Monday, May 12, 2014

Nonfiction Monday: No Shelter Here: Making the world a kinder place for dogs by Rob Laidlaw

I've reviewed some of Laidlaw's titles (On Parade)before and while I always find them interesting, there are certain aspects that make me reluctant to purchase them for the library. Oh, and I can't explain the cover - it looks nothing like the cover of the actual book I read, but I can't find that cover picture anywhere (I think I read an earlier edition?)

So, the book intersperses factual information about dogs, what they need for a happy healthy life, with facts and anecdotes about ill-treatment and spotlights on "Dog Champions" mostly kids who are helping dogs in various ways. There are sections on puppy mills, inhuman practices that have been banned in some states like unnecessary devocalization surgery or chaining dogs for long periods of time. There is a glossary and list of websites but no other resources.

My two main reservations about this book are first, the lack of sources and how unclear it is when the author is simply citing his own experience and opinions and when he's making a factual statement. Sometimes he uses a personal pronoun, but sometimes he just makes pronouncements. For example, in the section on how bad it is for dogs to be chained for long periods of time, he quotes a vet and dog expert, but also gives his own opinion. In one of the sidebars later on, in the chapter on homeless/shelter dogs, he talks about how "Being confined in a crate is boring, frustrating, and lonely, and in many ways it's worse than being chained outside. If someone thinks a dog has to be crated a lot, they need to become better dog guardians or find their dog a new home." There's no sources quoted for this statement or even how much is "a lot".

My second reservation is in the stories of some of the dog champions, specifically the international ones. His own story, of going to an area devastated by an earthquake and offering  free veterinary care is inspiring. Some of the others are more troubling. Almost all of them are people, usually teens or young adults, that visited another country and were upset by how dogs were treated. They set up international groups to help dogs. Some of them mention educational efforts for the locals, but not all. That just...rubs me wrong. It's like, you've got these wealthy kids and their families (and if you can afford to travel internationally, that's a certain level of wealth) coming in to countries with no knowledge of their culture or economic issues and then they're all "omg, how can you treat animals like this!" Of course, there could be a lot more background information than is given here as this is just a brief overview, but I would have preferred to have seen only local activists featured, or those working in their own countries.

Verdict: There's a lot of good information here and kids would probably really enjoy it and maybe even get involved in their own communities, but I also think the majority of kids aren't going to be able to read this critically and think about all the aspects of the different situations and which pronouncements are the author's personal opinions and which are backed up by some kind of sources. An interesting read, but it's not a good fit for my collection development right now.

ISBN: 9780986949555; Published 2012 by Pajama Press; Borrowed from another library in my consortium

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