Jen Hirt's Reviews > Animals Make Us Human: Creating the Best Life for Animals

Animals Make Us Human by Catherine  Johnson
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Jun 25, 2011

really liked it
Read in June, 2011

This efficiently organized book covers dogs, cats, horses, cows, pigs, chickens, wildlife, and zoo animals. Each critter gets their own chapter, and Grandin explains what each animals needs for a content life. She focuses mostly on the animals' inherent levels of fear, need for safety, and type of socialization needed. The book is well-researched and practical (there are things you can start doing with your animals right away, to improve their lives). Grandin's unique perspective and voice come through as well, even though it was co-written. For example, when a cat arches its back and hisses, she calls it Halloween kitty rather than resorting to a clinical term. It's a reminder of how much she thinks in images.

The chapters on farm animals get somewhat political and impatient as Grandin relates story after story of large-scale animal abuse in the meat industry, followed, amazingly, by stories of farms and slaughterhouse who adopt her techniques only to abandon them within a few months. Grandin is mystified by this trend but ultimately chalks it up to finances. It takes time and money to train workers to care about animals, and the turnover rate in the industry is high -- 60%. It's depressing, especially when the research shows that Grandin's techniques work. She does include a short section where she explains why she continues to work for the industry (she's a consultant for McDonald's)instead of committing to a activist lifestyle.
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