Book review: 'The Bond' reveals fight to prevent animal cruelty

By Becky Robinette Wright

For the Deseret News

Published: Saturday, April 23 2011 2:14 p.m. MDT

"THE BOND: Our Kinship with Animals, Our Call to Defend Them," by Wayne Pacelle, William Murrow, 400 pages, $26.99 (nf)

The Humane Society of the United States is not a sit-on-the-shelf organization. With 11 million members, the activist group works to be a voice for animals and an instrument of change.

As chief executive of the Humane Society, Wayne Pacelle is a doer. He has helped pass more than 25 statewide ballot initiatives outlawing inhumane practices such as cockfighting, factory farming and bear baiting. Pacelle and the national organization are also credited with passing 1,000 state laws and 25 federal statutes for animal protection.

Pacelle’s “The Bond: Our Kinship with Animals, Our Call to Defend Them” documents events of cruelty and reviews battles to elicit change in a society where animals are sometimes seen as products.

Pacelle interviews former Atlanta Falcons quarterback Michael Vick, recently in the spotlight for his role in dog fights. Vick relates that while growing up he and neighborhood children organized dog fights. His fascination with the blood sport would continue until illegal dog-fighting investigations resulted in a felony indictment and his prison term.

Vick’s journey through the court system and his punishment are addressed but also the mindset of the sports star is reviewed, along with relating Vick’s involvement with the the Humane Society to educate both the general public and youth to prevent dog fighting.

Intriguingly, Pacelle doesn’t debate Vick’s innocence or guilt but tackles what could be the causes and effects of dog fighting on a new generation. Readers will want to cheer as they learn of laws being upgrading in severity and penalties becoming more enforceable.

The national leader recounts the brutality of a California slaughterhouse caught on film. The Hallmark Meat Packing Company story was reported on national TV, a feat Pacelle considers remarkable. After the largest beef recall in U.S. history, the meatpacking plant was closed and the coverage alerted of the possibility of contaminated meat from similar slaughterhouses.

Indepth investigations, often requiring nerves of steel, are explained, along with how these investigators’ personal emotions are held in check to produce the necessary evidence for criminal prosecutions. Pacelle walks the reader through the agonizing journey of those who stand as witnesses.

“The Bond” is a life-changing read. The book contains moments of horror as seemingly unbearable cruel practices are revealed in the meat industry, the animal-entertainment and sports worlds, and sometimes at the hands of ordinary people. Not ramblings of a few people, “The Bond” contains documentation.

Celebrating those who champion the fight against animal cruelty, "The Bond" touches on a delicate subject, stirs the heart and fuels emotions. The book also shows the hope for change when knowledge is shared and mankind stands together.

Becky Robinette Wright is a freelance writer and photographer who lives in Virginia.

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