Publishers Weekly® Reviews
- Reviewed in: Publishers Weekly, page 78.
- Review Date: 2007-03-26
- Reviewer: Staff
Animal experts Williams (who works for the Humane Society) and DeMello (Stories Rabbits Tell) deliver an excellent look at cruelty to animals on an institutional level in various industries, taking a "common sense perspective" and revealing many disturbing facts that could turn the most ardent meat eater into a hard-core vegetarian. The meat industry gets their toughest scrutiny: the authors show that while nearly 10 billion land animals are raised and killed for food each year in the U.S., "there are virtually no laws that protect them from the worst abuse." Williams and DeMello also vividly describe how more than 95% of the nation's 300 million egg-laying hens spend their entire lives—only 12 to 18 months—"crammed into barren, wire battery cages" where they lack the space to walk and spread their wings. Further, our turkeys are produced by artificial insemination using a sucking device that collects semen from males and then forcibly injects it into females. They are also equally hard on other industries, like cosmetics, textiles and the large commercial pet breeders who sell animals "well before weaning age" to outlets like Petco, Petsmart and Petland. This is a tough but fair-minded revelation of how mass production of animals for food and other purposes results in cruelty that usually remains hidden from sight. Photos. (June)
Why Animals Matter: The Case for Animal Protection
More than 65 million American households have a pet, so it's difficult to comprehend that many living creatures in this country are neglected, abused and cruelly murdered each year. Why Animals Matter: The Case for Animal Protection explores this contradiction as it exposes the suffering of domestic and wild animals in America. Bypassing "complicated philosophical arguments," authors Erin E. Williams of the Humane Society of the United States and Margo DeMello of the House Rabbit Society coolly present sordid details of the human-animal "relationship" in America, from the meat, textile, hunting and medical experiment industries, to the use of animals as family and entertainment. The realities are brutal and no myths are left unturned: That delicious Sunday roasted chicken survived on a factory farm in a cage so small it couldn't flap its wings, covered in feces and fattened until it couldn't stand, to provide dinner at the cheapest price possible. Rationalizations and arguments about history, necessity and overpopulation don't stand up to the heavily footnoted studies and points made here; if you're going to eat that chicken, at least honor it by acknowledging what it went through to get to your table. Why Animals Matter ends with a manifesto for compassion and decency toward all living things, but remains a difficult look at America's heart of darkness.