Edited by Kim W. Stallwood
Lantern Books, New York 2001, 242 Pages, $18, ISBN 1930051344
By Adam M. Roberts
I became conscious of animal suffering in 1987 when I saw a film depicting livestock cruelty in corporate slaughterhouses. Most of us probably had our own epiphany that led us to work against animal cruelty. For Kim Stallwood, editor-in-chief of the popular The Animals' Agenda magazine, it was from a job in a chicken processing plant 30 years ago: "I could never bring myself to watch the chickens being slaughtered," Stallwood notes, "but I knew then that I hated it taking place." Many others who are not yet enlisted in the struggle for animal protection may find motivation in Stallwood's anthology of inspirational stories from The Animals' Agenda since 1993, Speaking Out For Animals: True Stories about Real People Who Rescue Animals.
Section One, "Voices for Animals," introduces us to some of the more celebrated names in the animal protection movement such as musician Paul McCartney and Body Shop founder, Anita Roddick. Animal activism clearly is not restricted to college campuses or public demonstrations. "A Conversation with Peter Singer" and "Ahimsa with Attitude: an interview with Maneka Gandhi" add substantive philosophical thoughts, while attorney and author Steve Wise reminds us of the need for the judicial system to recognize animals as more than mere property.
Section Two, "Happy Endings," recounts 31 amazing tales of abused or distressed animals who ultimately found peaceful sanctuary. While the plight of Keiko, the orca star of the "Free Willy" movie, is well known, are you familiar with Hope the pig, Ivan the gorilla, Annabelle the hen, Emily the goat, or Sasha the bear? These stories follow animals from the time they were recognized as needing rescue through to their ultimate liberation. They remind us that we shouldn't lose sight of animals' individual faces and feelings when we talk about animal suffering in general. Sure, we consider the anguish of dairy cows for example, but there is also the specific misery of Emily, an individual dairy cow.
Dr. Jane Goodall notes in her Foreword to the book, "The sense of accomplishment and joy that comes from helping even one animal is the reward that encourages further action." In Section Three, "Unsung Heroes," we are reminded that each of us can make a difference for animals: from eight-year-old Amanda Walker-Serrano who protested the cruel treatment of animals in circuses in the face of stern opposition from her local school officials to humane officer Ed Blotzer who founded Animal Care and Welfare SPCA in Pennsylvania in 1970. People can assist animals no matter how wealthy we are, what our chosen profession may be, or how much time and energy we can devote personally to the alleviation of animals' agony.
It's easy to become disheartened in a field where we witness so much torment on a daily basis and where progress comes so slowly. But thanks to Kim's collection of inspiring tales, we can each be reenergized in our effort to help animals.