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New Book Explores the Changing Status of Cats and Dogs

September 24, 2014

Science journalist David Grimm (Ph.D. 2004, Genetics) has written Citizen Canine: Our Evolving Relationship with Cats and Dogs, published by PublicAffairs. In the book, he traces the changing status of dogs and cats, which were wild animals before they became house pets and virtual family members. Their status in the public arena has also changed: in the courtroom, they are featured in custody cases and have been put on trial. They play new roles in society as soldiers, therapy animals, and rescue workers. And when pets are considered “legal persons,” the consequences can be bizarre, he argues.   

New York Times book critic Michiko Kakutani calls Citizen Canine “An engaging account of how dogs and cats came to be our best friends.”

After graduating from the University of California, San Diego, with a degree in biochemistry and cell biology, Grimm worked at the Salk Institute for a year before coming to Yale. As a graduate student, he helped found two magazines at Yale, B magazine and Palimpsest, and wrote for the Yale Daily News. In his fifth year at Yale, he was accepted into the American Association for the Advancement of Science’s Mass Media Fellowship program, which places scientists in newsrooms across the country. He worked for ten weeks at U.S. News and World Report, writing for their science and health section. After completing his Ph.D. with a dissertation titled “Localization and Function of the Autosomal Dominant Polycystic Kidney Disease Proteins Polycystin-1 and Polycystin-2” under adviser Michael Caplan, he decided to become a science journalist. Grimm began as an intern at Science and has been there ever since. In 2010, he won the 2010 Animal Reporting Award from the National Press Club for his article, “A Cure for Euthanasia?” His story, “The Mushroom Cloud’s Silver Lining,” was featured in The Best American Science and Nature Writing 2009. His work has appeared in Science, The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, Slate, Time, U.S. News and World Report, The Financial Times, and a variety of other publications.

Grimm currently lives in Baltimore with his wife (Amy Duffield, MD/Ph.D. 2005), twin girls, and twin cats. He credits the latter — Jasper and Jezebel — with inspiring his book.

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