Where I Got It: Own it
Narrator: Mel Foster
Publisher: Tantor Media (2010)
Length: 11 hours 54 minutes
So much food for thought on this one! The author leads us on an exploration of the animal-human relationship, pushing the reader to think about several choices they have made. There’s plenty of morality questions here where the author does a good job of letting the reader come to their own conclusions without forcing his opinions on them.
I’ll touch on a few of the subjects that really stood out for me. Captive dolphins for human entertainment or supposed health treatments: humane or not? It’s becoming more and more common to frown upon captive animals for entertainment, and yet more and more common to keep them around for health treatments. Who doesn’t want to go swimming with the dolphins? But at what cost? I have read about a few places were the dolphins are not netted in but come freely for the fish and tourists are entertained in the process. Is that the reasonable middle ground?
Next was the discussion on mice bred for scientific and medical research. These mice never live wild, free lives and have been used for generations for scientific research. Once they have fulfilled their use, they are euthanized. How much is a mouse’s life worth? The author does a great job of getting into the numbers. If 100,000 mice could be the key to curing a specific type of cancer, would that be acceptable? Many of the same questions are raised for other species, such as apes and monkeys. Also, how does euthanizing so many animals weigh upon the researcher?
Some of the sections were a bit tougher as they touch a little closer to home. Food chickens versus cock fighting: the food chickens live in tightly enclosed spaces, sometimes never seeing the light of day. Meanwhile the fighting cocks get gourmet meals, have well-tended yards, and several hens for companionship. A lifetime of bad days versus a life of good days with one bad day at the end.
Vegetarianism – includes fish or not? This is an interesting question I find that my vegetarian/vegan friends answer a little differently from person to person. Other such questions come up for discussion. Some areas of the world, dogs are on the menu and they are kept in deplorable conditions prior to slaughter, much like American chicken slaughterhouses. The torturing of small animals as kids is perhaps more common than expected and may be a way for kids to learn to empathize with others. Why is feeding frozen baby mice to snakes acceptable but not euthanized kittens? As you can see, tons of questions are brought up.
I found this book fascinating and a touch disturbing. It made me question several of my own established ideas of human-animal relationships. I had to do this book in several small chunks because I often set it down to think about it. Over all, it was a very worthy read.
Narration: Mel Foster did a good job, never stumbling over scientific phrases and yet was congenial, not like a computer voice. He was a great fit for this book that tackled some tough subjects.
What I Liked: The book cover art; good narration; very thought provoking; the author steers clear of judgement; hard numbers are put into some of the discussions, showing the real-world scenario.
What I Disliked: Nothing – it’s a keeper worthy of a reread in a few years.
What Others Think: