Stories of Rescue

80957108Lynn: A lot of stray and battered creatures have found their way to my door over the years.  Some stayed just till they were healthy and some moved in for good.  My husband grumbles that there must be some animal equivalent of “soft-touch lives here” marking wherever we have lived.  So while I am a a ready-made audience for today’s books, I doubt that even the most hard-hearted soul could resist being moved by these two touching and informative books.

The first is Rescuing Rover:  Saving America’s Dogs by Raymond Bial (Houghton 2011).  It begins with an appalling story about a puppy found in a dumpster.  Her mouth had been taped shut, then she was put in a pet carrier and thrown into the Dumpster.  No one knows how long the puppy was there before a young couple found her and called for help.  Amazingly the puppy survived and became one of 4 very lucky dogs adopted by the Bial family.  Little Suzie found a loving home but millions of dogs every year aren’t so lucky.  Bial presents young readers with the sobering facts about the 6-8 million unwanted dogs and cats taken in by shelters every year, with 3-4 million eventually being euthanized because homes cannot be found for them.  He examines the roots and causes of the problem and the outstanding organizations working both to help the animals and address the issues as well.  Bial clearly loves his subject and weaves in inspiring success stories of rescued dogs and the dedicated people who work to help them.  He provides a wonderful overview of how to choose and adopt a dog from a shelter, with helpful steps for a successful adoption including an extensive bibliography.  The photographs, many taken by Bial, are really outstanding and do a great job of underlining the focus of the text.  Bial spent an entire day taking pictures at a local shelter and couldn’t get away without adding another animal to their family, this time a Siamese cat who thinks she is a dog.  This is an outstanding book both for reports and for general interest and is an eye-opening call to arms for young readers.

99392201The second book, Saving Audie:  A Pit Bull Puppy Gets a Second Chance by Dorothy Hinshaw Patent (Walker 2011) makes a thought-provoking pairing with Bial’s big-picture focus.  This book steps right out of the headlines and examines the plight of a particular dog and breed of dog.  In 2007, the government raided football star Michael Vick’s Bad Newz Kennels.  They found more than 50 dogs destined for the cruel dog-fighting rings.  Evidence in the trial, the dogs were kept in crates at a crowded animal shelter and because people believed the dogs were dangerous, they were slated to be euthanized after the trial.  Fortunately several animal rights groups stepped in and the court allowed the two groups, BAD RAP and the ASPCA to test all 49 pit bulls to see if they were safe to handle.  9 testers spent four months in intensive testing.  All but one of the dogs was ruled safe.  The story follows one of the puppies, first called Number 86, throughout the ordeal, luckily finding a permanent home with a loving couple who renamed him Audie.  Now trained for agility competition, Audie and his people work  hard to help other dogs.  William Munoz’s wonderful pictures go straight to the heart, opening with a dark shadowy image of a miserable frightened puppy and continue to chronicle Audie’s rescue, training, medial treatment and now happy, busy life.

Patent also writes about the interesting history of the pit bull breed and the organizations that are trying to help the breed and it’s reputation.  A telling Michael Vick Case Timeline adds to the picture and Patent also provides an excellent set of web resources.

nonfiction_mondayCheck out other great books at Geo Librarian for Nonfiction Monday.

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About the Author:

Cindy Dobrez and Lynn Rutan are Booklist reviewers and middle-school librarians who have chaired both ALA’s Best Books for Young Adults and the Michael L. Printz Award for YA Literature committees. Follow Bookends on Twitter at @BookendsBlog. You can also find Cindy at @cdobrez and Lynn at @482april.

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