A funded Ph.D position on “Theories and practices of justice beyond the human” is available through the University of Sydney. This emergent research theme aims to understand how concepts, practices and institutions of justice need to be transformed to take into account the interests and flourishing of all beings, human and more than human. No deadline given.

Podcasts, Webinars, and Virtual Lectures

This new section includes both upcoming live events, and past events that were recorded.

The Animals & Society Research Initiative, as a part of its distinguished lecture series, is hosting a Zoom lecture, “Alien Athena: Reclaiming Our Posthuman Past,” with Stefan Dolgert, Associate Professor of Political Science at Brock University. It will take place Tuesday, Jan. 19, 2021. 12:30 – 1:50 p.m. PST. Register here.

Cosponsored by American Sociological Association, The Australian Sociological Association, and the Canadian Sociological Association, the International Association of Vegan Sociologists (IAVS) has posted recordings of conference presentations from their first annual meeting, “Worldly Togetherness.” IAVS also provides podcasts from its series, “Sociology & Animals Series 1—Strategies for Success in the Sociological Study of Animals and Society.”

The Anthrozoology Podcast: ”Discussing Humanimality Episode 5: Animals as Immigrants” is now available. The episode, considers animal movement across the globe and boundaries happens within contested spaces leaving animals wanted, unwanted, forced, coerced or in liminal landscapes of uncertainty.

The Knowing Animals podcast, Episode 155, features a discussion with Kim Stallwood, an independent academic and long-time professional animal advocate, of his chapter "A Felicitous Day for Fish,” and the Kim Stallwood Archive, which is a collection of research materials now housed at the British Library.

Presentations from the ISAZ 2020 conference, including recordings of the live events and all pre-recorded presentations, are now available online

Sessions from the International Animal Rights Conference are now available on the group’s YouTube channel. 

New HAS Books and Monographs

Following are some recent books published of interest to the field of Human-Animal Studies.

Éric Baratay, Ed., 2020. Croiser les sciences pour lire les Animaux (Crossing Sciences to Read Animals), Éditions de la Sorbonne, October 2020. 

Tom L. Beauchamp and David DeGrazia, 2020. Principles of Animal Research EthicsOxford University Press. New York.

Bradshaw, Karen, 2020. Wildlife as Property Owners: A New Conception of Animal RightsUniversity of Chicago Press

Sarat Colling, 2020. Animal Resistance in the Global Capitalist Era. Michigan State University Press.

Fournier, Angela, 2019. Animal-Assisted Intervention: Thinking Empirically. Palgrave McMillann.

Eduardo Gonçalves, 2020. Trophy Leaks: Trophy Hunters and Industry Secrets Revealed. Independently published. 

Kendall-Morwick, Karalyn, 2020. Canis Modernis: Human/Dog Coevolution in Modernist Literature. Penn State University Press.

Turner, Lynn, 2020. Poetics of Deconstruction: On the threshold of differences. London: Bloomsbury.

New HAS Articles and Book Chapters

Following are some recent research articles and book chapters published in the field of Human-Animal Studies.

Piers Beirne, 2020. Wildlife Trade and COVID-19: Towards a Criminology of Anthropogenic Pathogen Spillover. The British Journal of Criminology, azaa084,

Bridgeland-Stephens, Lelia, The Illegal Wildlife Trade: Through The Eyes of a One-Year-Old Pangolin (Manis javanica), Animal Studies Journal, 9(2), 2020, 111-146.
Available at:

Mueller, M. K., Anderson, E. C., King, E. K., & Urry, H. L. (2020, April 23). Mechanisms of Anxiety Reduction in Animal-Assisted Interventions for Adolescents. PsyArXiv.

Pérez Fraga, P., Gerencsér, L. & Andics, A. Human proximity seeking in family pigs and dogs. Sci Rep 1020883 (2020).

Nik Taylor, Heather Fraser, Damien W. Riggs, 2020. Companion-animal-inclusive domestic violence practice: Implications for service delivery and social work. Aotearoa New Zealand Social Work, 32(4).

Arian D. Wallach, et al., 2020. Recognizing animal personhood in compassionate conservationConservation Biology, 34(5), 1097-1106.

Calls for Papers: Journals and Chapters

A call is out for papers for the forthcoming Health and Human Rights Journal—a novel issue focused on how the treatment of nonhuman animals is relevant to health and human rights. The following subjects are of particular interest: relationships between the legal, political, and economic treatment of nonhuman animals and the natural environment, and health and human rights; how international frameworks such as the One Health Initiative and the Sustainable Development Goals address, or could better address, the right to health (including for nonhuman animals); and the potential influence of expansive rights frameworks, including other than human rights, on human health outcomes. Submission requirements can be found herePapers are due March 31, 2021.

A call is out for chapters on any topic relating to the nonhuman in American literary naturalism for an edited volume, The Nonhuman in American Literary Naturalism, to be edited by Kenneth K. Brandt and Karin M. Danielsson. Proposals are due by the deadline of the January 8, 2021, and full drafts of essays (5000–8000 words) will be due September 1, 2021. Please send a 500-word maximum proposal and include, a title, a maximum of five key words, and a brief biography  to and

The open-access journal, Animals, will publish a special issue on "Social Isolation and the Roles That Animals Play in Supporting the Lives of Humans: Lessons for COVID19." Deadline for manuscript submissions is April, 30 2021

People and Animals: The International Journal of Research and Practice has issued a call for articles on “The Impact of COVID-19 on Human-Animal Interactions in Families, Communities and Organizations.” The call is open until June 30, 2021, but articles can be submitted at any time and will be published incrementally. Submit here.

Calls for Papers: Conferences
and Workshops

The Equine History Collective invites proposals for its third annual (and first virtual) conference, March 12, 2021. The theme of the conference is “Equine Ecologies and Economies,” inviting papers that explore the ties entwining equids for natural and cultural landscapes. The deadline for submissions is January 15, 2021.

The International Society for Anthrozoology has announced a call for abstracts for consideration for the 2021 virtual conference, which will be live streamed on June 22-24, 2021. The theme for ISAZ 2021 is “The Changing Nature of Human-Animal Relationships: Theory, Research, and Practice.” More details about the conference are at Abstract submission will open December 15, 2020. The call for abstracts will close on Friday January 29, 2021 at 17:00 (EST).

From May 25-29, 2021, the Faculty of Kinesiology at the University of New Brunswick in Fredericton, New Brunswick, Canada and Miami University in Oxford, Ohio, USA will host a virtual conference on Sport, Animals, & Ethics. They are inviting papers focused on ethical issues related to the involvement of animals in the context of sport, recreation, or leisure. We welcome a wide spectrum of submissions; e.g., from direct use such as hunting animals to indirect involvement; e.g., the environmental/animal impact of golf courses. Abstracts are due Friday, January 29, 2021. Contact Gabriela Tymowski-Gionet for more information.

An international and interdisciplinary conference held by the Research Centre “European Dream Cultures” of the German Research Foundation (DFG) has issued a call for papers on “Dreams and the Animal Kingdom in Culture and Aesthetic Media” to be held September 23-25, 2021 at Saarland University, Saarbrücken (Germany). Submit proposals to no later than January, 15 2021.

The virtual Animal Advocacy Conference, “Insights from the Social Sciences,” will take place June 30 – July 2, 2021. This conference uniquely bridges the gap between academic researchers and activists/professionals in the field of vegan and animal rights advocacy. To contact the conference organizers, please email submission portal will close on February 28, 2021.

The Centre for Human-Animal Studies will host the 7th Biennial Conference of the European Association for Critical Animal Studies (EACAS). The conference, EACAS 2021: Appraising Critical Animal Studies, will be virtual and will take place June 24-25, 2021. Papers are welcomed from all disciplines and sub-fields, and from those working independently or as part of advocacy/activist movements. Abstracts are due February 28, 2021.

As you can see, there is a tremendous amount of activity and progress going on today in the field of Human-Animal Studies, and we always invite your input and participation.

Your donation to the Animals & Society Institute will enable us to continue to expand the field in many more ways and work in conjunction with others around the world who share these goals.

Thank you for supporting our Human-Animal Studies efforts!

Gala Argent, PhD
Human-Animal Studies Program Director