In this debut memoir, Pacelle describes the activities of the Humane Society of the United States, under his direction, and presents the compelling case that by challenging cruelty to animals we are defending our own humanity.
Reviewing the complexity of the human-animal bond, the author attacks convenient moral blindness—the fact that we cherish our pets but turn a blind eye to the systematic abuse of the animals we eat. By refusing “to believe that animals have intelligence, or even conscious life,” despite evidence to the contrary, we are allowing “economic interests to do as they please.” Under his direction, HSUS joined other animal-protection groups to campaign for Proposition 2, a 2008 successful California ballot initiative “to ban the extreme confinement of twenty million animals on concentrated animal feeding operations.” Adopting what he describes as a relatively new strategy, HSUS employed an undercover investigator to penetrate the operations of Hallmark, a plant where worn-out three-year-old dairy cows were slaughtered for meat. He filmed an instance of a “downer” cow too weak to stand that was chained to a tractor and dragged over rough terrain, and others of cows given electric shots on their genitals or eyes to force them on their feet, and then provided the footage to the media. This turned a national spotlight on the agribusinesses processes and gained international attention concerning the sale of possibly contaminated American beef. Another successful campaign, undertaken after the ravages of Hurricane Katrina, resulted in congressional legislation to include pets in FEMA disaster planning.
Pacelle is an activist and an optimist who believes that change will come and that, as with every great cause, “it begins with each one of us.”