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Caturday Reads: The Dogs of Avalon

The Dogs of Avalon

By Laura Schenone

Nonfiction, Pets

WW Norton

Pub Date 22 Aug 2017


The Dogs of Avalon is an incredible book, but not an easy one to read. The subject matter is emotionally charged and has a profound effect on the reader. On the one hand, you see how much good a handful of people manage to do with limited resources. On the other hand, you see how monumental the problem is. So long as animals are valued only for their utility or the money they represent, there cannot be true justice for animals. One thing that I liked about this book is that it does have a degree of empathy for those who get themselves into bad situations (eg a person adopting a tiger because the roadside zoo tells them it will otherwise be put down or the greyhound raiser who loves his dogs but doesn’t consider the “wastage”). Some people mean well, but don’t consider the impact their actions have or the larger situation, particularly when they themselves have little economic means. Marion Fitzgibbon has been a champion for so many who are unable to speak for themselves. She has risked her life and endangered her health not just for animals, but for people marginalized by the majority. Her efforts, particularly in the area of greyhound rescue are astounding. I never realized how important greyhound breeding was to the depressed Irish economy. Nor did I realize that greyhounds were feared and not viewed as “pets”. Having shared my life with several retired racers (all of whom were exceedingly gentle and even tempered), it is a mind-boggling view.

Reading The Dogs of Avalon left me impressed by the human spirit, and inspired to become more active in our own animal rescue community. Successes are wonderful, but there is always far more that needs to be done. Often we overlook the sheer importance of animal welfare, forgetting that without compassion and empathy, we cannot truly be considered human. Bravo Laura Schenone - The Dogs of Avalon is a wonderful book.

5 / 5

I received a copy of The Dogs of Avalon from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.



After adopting an Irish sight hound, Laura Schenone discovers a remarkable and little-known fight to gain justice for dogs and for all animals.

Greyhounds, bred to be the fastest racing dogs on earth, are streaks of lightning. Beautiful, astonishing creatures, tens of thousands of them have been abandoned and destroyed every year once they can no longer compete and win.

The Dogs of Avalon introduces us to the strong-willed Marion Fitzgibbon, born in rural Ireland, where animals are valued only for their utility. But Fitzgibbon believes that suffering is felt by all creatures, and she champions the cause of strays, baffling those around her—including her family—as she and a group of local women rescue any animal in need and taking on increasingly risky missions.

When Fitzgibbon becomes head of the Irish Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals and focuses on the cause of the greyhound, she faces an entrenched racing industry protected by money and power. She joins forces with an American greyhound activist, a foxhunter’s wife, a British lady, and an influential German animal rescuer to create an international network to find these animals homes, confront the racing industry, and provide safe havens where animals can live in peace.

The Dogs of Avalon brings forward the people on the other side of the tracks—Irish Travellers (a people whose Celtic history goes back centuries), dogmen who hope to win big—together with a host of animals on two continents—circus tigers in Ireland, wild monkeys in the Yucatan, dolphins in a marine animal park in Florida, and one very special Irish sight hound in New Jersey named Lily.

In this potent David and Goliath story, Schenone’s journey helps us understand our deep connection to animals and gives us inspiration in the form of the unforgettable Fitzgibbon, who grapples with compassion and activism and shows the difference we are all capable of making in the world.

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