BOOKS: Tools for humane work
From ANIMAL PEOPLE, June 1996:
Many useful and interesting publications don’t come from
major publishers––because their topics are considered “too special –
ized,” or their authors are too obscure to attract commercial atten –
tion. These low-budget, do-it-yourself books could never become
bestsellers, but ANIMAL PEOPLE readers may wear them to tatters
with repeated reference:
Fishing: An Activist’s Guide. Price: “a small donation”
to the Animal Rights Coalition, POB 862, Chanhassen, MN
55317. 20 pages, 1996.
Chicago Animal Rights Coalition cofounder Steve
Hindi––whose similarly named group is not the same as the publisher
of Fishing: An Activist’s Guide––shocked ANIMAL PEOPLE readers
in May with his guest column outlining, as a former fisher, the
inhumanity of fishing. The shock for too many was not that Hindi had
done things he now finds appalling, but that he now finds appalling
things routinely done to fish, that even most people who care about
animals haven’t thought about deeply.
Koi trainer Margaret Heyman Smith and the A N I M A L
PEOPLE editors had earlier, repeatedly, argued against fishing for a
combination of humane and ecological reasons, and Fishing: An
Activist’s Guide includes a 1946 anti-fishing poem by Elizabeth
Bishop. Such expressions, emerging sporadically from humanitarians
for nearly 200 years, have historically drawn either silence or
ridicule––as did the announcement of People for the Ethical Treatment
of Animals, last October, that it would commence a high-profile campaign
against fishing. The campaign thus far seems to consist of only
a few press releases, noticed chiefly by hook-and-bullet media.
All of this may explain why, in the heart of lake country,
the author of Fishing: An Activist’s Guide is anonymous. No matter.
It’s a good outline of what you need to know to write letters-to-theeditor
or place effective calls to talk shows, the awareness-building
precursor phase of building an anti-fishing movement.
Our son Wolf, now five-and-a-half, is eager to help.
“Whales have to eat fish-meat,” he declaimed recently, jumping up
on his chair in a Holiday Inn restaurant, after hearing the people at a
neighboring table order. “People don’t. Fish don’t want to be eaten!”
Forks around the room paused in midair. Wolf made pointed
comments about eating cows, chickens, and pigs, too, but it was the
part about fish that stopped all conversations.
Every word was Wolf’s own idea, and though it wasn’t an
Emily Post performance, I was a proud dad.
Kids, Dogs and Cats: A Guide To Teaching Pet
Care, by June Ayling-Wilson. $12, 267 Ulloa Street, San
Francisco CA 94127. 44 pages, 1992.
Lesson plans tend to bepedestrian stuff, as are these: the
excitement is supposed to take place in the classroom. All you need to
follow June Ayling-Wilson’s lesson plans is an obedient dog who likes
children, a classroom to teach, and the flexibility to take advantage of
the various directions the audience may lead you. The content of her
lessons will be noncontroversial in any school district, and if you’d
rather take a gregarious cat to school as your helper, you won’t have
to change much of the presentation. A 20-year volunteer humane
worker, Ayling-Wilson spent a decade providing hands-on care before
turning to doing humane education for the San Francisco SPCA.
Special Species: An Anthology Written by and for
The Children of San Diego County, volume 2, 1992.
$3.95 (plus unspecified postage and handling), POB 3356, Half
Moon Bay, CA 94019.
Barbara Moran recently sent copies of her second S p e c i a l
Species anthology to national animal protection organizations with a
note soliciting donations of $100 toward the production of the forthcoming
“first national edition,” which will extend participation for the
first time beyond a not-so-small corner of southern California. Begun
as a 1990 Earth Day project, Special Species includes a page from
each participating school about an endangered or threatened animal or
plant from that vicinity. Animals in the 1992 edition included the bald
eagle, black-tailed gnatcatcher, blue whale, California condor,
desert tortoise, gray whale, kangaroo rat, monarch butterfly, mountain
lion, and sea otter, a list evocative of the entire evolution of the
Endangered Species Act. The pages vary in format: some are collectively
written, while others feature articles and drawings by individual
students. Some are encyclopedia. Others are literary. All of them
show intense involvement by the contributors. A national edition
sounds like a good idea. Even better would be local editions, produced
and published by the children of every school, everywhere.
For The Love Of Cats, by Marie Bridgeman. No price
listed; probably available for a donation to the Abide-A-While
Home, 1225 NW 1st, Oklahoma City, OK 73106.
This is the intensely personal story––more a diary, actually––of
the author’s career in cat rescue and anti-cruelty work, in mostly
hostile environs. At age six, Bridgeman recalls, “I set up a rescue
station, around 1927, for every stray cat that ambled into my life.”
Bridgeman lived then in Cushing, Oklahoma, in the heart of the Dust
Bowl. While John Steinbeck was researching and writing The Grapes
of Wrath, Bridgeman battled fleas. After the assassination of a
favorite cat by a mean neighbor, and the death of Bridgeman’s mother
in 1945, she moved to New York City and avoided cats until 1960,
when a kitten dissuaded her from entering a convent. Bridgeman
eventually returned to Oklahoma, where she incorporated the AbideA-While
Home and commenced anti-trapping work in 1974.