Sara Owczarczak-Garstecka

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Sara holds a BSc in Anthropology from the University College London, MSc in Gender from London School of Economics and an MSc in Clinical Animal Behaviour from the University of Lincoln. Before starting her PhD, she has worked for a number of not-for-profit organisations in various research, analyst and recruitment roles. From 2010 she volunteered and later conducted research at Battersea Dogs and Cats Home, focusing on improving the welfare of shelter dogs. Sara has an experience in animal training and working with dog owners as a behaviour consultant and dog trainer.

Research Interests: Animal behaviour, Animal welfare, Behaviour change, Sociology of Risk, Social studies of science

Research project title: Dog Bites: Perception and Prevention

Project description: Dog bites and strikes led to 7,227 episodes of hospital admission in England and Wales between 2014-15 and a significant loss of income to businesses and individuals (Winter, 2015). Researchers commonly approach dog bites as a medical problem. As a result, what is overlooked is how an individual's social context, their work, and environment they live in shape their perceptions of risk and safety and influence their behaviour around dogs. The social context may also affect how the bite is experienced, for instance, two similar bites may have a profoundly different impact on individuals who live in different circumstances. This level of understanding is crucial for bite prevention as prevention campaigns are often based on a number of assumptions regarding: what people do around dogs before the bite, what they perceive as risk and safety, how they perceive dogs and dog bites and in what methods would prevent bites at a population level.

I use primarily qualitative methods (focus group discussions, in-depth qualitative interviews, participant-observations and document analysis) to examine the experiences and perceptions of dog bites and dog-related practices among people with different experiences of dogs and dog bites.

Supervisory team: Carri Westgarth, Francine Watkins, Rob Christley and Huadong Yang

ORCID: 0000-0001-5323-8117

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