Rhode Island SPCA

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Humane Reading Resources for Older Readers

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The Emotional Lives of Animals by Marc Bekoff (Author), Jane Goodall (Foreword), 2008 – New World Library

Based on award-winning scientist Marc Bekoff’s years studying social communication in a wide range of species, this important book shows that animals have rich emotional lives. Bekoff skillfully blends extraordinary stories of animal joy, empathy, grief, embarrassment, anger, and love with the latest scientific research confirming the existence of emotions that common sense and experience have long implied. Filled with Bekoff’s light humor and touching stories, The Emotional Lives of Animals is a clarion call for reassessing both how we view animals and how we treat them.

The Soul of All Living Creatures: What Animals Can Teach Us About Being Human by Vint Virga, DVM, 2013 – Random House

As an emergency room clinician four years out of veterinary school, Dr. Vint Virga had a life-changing experience: he witnessed the power of simple human contact and compassion to affect the recovery of a dog struggling to survive after being hit by a car.  Observing firsthand the remarkably strong connection between humans and animals inspired him to explore the world from the viewpoint of animals and taught him to respect the kinship that connects us. With The Soul of All Living Creatures, Virga draws from his decades in veterinary practice to reveal how, by striving to perceive the world as animals do, we can enrich our own appreciation of life, enhance our character, nurture our relationships, improve our communication with others, reorder our values, and deepen our grasp of spirituality. Virga discerningly illuminates basic traits shared by both humans and animals and makes animal behavior meaningful, relevant, and easy to understand.  Insightful and eloquent, The Soul of All Living Creatures offers an intimate journey into the lives of our fellow creatures and a thought-provoking promise of what we can learn from spending time with them.

Animals Make Us Human: Creating the Best Life for Animals by Temple Grandin and Catherine Johnson (Authors), 2010 – Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

In her groundbreaking, best-selling book Animals in Translation, Temple Grandin drew on her own experience with autism as well as her experience as an animal scientist to deliver extraordinary insights into how animals think, act, and feel. Now she builds on those insights to show us how to give our animals the best and happiest life– on their terms, not ours. Knowing what causes animals physical pain is usually easy, but pinpointing emotional distress is much harder. Drawing on the latest research and her own work, Grandin identifies the core emotional needs of animals and then explains how to fulfill the specific needs of dogs and cats, horses, farm animals, zoo animals, and even wildlife. Whether it’s how to make the healthiest environment for the dog you must leave alone most of the day, how to keep pigs from being bored, or how to know if the lion pacing in the zoo is miserable or just exercising, Grandin teaches us to challenge our assumptions about animal contentment and honor our bond with our fellow creatures.
Animals Make Us Human is the culmination of almost thirty years of research, experimentation, and experience. This is essential reading for anyone who’s ever owned, cared for, or simply cared about an animal.

The Bond: Our Kinship with Animals, Our Call to Defend Them by Wayne Pacelle, 2011 – HarperCollins Publishers

In countless fascinating ways, our relationship with animals is an essential part of the human experience. Now, one of the world’s leading champions of animal welfare offers a dramatic examination of our age-old bond to all creatures. Wayne Pacelle explores the many ways animals contribute to our happiness and well-being, and he reveals scientists’ newfound understanding of their remarkable emotional and cognitive capacities. Pacelle also takes on animal cruelty in its many varieties, as well as stubborn opponents of animal protection—from multinational agribusiness corporations to the National Rifle Association and even our own government. An instant classic, The Bond reminds us that animals are at the center of our lives, not just a backdrop, and how we treat them is one of the great themes of the human story. A beautiful, brilliant and altogether essential book.

Dominion: The Power of Man, the Suffering of Animals, and the Call to Mercy by Matthew Scully, 2003 – St. Martin’s Press

In Dominion, we witness the annual convention of Safari Club International, an organization whose wealthier members will pay up to $20,000 to hunt an elephant, a lion or another animal, either abroad or in American “safari ranches,” where the animals are fenced in pens. We attend the annual International Whaling Commission conference, where the skewed politics of the whaling industry come to light, and the focus is on developing more lethal, but not more merciful, methods of harvesting “living marine resources.” And we visit a gargantuan American “factory farm,” where animals are treated as mere product and raised in conditions of mass confinement, bred for passivity and bulk, inseminated and fed with machines, kept in tightly confined stalls for the entirety of their lives, and slaughtered in a way that maximizes profits and minimizes decency. Throughout Dominion, Scully counters the hypocritical arguments that attempt to excuse animal abuse: from those who argue that the Bible’s message permits mankind to use animals as it pleases, to the hunter’s argument that through hunting animal populations are controlled, to the popular and “scientifically proven” notions that animals cannot feel pain, experience no emotions, and are not conscious of their own lives. The result is eye opening, painful and infuriating, insightful and rewarding. Dominion is a plea for human benevolence and mercy, a scathing attack on those who would dismiss animal activists as mere sentimentalists, and a demand for reform from the government down to the individual. Matthew Scully has created a groundbreaking work, a book of lasting power and importance for all of us.

When Elephants Weep by Jeffrey Moussaief Masson, 2009 – Delta (Random House)

Not since Darwin’s The Expression of Emotions in Man and Animals has a book so thoroughly and effectively explored the full range of emotions that exist throughout the animal kingdom. From dancing squirrels to bashful gorillas to spiteful killer whales, Masson and coauthor Susan McCarthy bring forth fascinating anecdotes and illuminating insights that offer powerful proof of the existence of animal emotion. Chapters on love, joy, anger, fear, shame, compassion, and loneliness are framed by a provocative re-evaluation of how we treat animals, from hunting and eating them to scientific experimentation. Forming a complete and compelling picture of the inner lives of animals, When Elephants Weep assures that we will never look at animals in the same way again

Humane Education

Animals in Society: Facts and Perspectives on our Treatment of Animals by Zoe Weil, 1991 – Animalearn

So You Love Animals: An Action-Packed, Fun-Filled Book to Help Kids Help Animals by Zoe Weil, 1994 – Animalearn

Earthkind: A Teachers’ Handbook on Humane Education by David Selby, 1995 – Trentham Books

Teaching Virtues: Building Character Across the Curriculum by Don Trent Jacobs and Jessica Jacobs-Spencer, 2001 – Scarecrow Press

Above All, Be Kind: Raising a Child in Challenging Times by Zoe Weil, 2003 – New Society Publishers

Teaches parents how to raise their children to be humane in the broadest sense—to become not only more compassionate in their interactions with family and friends, but to grow up to make life choices that demonstrate respect for the environment, other species, and all people. The book includes chapters for early, middle, teenage, and young adult years, as well as activities, issue sidebars, cases, tips, and profiles.

The Power and Promise of Humane Education by Zoe Weil, 2004 – New Society Publishers

Critical world problems call for education that addresses the values and behaviors that perpetuate suffering, oppression, and destruction. Humane education does this, offering young people deeply meaningful education about the issues of our time, teaching them to be critical and creative thinkers, inspiring their reverence and respect, and empowering them to be conscientious decision-makers. This book offers teachers clear suggestions for implementing humane education in both classrooms and non-traditional educational settings. Inviting and easy to use, it describes the four elements of humane education, along with stories, examples, case studies, activities and resources.

Dogs, Rescue and Other Good Stuff

This may end up being a reading list of its own, because there are just so many heartwarming books out there. Here’s one…Okay, maybe five…

A Small Furry Prayer by Steven Kotler, 2010 – Bloomsbury

Steven Kotler was forty years old, single, and facing an existential crisis when he met Lila, a woman devoted to animal rescue. “Love me, love my dogs” was her rule, and Steven took it to heart. Spurred to move by a housing crisis in Los Angeles, Steven, Lila, and their eight dogs-then ten, then twenty, and then they lost count-bought a postage-stamp-size farm in Chimayo, New Mexico.A Small Furry Prayer chronicles their adventures at Rancho de Chihuahua, the sanctuary they created for their special needs pack. While dog rescue is one of the largest underground movements in America, it is also one of the least understood. An insider look at the “cult and culture” of dog rescue, A Small Furry Prayer weaves personal experience, cultural investigation, and scientific inquiry into a fast-paced, fun-filled narrative that explores what it means to devote one’s life to the furry and the four-legged. Along the way, Kotler combs through every aspect of canine-human relations, from humans’ long history with dogs through brand-new research into the neuroscience of canine companionship, in the end discovering why living in a world made of dog may be the best way to uncover the truth about what it really means to be human.

A Dog’s Purpose by W. Bruce Cameron, 2010 – Forge Books

This is the remarkable story of one endearing dog’s search for his purpose over the course of several lives. More than just another charming dog story, A Dog’s Purpose touches on the universal quest for an answer to life’s most basic question: Why are we here? Surprised to find himself reborn as a rambunctious golden-haired puppy after a tragically short life as a stray mutt, Bailey’s search for his new life’s meaning leads him into the loving arms of 8-year-old Ethan. During their countless adventures Bailey joyously discovers how to be a good dog. But this life as a beloved family pet is not the end of Bailey’s journey. Reborn as a puppy yet again, Bailey wonders—will he ever find his purpose? Heartwarming, insightful, and often laugh-out-loud funny, A Dog’s Purpose is not only the emotional and hilarious story of a dog’s many lives, but also a dog’s-eye commentary on human relationships and the unbreakable bonds between man and man’s best friend. This moving and beautifully crafted story teaches us that love never dies, that our true friends are always with us, and that every creature on earth is born with a purpose.

Bones Would Rain From the Sky: Deepening Our Relationships with Dogs Suzanne Clothier, 2002 – Grand Central Publishing

This extraordinary book takes a radical new direction in understanding our life with canines and offers us astonishing new lessons about our pets. From changing the misbehaviors and habits that upset us, to seeing the world from their unique and natural perspective, to finding a deep connection with another being, Bones Would Rain From the Sky will help you receive an incomparable gift: a profound, lifelong relationship with the dog you love.

The Art of Racing in the Rain by Garth Stein, 2009 – Harper Collins

Enzo knows he is different from other dogs: a philosopher with a nearly human soul (and an obsession with opposable thumbs), he has educated himself by watching television extensively, and by listening very closely to the words of his master. On the eve of his death, Enzo takes stock of his life, recalling all that he and his family have been through. In the end, despite what he sees as his own limitations, Enzo comes through heroically to preserve his human family. Having learned what it takes to be a compassionate and successful person, the wise canine can barely wait until his next lifetime, when he is sure he will return as a man. A heart-wrenching but deeply funny and ultimately uplifting story of family, love, loyalty, and hope, The Art of Racing in the Rain is a beautifully crafted and captivating look at the wonders and absurdities of human life . . . as only a dog could tell it.

Out of Harm’s Way by Terry Crisp, 1997 – Gallery Books

Terri Crisp will carry one through every emotion imaginable as she tells of her many courageous rescues of animals during both nature and man-made disasters. There are numerous inspiring stories, but the most heartbreaking and disturbing are the ones which tell of owners leaving their pets behind – treating their pets as disposable items. Ms. Crisp explains the tragic consequences of not being prepared for a disaster throughout the entire book. She also includes invaluable pet disaster kits and other information in order to prepare for a disaster.

Marley & Me: Life with the World’s Worst Dog by John Grogan, 2009 – Harper Collins

A hilarious and ultimately poignant account of the author’s experiences with his dog Marley, possibly one of the most neurotic dogs ever. The level of destruction was matched only by the depth of love.

Animal Cruelty in Food Production

Righteous Porkchop: Finding a Life and Good Food Beyond Factory Farms by Nicolette Hahn Niman, 2009 – Collins Living

Niman faithfully describes the artificial, often terribly cramped containment pens or cages that crowd thousands of pigs, cattle, or laying hens together. Often the anim.als never see the outdoors, never breathe anything but the stink of their own waste, never get to raise their own offspring, and never even get a meal that isn’t laced heavily with harmful drugs and blood and excrement from other animals. And sometimes they die barbarically. Raising stock this way is excused by agribusiness as necessary to maximize economies of scale and profits. But the author systematically shoots down these flimsy justifications. Niman presents a well-researched case for the pressing need to change the way our meat supply is managed from insemination to slaughter. She emphasizes that a failure to do so will endanger the future survival of these animals and the whole food chain including us. But she is realistic too and suggests that the best action each individual can take is to stop buying from these meat/poultry/dairy/fish producers. Perhaps her most practical chapter is “Finding the Right Foods,” in which she gives specific advice and information about how to find healthful pork, beef, milk, cheese, fish, etc. from farms that treat their animals well.

Farm Sanctuary: Changing Hearts and Minds About Animals and Food By Gene Bauer, 2008 – Touchstone (Simon & Schuster)

In 1986, after rescuing a live sheep from a pile of dead animals in a stockyard, the author founded Farm Sanctuary, an organization that rescues discarded living animals from stockyards, slaughterhouses and factory farms; provides shelters for them; and advocates for humane animal treatment. In this impassioned book, Baur paints an appealing picture of these shelters and the animals that live there far from the brutality of industrial farming, which he describes in detail. Some of this inhumane treatment is not news—chickens packed into tiny cages—but accounts of living animals discarded like garbage because they are ill or weak surprise. Baur’s nonprofit promotes legal remedies to stop the inhumane conditions chronicled. He believes that the best way to demonstrate concern for industrially farmed animals is to adopt a vegan lifestyle, but doesn’t proselytize. Rather, he makes a strong case that meat eaters have an ethical responsibility to ensure that the animals they eat have not been abused. His well-argued book includes helpful lists of resources and organizations that deal with factory farming, animal welfare rights, humane food production and the environment.

The Pig who Sang to the Moon: The Emotional World of Farm Animals By Jeffrey Moussaieff Masson, 2003 – Ballantine Books

Jeffrey Moussaieff Masson’s groundbreaking bestseller, When Elephants Weep, was the first book since Darwin’s time to explore emotions in the animal kingdom, particularly from animals in the wild. Now, he focuses exclusively on the contained world of the farm animal, revealing startling, irrefutable evidence that barnyard creatures have feelings too, even consciousness. Weaving history, literature, anecdotes, scientific studies, and Masson’s own vivid experiences observing pigs, cows, sheep, goats, and chickens over the course of five years, this important book at last gives voice, meaning, and dignity to these gentle beasts that are bred to be milked, shorn, butchered, and eaten. Can we ever know what makes an animal happy? Many animal behaviorists say no. But Jeffrey Masson has a different view: An animal is happy if it can live according to its own nature. Farm animals suffer greatly in this regard. Chickens, for instance, like to perch in trees at night, to avoid predators and to nestle with friends. The obvious conclusion: They cannot be happy when confined twenty to a cage. From field and barn, to pen and coop, Masson bears witness to the emotions and intelligence of these remarkable farm animals, each unique with distinct qualities. Curious, intelligent, self-reliant–many will find it hard to believe that these attributes describe a pig. In fact, there is much that humans share with pigs. They dream, know their names, and can see colors. Mother cows mourn the loss of their calves when their babies are taken away to slaughter. Given a choice between food that is nutritious or lacking in minerals, sheep will select the former, balancing their diet and correcting the deficiency. Goats display quite a sense of humor, dignity, and fearlessness (Indian goats have been known to kill leopards). Chickens are naturally sociable–they will gather around a human companion and stand there serenely preening themselves or sit quietly on the ground beside someone they trust. For far too long farm animals have been denigrated and treated merely as creatures of instinct rather than as sentient beings. Shattering the abhorrent myth of the “dumb animal without feelings,” Jeffrey Masson has written a revolutionary book that is sure to stir human emotions far and wide.

The Lucky Ones: My Passionate Fight for Farm Animals By Jenny Brown, 2012 – Avery (Penguin)

The Lucky Ones introduces readers to Woodstock Farm Animal Sanctuary which Brown established with her husband in 2004. With a cast of unforgettable survivors, including a fugitive slaughterhouse cow named Kayli; Albie, the three-legged goat; and Quincy, an Easter duckling found abandoned in New York City, The Lucky Ones reveals shocking statistics about the prevalence of animal abuse throughout America’s agribusinesses.  Blending wry humor with unflinching honesty, Brown brings a compelling new voice to the healthy-living movement—and to the vulnerable, voiceless creatures among us.

No Happy Cows: Dispatches from the Frontlines of the Food Revolution by John Robbins, 2012 – Conari Press

Robbins shares his dispatches from the frontlines of the food revolution: From his undercover investigations of feed lots and slaughterhouses, to the rise of food contamination, the slave trade behind chocolate and coffee, what he calls the sham of “Vitamin Water,” and the effects of hormones on animals and animal products. Topics include: The skinny on grass-fed beef, Greed and salmonella, Junk food marketing to kids, Soy and Alzheimer’s, Hormones in our milk plus many more. Robbin’s trenchant and provocative observations into the relationships between animals and the humans who raise them remind us of the importance of working for a more compassionate and environmentally responsible world.

Illegal Wildlife Trade

Black Market: Inside the Endangered Species Trade in Asia by Ben Davies (Author), Patrick Brown (Photographer), Jane Goodall (Foreword), 2005 – Earth Aware Editions

With more than 100 powerful color and b&w photos, this at once eye-opening and deeply disturbing book is an urgent call to action. Davies, a Bangkok-based journalist, describes the plight of various disappearing Asian species, including tigers, bears and leopards in Thailand; pythons and other snakes in Vietnam; and Sumatran orangutans. Davies points to traditional beliefs in the healing powers of animal parts as a major driving force of the market, and takes the reader through several poaching scenarios to illuminate how the animal trade actually works. Some of the photos in the book are not for the faint-of-heart (severed tiger heads, bear paws, pickled snakes, etc.), but the book sheds light on a shadowy, often illegal set of practices.

Endangered Species

The Atlas of Endangered Species by Richard MacKay, 2008 – University of California Press

With twenty percent of the earth’s species facing extinction by 2030, this striking atlas brings up to date the data on those that have been lost already, those that are threatened, and those that are surviving today. Vividly illustrated with full-color maps and detailed graphics, this book catalogs the inhabitants of a wide variety of ecosystems, including forests, mangroves, and coral reefs. It examines the major threats to biodiversity, from loss of habitat to hunting, and describes the steps being taken toward conservation. More than 40 topics, among them “Human Environmental Impact,” “Temperate Forests,” “Dolphins and Whales,” and “Conserving Domestic Breeds,” are presented on double-page spreads containing full-color maps, charts, graphs, small photographs, and text.

Endangered: Wildlife on the Brink of Extinction by George Gavin and David Burnie (Authors/Editors), 2006 – Firefly Books

Earth has seen at least five great extinction periods, each wiping out up to 95 percent of all living species. They involved massive volcanic eruptions, disastrous meteor strikes and rapid climatic changes. The main point of Endangered is that the sixth great extinction will be the result of humankind’s abuse of the environment. Featuring more than 400 photographs, this book details the plant and animal species that are either endangered or so severely threatened that they soon will be. The authors offer a thoughtful celebration of nature’s diversity not scaremongering — and a plea to rein in current behaviors that negatively affect the planet.

Last Chance to See by Douglas Adams and Mike Cawardine, 1992 – Ballantine Books

Although written like a travelogue, this was alternately funny and immensely poignant. Adams tells an entertaining story that brings each character to vivid life for a reader. The fact that his characters this time ’round are not space aliens and a beleaguered human being, but rather the most endangered of the endangered animals on the planet makes no difference. The lessons to be learned in this book are most profoundly related in Cawardine’s parable at the end: by losing these animals and others like them, we are losing integral parts of the universe, important pieces to the puzzle of life. Once they are lost, there is no regaining them, and the world can never the same. Eminently worth reading and I would recommend this book in a heartbeat to any highschooler (or adult) interested in Endangered Species.

Listed: Dispatches from America’s Endangered Species Act by Joe Roman, 2011- Harvard University Press

The Endangered Species Act was passed in 1973, and since then a lot has changed. Joe Roman helps us understand why we should all be happy that this sweeping law is alive and well today. More than a general history of endangered species protection, Listed is a tale of threatened species in the wild—from the whooping crane and North Atlantic right whale to the purple bankclimber, a freshwater mussel tangled up in a water war with Atlanta—and the people working to save them. Employing methods from the new field of ecological economics, Roman challenges the widely held belief that protecting biodiversity is too costly. And with engaging directness, he explains how preserving biodiversity can help economies and communities thrive. Above all, he shows why the extinction of species matters to us personally—to our health and safety, our prosperity, and our joy in nature.

100 Heartbeats: The Race to Save Earth’s Most Endangered Species by Jeff Corwin, 2010 – Rodale Books

Jeff Corwin provides an urgent portrait of the wildlife teetering on the brink. From the forests slipping away beneath the stealthy paws of the Florida panther, to the giant panda’s plight to climb ever higher in the mountains of China, Corwin takes you on a global tour to witness firsthand the critical state of our natural world. Along the way, he shares inspiring stories of battles being waged and won by the conservationists on the front lines of defense. The race to save the planet’s most endangered wildlife is under way. Every heartbeat matters.

Rare: Portraits of America’s Endangered Species by Joel Sartore, 2010 – Focal Point

When a few of these photographs first appeared in the National Geographic magazine January 2009 issue, they were hailed as an arresting reminder of the hundreds of species teetering on the brink of final extinction—more than 1,200 animals and plants in all. Now, in Rare, Joel Sartore and National Geographic present 80 iconic images, representing a lifelong commitment to the natural world and a three-year investigation into the Endangered Species Act and the creatures it exists to protect. This book will give readers not only a broader understanding of the history and purpose of the Endangered Species Act, but also an intimate look at the very species it seeks to preserve. With stunning up-close portraits on every page, this important volume evokes sympathetic wonder at the vast and amazing array of plants and animals still in need of protection. Itself a creation of particular beauty, Rare offers eloquent proof that a picture really is worth a thousand words as it shows us, one after another, scores of uniquely remarkable and seriously threatened life-forms. It is a compelling story and a many-faceted, brilliant jewel of a book.