It’s Raining Dogs, Cats, and Injustice: Systematic Oppression Towards Pet Owners in the City of Newark

Author Biography:

My name is Katherine DeMottie and I am a senior double major in History and Law, Technology, & Culture at NJIT. After working at the animal shelter in Newark for a year, I became aware of certain injustices that were occurring when it came to dogs and cats in Newark, specifically through their owners’ inabilities to house them and a lack of access to veterinary care.

Site Description:

In post-war America, pet ownership has become a staple of many households. Dogs and cats specifically have proven themselves to be valiant companions, however the expected standard-of-care towards them is only reflective of that provided by the stereotypical White, middle/upper class household. People of color and lower classes (too often one and the same) are inhibited by systematic oppression that aims to dismantle their relationships with animals rather than nurture a heathy bond.

This site aims to discover the ways in which systems of oppression have affected pet owners in Newark and what, if anything, can or has been done to alleviate these obstacles.

Historical Questions:

How frequent has pet ownership been in Newark over the past decades, and what purpose does it traditionally serve?

What systems prevent Newark residents from engaging in “proper” pet ownership? How do we define the standard of care?

What actions have been taken by the residents to better their relationships with animals, and how has the city government responded?

Project Significance:

The inhibitions to pet ownership in Newark cannot continue. When the residents suffer, the animals suffer, thus putting more lives on the line than we could ever possibly know. By magnifying these issues and calling into question the environment that has fostered them, we can better identify potential solutions.


Race, class, African American, community, pets (add?)