Merrimon Book Reviews

From Merrimon Book Reviews
The Bond:
Our Kinship with Animals, Our Call to Defend Them
The Bond: Our Kinship with Animals, Our Call to Defend Them by Wayne Pacelle
by Wayne Pacelle

THE BOND, Wayne Pacelle, President and CEO of the Humane Society of the United States, explores the bond between animals and humans on multiple levels from the historic, the scientific, the religious and the personal.  From there, he proceeds to demonstrate how this bond has been broken.  He details the systematic cruelty of animals in the current industrialization of agriculture through examples of a closed slaughterhouse in California and an egg factory.  Wayne Pacelle discusses his encounters with Michael Vick, a famous NFL player sentenced to 18 months for dogfighting.  Pacelle examines the effect of Hurricane Katrina not only for the devastation caused to pets, but also to the human outpouring of help to pet owners and how this event changed disaster aid protocol.  The author examines the wildlife slaughters of bison, wolves and seals near Yellowstone, in Alaska and the ice floes of Canada.  In the final section, Wayne Pacelle examines the arguments given by the opposition to animal protection while unraveling the network of groups from the National Rifle Association to the more surprising American Veterinary Medical Association and the American Kennel Club who block animal welfare progress and sometimes even adopt policies that create abuse.  Wayne Pacelle concludes his examination of the bond between animals and humans with a call to celebrate our stewardship and to move away from the exploitation of animals.

Who would not want to minimize cruelty to animals?  The answers are sometimes surprising.  From the beginning, Pacelle juxtaposes the two poles of the human's relationship to animals.  Wayne Pacelle's THE BOND balances stories of horrendous abuse with stories that warm the heart, leaving one with hope about the future.  The stories of progress, such as that of the animal sanctuary Cleveland Armory Black Beauty Ranch and the inscription at its entryway, are often the ones to bring tears to the eyes. 

Despite the adorable heart-warming book jacket illustration, I found myself hesitant to read this book.  Could I really stomach the tales of the cruelty, especially when everyday I see the results in the special needs dog I adopted?  Was the book just another justification for another extremist position on animals?  I opened the first chapter.  Though sometimes moved to tears by tales of goodness, those hesitations quickly fell by the wayside the more I read.  One need not hesitate to pick up this particular book for those reasons.  Pacelle does not sanitize the suffering animals endure but neither does he sensationalize the details in an effort to inflame readers.  The facts are presented without bashing a reader over the head with graphic details.  Indeed, the most intriguing part of this book is the author's ability to examine both poles, the abusive and the protective, in the human interaction with animals.  Most fascinating is the author's ability to look into the face of the issues and to find unexpected sources to assist in animal welfare, from Michael Vick to veterinarian, gun supporter and former US Senator Allard.  A reader might expect a position against puppy mills or the NRA's arguments, but the author looks beyond stereotypical divides.  He does not hesitate to question some of PETA's assumptions or even animal shelters' ingrained acceptance of euthanasia.  He not only looks at puppy mills but also the consequent effects in AKC priority of breeding for looks over health.  He proposes a possible more financially beneficial business to replace seal slaughtering.  The author explores all sorts of ways in which we as humans betray the bond with animals but he leaves a reader with hope and innovative, creative solutions to problems that might seem insurmountable.

THE BOND is a provocative book for its ability to encourage readers to think beyond stereotypes or absolutes.  Wayne Pacelle's book also gives readers a glimpse into today's Humane Society as an organization that not only helps with shelters but also expands into many areas of animal welfare.  A list of of Fifty Ways to Help Animals at the end of the book gives readers many ideas how they can help.  The list engages readers on all levels rather than being a rigid manifesto.  Not all readers will want to follow his every suggestion, but the list provides several areas to rethink our actions and multiple levels of involvement in animal welfare.  THE BOND is a book to make you think and yearn for a more humane world, with clear ideas how we as a society and individuals might move towards that goal. 

Publisher: William Morrow (April 5, 2011)
The Humane Society of the United States receives a portion of the advances paid by the publisher and possible future royalties.

Reviewed by Merrimon, Merrimon Book Reviews
Merrimon Book Reviews

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