Debut author Ray tells the story of what she calls one of the largest dog rescues in American history, when animal lovers in Montana united to save more than 100ill-treated canines from a vagrant breeder.
The author was living in Butte, Montana, in the fall of 2008, when a school bus driven by a drifter broke down within the city limits. A local custodian sounded an alarm over its contents: more than 100 large dogs, mostly white German shepherds and huskies. They were crammed in and living in filthy conditions, as part of the driver’s misguided scheme to use them as Iditarod sled-pullers in Alaska. After the man was arrested by police for animal cruelty, city animal control officers seemed unable to solve the dog problem, so concerned residents created “Camp Husky,” a grass-roots emergency service for caring for the diseased, frightened canines. Many of the female dogs were pregnant, so the team soon had some 200 dogs to place with new owners. Ray pays tribute to the volunteers behind Camp Husky and also takes whacks at the bureaucrats of the city’s Animal Services, portraying them as people who simply didn’t want to do their jobs and who had a number of the dogs summarily killed, claiming inaccurately that they were wolf or coyote hybrids. The bulk of the book is sentimental in tone, providing an anthology of tales of particular, adopted dogs, their rehabilitations from trauma and sicknesses, and the affections they ultimately had for their new owners (although, sometimes, initial adoptions didn’t work out). This anecdotal material, however, tends to overshadow the book’s theme of how DIY action worked when government action didn’t. Also, Ray doesn’t strongly weigh in on the controversy regarding the use of pet-breeding enterprises when shelters are overfilled with animals. Her closing chapter, though, effectively widens the scope of the book to argue for improved animal welfare and humanitarianism across the spectrum—and few will argue with that.
An emotional ride for pet lovers that provides some valuable instruction on citizen action and kindness.