The Humane Economy: The Dollars and Sense of Solving Animal Cruelty by Wayne Pacelle
I did not like reading this book. By that, I don't mean thatTHE HUMANE ECONOMY is badly written or uninteresting, or anything like that. It's just that the subject matter is so tragical that it's really rough reading. For those of you who are really kind-hearted souls, I bet you will also have trouble reading this book.
Nevertheless, I'm glad that I did read this book. I'm not too proud to admit I was ignorant of many practices revealed in this book. I learned a lot that I needed to know, and I also learned some practical ways to make a difference.
THE HUMANE ECONOMY is not designed to just make you feel guilty, and then set you loose. Rather, the theme presented here is that it's possible to DO lots of constructive things to end animal abuse. Mr Pacelle documents cases that have changed for the better, with lots of hard work (and sometimes pressure applied to the right people.)
One of the first chapters is a case study on PetSmart and Petco. The author shows how these corporations decided to stop supporting the puppy mill business, and instead, use their stores as animal adoption locations. (I have personally visited these adoption days at both these stores.)
When money is involved, the author explains, it will likely be very difficult to convince a corporation to give up products in the name of animal welfare. But it can be done, as Mr. Pacelle documents. In the chapter, "A Capitalist Revolution Frees the Pigs, we see how McDonald's corporation was pressured by none other than Carl Ichan. Ultimately, after much cajoling, they agreed to not buy pork originating from breeding cages called "gestation stalls." I confess I had never heard of this form of animal abuse before, and I'm delighted that McDonald's agreed to stop supporting the practice.
The author explains the key difficulty in getting traction on animal abuse cases. It's simply that most people are distant from the actual animal abuse. Most folks have no idea where the chicken meat came from, or how puppy mills operate. So, people might unwittingly buy a product associated with animal abuse, but they don't actually see the abuse themselves. "Perhaps you may know in the back of your mind that there is more than a strong residue of cruelty in such products, but almost never focus on the painful details. You become an unwitting or passive commercial partner in these enterprises..."
"One challenging problem for us, in modern society, is that we can be so disassociated from the reality of exploitation, removing the urgency and even the moral influence or relevance of an issue." Few people would agree to set a horrible trap for an animal, but behind closed doors, we use "proxies" who do the dirty deed. But we can easily turn away--it's remote from us.
Towards the end of the book the author exhorts us to be creative, find ways to be humane: "Once awakened and informed about animals, there's nothing to stop us from demonstrating our particular creative genius to find more humane ways to do business."
So all-in-all, I cannot honestly say I enjoyed reading THE HUMANE ECONOMY. Actually, I did not enjoy reading this book. However, I'm glad I did. It opened my eyes to certain practices that I wish to see stopped. The author does a good job of documenting the problem and giving us some specific ways to help solve it.
Advance reading copy courtesy of Edelweiss book distributors