From Publishers Weekly
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)
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As the authors state, the treatment of animals in modern America is full of contradictions. Although we lavish time, money, and love on our pets, we allow the animals raised for our consumption (either as food, product testers, or medical experiment subjects) to languish in sometimes appalling conditions. The authors' goal is to demystify these realities and show how the animal industries maximize profits and cut costs in ways that cause human and animal misery. In prose that deliberately avoids complicated ethical and philosophical reasoning but instead states the case for humane treatment of animals in basic language, the authors examine the meat industry, hunting, the textile industry, animal experimentation, the pet industry, and animals in entertainment. The heavily endnoted text explains the issues; quotes from both sides of the argument (though leaning heavily on the animal-welfare side); provides examples of abuse and exploitation; discusses the effects, both physical and mental, on both animals and humans; and concludes with summations of what has been and what can be done to alleviate animal suffering. A well-organized presentation of the animal-welfare argument. Bent, Nancy Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved