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Canadian news coverage is reflecting and shaping an evolution of thought about how we must publicly account for animals’ roles in the disability rights movement. Through a textual analysis of 26 news media articles published between 2012 and 2017, this research demonstrates that the media play a key role in reporting on discrimination, yet media narratives about service animals and their owners too often fail to capture the complexity of policies and laws that govern their lives. In Canada, there is widespread public confusion about the rights of disabled people and their service animals. This incertitude is relevant to both disability and animal oppression. This research identifies nine frames within the media narratives, as well as evaluating perspectives from critical animal studies in the news articles. These frames, which emerge in the media reports, in their descriptions of human and (less often) animal rights, illustrate public confusion surrounding these rights. The confusion is inevitable given the many laws in Canada that govern service animals. Thus, to give context to the news coverage, this article also surveys the legal protections for disabled people who use service animals in Canada, and suggests that until the news media understand the legalities surrounding service animals, they will not be well equipped to fulfil their role of informing the public. This is a lost opportunity in light of the media’s potential role as a pivotal tool to educate the public about disability and animal rights.


This article was originally published in Canadian Journal of Disability Studies, volume 9, issue 2, in 2020.

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Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.



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