AP Style

AP style rules for animals

When it comes to animals, the AP Stylebook has several notes for reporters:

  • Avoid applying personal pronouns — he, she, him, her — to an animal unless its sex has been established or the animal has a name.
    • “Bernard the parakeet had a concerned look on his face as he watched the two children approach his cage.” NOT “The parakeet looked upset as he watched the cat nap on the couch.”
  • When writing about the breed of an animal, follow the spelling and capitalization rules of Webster’s New World College Dictionary. Generally, words derived from proper nouns are capitalized and all other words are lowercase.
    • “Sebastian the Italian greyhound lived in the penthouse of my apartment building and was owned by an elderly woman whose name I didn’t know. She also owned a whippet named Juliet.”
  • animal welfare activist
    • NOT animal rights activist
  • American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Refers only to the organization that operates in the five boroughs of New York City.
    • ASPCA is acceptable on second reference
      • Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Refers to autonomous chapters in other cities. “Harriett adopted her cat from the Dallas Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.”
        • SPCA is acceptable on second reference.
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