Environmental Correlates of Urban Dog Bites: A Spatial Analysis

By Laura Reese

ace
Dear Ace, you came into my lobby, crouched behind my door and stared blankly at the wall, shaking. I could see your pain – I fed you, warmed you and you rewarded me by finally looking into my eyes, and for a moment, we shared your pain. I reached for the phone, thinking that I could find you a better life…. Instead I sent you to your death. Please forgive me. You did not die in vain, nor will you be forgotten. This I promise you. Your last but far from only friend. – Mark, Ace Hardware, Detroit, 11-10-11

 

In November of 2011, an emaciated pit bull-type dog was found outside of an Ace Hardware store in Detroit.  A concerned citizen called City of Detroit Animal Control (DAC).  The dog, known as “Ace,” quickly became a media cause célèbre and pleas to “Save Ace” and offers of adoption from individuals and rescue groups flooded in.  Yet, Ace was euthanized within the state-mandated four-day holding period for stray dogs, in violation of a court injunction ordering a hold on euthanasia of pit bulls at DAC, even in the face of publicity that spread around the world.  The incident pitted a host of nonprofit rescue groups and licensed animal shelters against the city bureaucracy.  Media coverage highlighted not only the plight of stray and feral dogs in Detroit but also the policies and practices at DAC, the City’s municipal animal shelter.

For those in the animal welfare community like me, Ace was a galvanizing moment.  While I had been volunteering at my local animal shelter for years, the plight of Ace caused me to start thinking about animal welfare more broadly, particularly its connections to other urban issues and processes.  I’ve spent a career conducting research on local economic development, particularly in extremely distressed cities such as Detroit.  I began to see the connections between the economic distress of Detroit and its residents, and a variety of issues related to animals, particularly dogs, in the city.  Animal welfare issues in Detroit generally are exacerbated by several interconnected factors: economic distress, vacancy and abandonment, stray and feral dogs, high risk of dog bites, and strong connections between these factors and crime, particularly involving dog fighting.  The City has high numbers of stray and feral dogs. The economic misfortunes of residents have resulted in relocations, leaving animals homeless and reducing already limited resources for animal healthcare, particularly for spay and neutering services.  The roaming animal problem in particular is exacerbated by foreclosures, vacancies, and structural abandonment leaving habitats for stray and feral animals to shelter and for illegal activities such as dog fighting to be conducted.  Ace was a very visible symbol of the roaming dog problem in Detroit and the city’s inability to address it and led me to think more broadly about local economic distress and the impact on both human and nonhuman animals.

One implication of a large stray and feral dog population is the potential threat to human health in the form of dog bites.  Dog bites are among the top causes of nonfatal injuries in the United States, leading to what has been described as a “dog bite epidemic.” By age 12, more than half the children in the US have experienced a dog bite which can lead to rabies, infections, psychological trauma, disfigurement, and occasionally death.  There are over 40 zoonotic diseases in the United States that can be passed from dogs and cats to humans, either through bites or proximity, including rabies, leptospirosis, ringworm, giardia and other parasites, and tuberculosis.  The psychological consequences of dog bites can be severe, including fear of recreating outdoors or walking to school, PTSD, and phobias about dogs or other animals.  Obviously dog bites and attacks have a very direct impact on urban health but fear of bites from roaming dogs can also have indirect effects on both mental and physical health as residents (particularly children) limit walking in their neighborhoods due to concerns about bites.

Much of the academic research on the causes and correlates of dog bites comes from the fields of veterinary medicine and public health.  The former studies tend to focus on correlates related to the nature of the dog—breed, size, living conditions, sterilization status, sex.  Some of this work has also explored the impacts of human behavior such as neglect, tethering of dogs outdoors, and the fact that many dogs that bite were provoked.  The latter research focuses on the human victims of dog bites which overwhelmingly tend to be children and/or males.  None of the research on dog bite risk has come from an urban policy perspective, particularly one that considers spatial relationships between markers of economic distress and increased bite risk.  The findings in our article raise important issues of spatial injustice in the health risks associated with dog bites.

Residents in poverty, living in neighborhoods with high levels of vacancy and abandonment, have a higher risk of dog bites.  This is the result of a number of factors including the presence of more roaming dogs, under socialized and unsterilized dogs, and more crime associated the dog fighting.  Research has shown strong patterns of environmental injustice in that poorer residents of color are more likely to live in proximity to contaminated sites.  In the same vein and for many of the same reasons, they are also more likely to reside in neighborhoods where dog bites are more likely to occur.

Extant statistical models predicting health risk from dog bites based solely on traits of the victim have relatively weak predictive power. The impact of using incomplete models is that health disparities are not fully understood and preventative policies that focus on education about individual interactions with dogs will be insufficient to address conditions in the urban environment that lead to increased risks for particular individuals. Our research explores the interplay among risk factors for dog bites and contributes to scientific and policy knowledge in its explicit focus on environmental factors—such as vacant and abandoned land and buildings, crime, blight, and the location of urban features such as schools and bus stops—that are not well examined as correlates of dog bites and how these factors work to create disproportionate risks for racial and ethnic minorities and economically disadvantaged populations.

From a public policy perspective, our research shows that efforts to improve public health by decreasing the risk of dog bites must take a multipronged approach because the factors related to bites are complex.  Police must target breeding and dog fighting operations.  The chaining (and hence under-socialization) of dogs in back yards needs to be limited through more stringent enforcement of animal control ordinances.  Licensing and sterilization of dogs need to be facilitated through humane education programs and support for low cost veterinary care.  Children must be taught how to interact with dogs and must be supervised when doing so.  Abandoned buildings need to be removed and the feral dogs living in them need to be caught and delivered to animal control, shelters, and rescues.  The policies, funding, and capacity of these organizations need to be at a level that necessary animal control services can be provided in an effective and humane manner.

These efforts will both reduce the health risks of dog bites to city residents and improve animal welfare more generally.  And, thus, we come full circle back to Ace.  The complexity of the causes of dog bites illustrates why simplistic solutions such as bans on particular breeds of dogs (such as presumed pit bulls) will not reduce the number of dog bites in a city (and indeed research has shown that such bans are not effective because all types of dogs can and do bite).  Because of the tight connections between human and nonhuman animal welfare the types of policies that are most likely to reduce human health risk from bites are also those that will improve conditions for the city’s animals and help ensure that future “Aces” have a better outcome.

Laura Reese is Professor of Urban and Regional Planning and Political Science, and Director of the Global Urban Studies Program, at Michigan State University.

The full article, Environmental Correlates of Urban Dog Bites: A Spatial Analysis, by Joshua Vertalka, Laura A. Reese, Melinda J. Wilkins & Jesenia M. Pizarro, is published in the current issue of JUA (volume 40, issue 3) and is currently available with free access, for a limited time.

Is it all in the eye of the beholder? Benefits of living in mixed-income neighborhoods in New York and Los Angeles.

Is it all in the eye of the beholder? Benefits of living in mixed-income neighborhoods in New York and Los Angeles, by Elena Vesselinov, Mary Clare Lennon & Renaud Le Goix, appears in Volume 40, Issue 2 of the Jorunal of Urban Affairs and is currently available for free access.

By Elena Vesselinov

I am very enthusiastic about this article, because it is the first published article related to my latest project on organic mixed-income neighborhoods. In this article, we discuss the differences between “design-politics” and “organic” mixed-income neighborhoods. Design-politics neighborhoods are communities influenced by the federal housing policies in integrating former public housing residents with higher income groups. It is believed that such income integration will be beneficial to lower-income groups, where through better housing conditions and role-modeling they will create better lives. The question is do policy intentions correspond to reality, thus the title of the paper, “Is it all in the eye of the beholder?” Is this policy a wishful thinking or a reality?

The research evidence about design-politics communities, most notably established in Robert Chaskin and Mark Joseph’s book “Integrating the Inner City,” is rather controversial, or as the saying goes, the jury is still out on whether or not there is actual neighborhood integration. It seems that impenetrable social boundaries remain around issues both of class and race. Lower-income residents still tend to be more connected to each other, with little to no interactions with higher income group members.

Even though we at least have a growing body of work on outcomes in design-politics neighborhoods, not much is known about benefits of real-life mixed-income communities. In cities such as New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, and many others, we can find hundreds of neighborhoods, where people from diverse economic backgrounds live. What I would like to do is find out more about the naturally occurring mixed-income communities, formed without explicit government intervention. Therefore, these naturally formed communities I called “organic mixed-income neighborhoods.”

In this paper we present evidence of the association between mixed-income communities and the mortgage foreclosure crisis for two metropolitan areas: New York and Los Angeles.  In both cities, mixed-income neighborhoods are characterized by a better socioeconomic context compared not only to lower-income neighborhoods but also to low-middle-income neighborhoods. This is reflected in a range of factors such as higher income, higher house prices, higher homeownership rates, higher educational levels, and lower levels of subprime loans. In addition, controlling for relevant neighborhood contextual factors, mixed-income neighborhoods are less likely to be found in foreclosure spatial clusters compared to lower-income and low-middle-income communities.

In our work, we applied two independently constructed neighborhood typologies, where mixed-income neighborhoods were identified, firstly, as a reflection of the metropolitan income composition and, secondly, based on the entropy score. Regardless of the method used, the selection of mixed-income tracts produced communities that also had a racial/ethnic composition comparable to the overall metropolitan racial/ethnic composition. Therefore, based on our findings as well as on prior research using various selection criteria, income diversity seems, at least to some degree, to correspond to racial/ethnic diversity.

I find that it is important to continue this line of research and study the specific context across metropolitan areas in the United States. If it is found that organic mixed-income communities are consistently associated with benefits and better socio-economic residential conditions, policies could be developed to incentivize already existing communities. It seems plausible to expect that creating incentives tailored to specific social, economic and political contexts should be more effective, efficient and less costly than engineering residential contexts with dubious results.

Elena Vesselinov is an Associate Professor of Sociology at Queens College and The Graduate Center at the City University of New York.

CALL FOR PROPOSALS: Special Issue on “Contributions of Community Psychology to Urban Research and Policy”

Special Issue of Journal of Urban Affairs on “Contributions of Community Psychology to Urban Research and Policy”

The Journal of Urban Affairs invites proposals for articles to be published in a special issue on “Contributions of Community Psychology to Urban Research and Policy,” guest edited by Jennifer Watling Neal (Michigan State University).

The field of community psychology focuses on solving social problems and encouraging wellbeing by examining transactions between individuals and larger social systems including organizations (e.g., schools, workplaces), local neighborhoods, and cities (for example definitions of community psychology, see Dalton et al., 2007; Rappaport, 1977; Seidman, 1988). Given this focus, community psychologists have a long history of contribution to understandings of metropolitan and community problems, urban social change, and urban policy. For example, community psychologists have focused their research on a range of urban topics including (but not limited to) homelessness and housing policy, community organizing, community development, neighborhood risk and protective factors for youth, neighborhood sense of community, neighborhood crime, and the delivery of community-based services. Papers in this special issue will focus on contributions of the field of community psychology to urban research and policy (broadly construed).

The special issue welcomes empirical, theoretical, and review papers as well as a variety of methodological approaches (e.g., quantitative, qualitative, mixed methods).  To qualify for inclusion in the special issue, is not sufficient for research to simply be conducted within an urban area or community. Instead, all papers submitted for the special issue should (1) foreground the role of theory or methods from the field of community psychology in (2) addressing a particular metropolitan or community problem, and (3) should highlight implications for urban social change and/or policy. 

Interested authors should submit a detailed 500-750 word proposal to Jennifer Watling Neal by email (jneal@msu.edu) by April 15, 2018.  Proposals will be screened based on their fit to the special issue and their quality (i.e., potential for impact on the literature, sound methodology, and writing). Authors of selected proposals will be invited to upload their papers to Scholar One for peer review by August 31, 2018. Questions about this special issue or the suitability of a particular manuscript or idea can be directed to Jennifer Watling Neal  at jneal@msu.edu.

References

Dalton, J.H., Elias, M.J., & Wandersman, A. (2007). Community Psychology: Linking individuals and communities. Belmont, CA: Thomson Wadsworth Publishing.

Rappaport, J.  (1977).  Community psychology: Values, research, and action. New York: Holt, Rinehart, & Winston.

Seidman, E.  (1988).  Back to the future, community psychology: Unfolding a theory of social intervention.  American Journal of Community Psychology, 16, 3-24.

 

 

Special Issue: The Citizens in City-regions

Special Issue: The Citizens in City-regions

Guest editors: Anders Lidström and Linze Schaap

For the first time ever, a special collection of papers on the citizens in city-regions has been published in the Journal of Urban Affairs.

It has become increasingly relevant to develop knowledge about citizenship in a city-regional setting as more people all over the world now live in city-regions. Commuting on a daily basis is common in city-regions as places for housing, work, and leisure are usually separated. This tends to weaken the connection to the municipality of residence, and creates patterns of territorial identification and political activism that extend beyond the municipality. This broadens the role of being a citizen and challenges existing—usually fragmented—patterns of governance and democracy in the city-region. The articles in this special issue investigate how patterns of city-regional citizenship vary between individuals and contexts.

Table of Contents (articles are available for free access, for a limited time!)

1. The Citizens in the City-Regions: Patterns and Variations, by Anders Lidström and Linze Schaap.

2. Being metropolitan: the effects of individual and contextual factors on shaping metropolitan identity, by Joan-Josep Vallbé, Jaume Magre, Mariona Tomàs

3. Territorial political orientations in Swedish city-regions, by Anders Lidström

4. How Metropolitan can you go? Citizenship in Polish city-regions, by Marta Lackowska and Łukasz Mikuła

5. Citizenship in the fragmented metropolis: an individual-level analysis from Switzerland, by Daniel Kübler

6. Sharing fairly? Mobility, citizenship and gender relations in two Swedish city-regions, by Christine Hudson

7. Regional or Parochial? Support for Cross-Community Sharing within City-Regions, by Michael Leo Owens and Jane Lawrence Sumner

8. Citizens’ Views on Governance in Two Swedish City-Regions, by Niklas Eklund

9. What About Metropolitan Citizenship? Attitudinal Attachment of Residents to Their City-Region, by Melanie Walter-Rogg

Anders Lidström is a professor in the Department of Political Science at Umeå University.

Linze Schaap is an associate professor in the Department of Politics and Public Administration, and at the Tilburg Center for Regional Law and Governance (TiREG), at Tilburg University.

Book Review Preview: How to Kill a City

By Dennis E. Gale

Peter Moskowitz. How to Kill a City. (New York: Nation Books, 2017)

Journalist Moskowitz pens a provocative book arguing that gentrification — in virtually all of its dimensions — destroys communities. An impassioned writer, he centers his critique on case studies of four U.S. cities: New Orleans, Detroit, San Francisco, and New York. Through a series of interviews, direct observations of local conditions, and citations of various published sources he argues that the forces of gentrification are destroying the social diversity of neighborhood life.

Despite his myriad attacks on gentrification and its impacts on working class people, Moskowitz is quick to acknowledge that, yes, he too is a gentrifier. In his native New York, he and his friends patronize clubs and bars in areas undergoing reinvestment. He acknowledges that some of these establishments have replaced other businesses once catering to the needs of low- and moderate-income families. And shifting demographic patterns have replaced racial and ethnic populations with college-educated elites. He skewers the public and private sectors, both of which, he insists, court wealth, income, and public revenues at the expense of long-term residents.

Moskowitz shows that even Detroit and New Orleans, two cities long challenged by population losses, physical decline, and financial disparities, are nonetheless experiencing moderate levels of public and private reinvestment. In both cases, city leaders have adopted policies catalyzing middle-income housing construction and renovation. At the other extreme, he writes, San Francisco and New York, both metropolises seemingly overwhelmed by the forces of gentrification, demonstrate the extent to which the Weltanschauung of urban life can undergo fundamental changes. Nothing illustrates this better than Moskowitz’s colorful walking tour across Manhattan, in which he reveals his deep nostalgia for the city of his youthful memories.

Readers seeking a balanced treatment of gentrification will probably be disappointed by this book. On the other hand, those dedicated to the proposition that gentrification’s overall costs outweigh its benefits will find plentiful grist for the mill.

The full book review will appear in an upcoming issue of the Journal of Urban Affairs.

Dennis E. Gale
Professor Emeritus, Rutgers University
Lecturer, Stanford University
Dennis.Gale@fulbrightmail.org

CALL FOR PAPERS: JUA Special Issue on Black Meccas of the South

DEADLINE EXTENDED TO JANUARY 15, 2018

Call for Papers: JUA Special Issue
Black Meccas of the South

The Journal of Urban Affairs invites article submissions for a special issue on “Black Meccas of the South,” guest edited by Kali-Ahset Amen (Emory University) and Deirdre Oakley (Georgia State University).

Employing an inter-American framework to interrogate and reposition the Black Mecca landscape, this special issue will: (1) attend to the time-specific, particular and undertheorized character of southern cities as actual and possible Black Meccas; (2) contend with the conceptual limitations of U.S.-centric, northern, and nation-bound categories of urban black place-making; and (3) explore the significance of economic, cultural, and people flows between hemispheric southern spaces (e.g. U.S. Deep South, the Caribbean, and coastal regions of Central and South America) in the making and re-scaling of black/Afro-descendant urban place and space. For this special issue, we invite submissions of empirical, theoretical, and review papers that examine these issues in relation to urban Afro-descendant populations along a number of place-making dimensions.

Interested authors should submit a 150-word abstract to the guest editors by email at JUAblackmeccas@gmail.com. Abstracts must be received by January 15, 2018. Following the review of abstracts, selected authors must submit final papers to the guest editors for initial evaluation by March 30, 2018. Once evaluated, the guest editors will instruct the authors to upload their papers to Scholar One for peer review. Questions about this special issue should be submitted to the email above.

*****

Overview. In the U.S. context, the term Black Mecca has typically referred to cities where African Americans have better employment opportunities, a large black middle class, a black political elite, historically black colleges and universities, as well as prominent incubators of black arts, music, culture and other innovations. Depending on their location, such cities may or may not feature black demographic majorities. In the North and Mid-West, New York, NY and Chicago, IL have been regarded as black cultural meccas since the 1920s. An anchor for black middle class strivers, Washington, D.C. long reigned as a Mid-Atlantic mecca, bearing the moniker “Chocolate City.” Atlanta, GA emerged as the archetypal, modern Black Mecca, first noted in a 1971 Ebony Magazine article touting this southern city as a place where “[b]lack folks have more, live better, accomplish more and deal with whites more effectively than they do anywhere else in the South—or North” (Garland 1971: 152).*

Black Meccas are at a crossroads. Today, widening social inequality confounds the prosperity narrative at the core of the Black Mecca ideal. Major U.S. cities are facing structural transformations (e.g. gentrification, suburbanization of poverty, labor deskilling, and redistricting) that have diminished or reconfigured traditional political-economic and place-based markers of the Black Mecca. Persistent anti-black racism only compounds the racial taint of these shifts. While similar pressures affect all Black Meccas, southern cities like Atlanta, Miami, FL and Charlotte, NC have shown modest resilience as sites of black opportunity and are even growing as destinations for black migration. Some black migrants are heading South from northern metropolitan areas once known as Black Meccas; others are emigrating across national borders to and from Africa, the Caribbean, and Latin America; still others have relocated from coastal southern cities in the wake of man-made and natural disasters. In view of these realities, we suggest that relational and comparative analytics are needed to understand racial and place formation in historical and emergent Black Meccas of the South in particular.

Regional and racial place-making reconsidered: Black Meccas of the Inter-American South. Our interest in the South responds to the northern and western regional bias dominant in African American urban historiography until the turn of the millennium. We seek to engage an expanding volume of scholarship which investigates, on the one hand, contemporary urban cultures of the black U.S. South, and varied articulations of blackness in Central America, South America and the Caribbean, on the other. The cultural, economic, environmental, and political ties among these geographies are long-standing, as are their variegated linkages to U.S. imperial and racial projects.

Since the 1990s, urbanists have connected local processes of place-making to global systemic processes that reinscribe space within a global political and cultural economy. Likewise, interdisciplinary scholars of the “new Southern studies” framework appeal to the analysis of a transnational South that locates regional processes within a global context. Along these lines, we define the inter-American South as a transoceanic geography that includes the U.S. Deep South, the Caribbean, and coastal regions of Central and South America with significant densities of Afro-descendant populations. We urge attention to trans-local and transnational processes that shape the conditions out of which Black Meccas emerge, decline, shift, or fail to exist at all. Attending to the interplay of urbanization, racialization, and black empowerment in Latin American and Caribbean cities is of key importance because they have been significant centers of innovation for Afro-descendant populations. In many cases, they are places from which Afro-descendants have migrated to Black Meccas of the U.S. South over the generations. With this broader framing in mind, we seek to highlight the interconnectedness of southern places and peoples, even as we probe local singularities of black agency and spatiality.

*Phyl Garland “Atlanta: Black Mecca of the South” Ebony Magazine, August 1971, pp. 152-160.

  1. Submit 150-word abstract to JUAblackmeccas@gmail.com by January 15, 2018.
  2. Selected authors must submit final papers to the guest editors by March 30, 2017 to the email above.
  3. Once evaluated, the guest editors will instruct the authors to upload their papers to Scholar One for peer review.
  4. Questions about this special issue should be submitted to JUAblackmeccas@gmail.com.

CALL FOR PAPERS: Special Issue on “Cities, Networks, & Urban Policy”

Special Issue of Journal of Urban Affairs on “Cities, Networks, & Urban Policy”

The Journal of Urban Affairs invites article submissions for a special issue on “Cities, Networks, & Urban Policy,” guest edited by Zachary Neal (Michigan State University) and Ben Derudder (Universiteit Gent). References to ‘urban networks’ in scientific books and articles have grown exponentially over the past years. Research on the topic now extends across many social and natural science disciplines and over many scales of analysis from the intra-urban formation of social networks among neighbours, to the regional formation of transportation networks between cities, to the formation of transnational economic networks between global cities. Papers in this special issue will explore the ways that research on cities and networks has, or can, inform urban policy (broadly construed).

We welcome empirical, theoretical, and review papers. Additionally, we welcome papers adopting quantitative, qualitative, and mixed-methods approaches. However, all papers submitted for this special issue should (a) foreground the role of networks (broadly construed) in cities and (b) should conclude with or discuss implications for urban policy (also broadly construed).

Interested authors should submit their manuscript first to the guest editors by email (zpneal@msu.edu & ben.derudder@ugent.be). Following an initial review to confirm the manuscript meets the aims of the special issue, instructions for formal submission to the journal will be provided. Initial submissions must be received by 15 March 2018.

Questions about the journal, special issue, or suitability of a particular manuscript or idea can be directed to Zachary Neal at zpneal@msu.edu.