My wife and I wrote a book that will have plenty of frenemies, but few real friends. Welcome Home is a book that challenges the position promoted by the loudest voices in the animal rights movement that living with dogs and cats, no matter how much we may care for them, violates their rights. We disagree: dogs and cats want to live with us, chose to live with us, should live with us, and where there are challenges, we can rise to overcome them given that — unlike so many others between humans and animals — they are relationships built primarily on mutual love and affection, rather than exploitation.
As we argue in the book,
While there is no denying that, as a society, we can do better by dogs and cats, suggesting that the dogs contentedly sleeping on our sofas and the cats stretched out on our beds don’t belong there and that our love for them is inherently exploitative are positions born of misanthropy, one that is blind to all the benefits human bestow upon dogs and cats, our proven potential for ongoing improvement, and our remarkable capacity for love.
And while rescuers and No Kill advocate would agree, Welcome Home also challenges the view accepted by nearly everyone that it is ethical to feed animals to other animals. It is not.
From the moment they are born to the moment their necks are slit, the vast majority of animals raised and killed for food will experience lives of unremitting torment. They will not know contentment, respite, safety, happiness, or kindness. Instead, they will live a short life characterized by inescapable discomfort, social deprivation, the thwarting of every natural instinct and constant stress, all punctuated by moments of agonizing pain, terror, and the deliberate infliction upon them of harm, cruelty and eventually, a brutal and untimely death.
What makes this an acceptable choice for feeding dogs and cats is complacency fostered by cultural conditioning. If the “food” was made from dogs or cats, instead of chickens or cows, would people argue that vegans were “forcing their lifestyle” onto their dog because they refused to feed them a food made of cats? Arguing that one animal is entitled to have humans commit atrocities against other animals on their behalf is ethically unjustifiable, especially if those needs can be met without abusing and killing others.
Welcome Home continues better than two decades of our promoting the rights of animals by criticizing what we believe are the often regressive, even dangerous views of the animal protection movement itself. And when your intended audience is the same group of people whose views you are criticizing, it should come as little surprise that such a book should be referred to by one reviewer as simply “brave.” Not “a real page turner,” not “right on the money,” not “a heartbreaking work of staggering genius,” not even the polite, but ultimately dismissive, “interesting.” Brave.
The only group of individuals we think would not take issue with our conclusions are those who cannot buy or read it: animals. Otherwise, ‘confirmation bias’ this book does not provide.
FDR once remarked that there was nothing scarier than trying to lead a movement, looking over your shoulder, and seeing no one there. I think history has a different view. Sometimes, you need to plant a stake, even if you are on lonely terrain, and hope that with time and the proper persuasion, you can convince others to join you on what you conclude to be the high ground. That’s what we hope we accomplish with Welcome Home.
In fact, we state at the outset that Welcome Home represents the start of a discussion, not its culmination, and that we don’t pretend to have all the answers. We welcome challenges to our conclusions; conclusions we sometimes admit lead us to ask even more questions which, at this time in history and for a variety of reasons explored in the book, we might not yet be able to answer with accuracy. Nonetheless, we argue that finding those answers requires admitting that such questions should be asked, however uncomfortable or difficult doing so may be.
In the end, Welcome Home challenges us to own up to the moral compromises inherent in current positions rather than sweep them under the rug. Because we want to assure, as best we can, that the road the No Kill movement and the animal rights movement is now paving for future generations of animal activists is the right one.
Right or wrong, agree or disagree, if you want to have that discussion, I’d love to hear your thoughts and especially if you disagree, why you disagree (even vehemently). To quote one of my favorite movies, “you think we’re fighting; I think we’re finally talking.”
Have a comment? Join the discussion by clicking here.