Book review: The Global Guide to Animal Protection

The Global Guide to Animal Protection, edited by Andrew Linzey with a foreword by Archbishop Desmond Tutu. University of Illinois Press, 324pp, pbk; ISBN 978-0-252-07919-1, $27. (£17-99 from the UK distributors at http://www.combinedacademic.co.uk/26583-global-guide-to-animal-protection.html; also available from Amazon and other online booksellers.)

The Global Guide to Animal Protection is a compilation of more than 180 articles arranged in seven sections describing the abuse and exploitation of animals worldwide, the animal protection movement, philosophical issues surrounding the treatment of animals and the principles of a compassionate, animal-friendly lifestyle. The list of contributors reads like a Who’s Who of animal advocates and includes such prominent figures as Jonathan Balcombe, Marc Bekoff, Jasmijn de Boo, Jan Creamer, Joyce d’Silva, Juliet Gellatley, Jane Goodall, Alex Hershaft, Gill Langley, Philip Lymbery, Jill Robinson and Richard Ryder. Surprisingly perhaps, animal rights theorists such as Tom Regan and Peter Singer are conspicuous by their absence, but this is a practical rather than a philosophical guide.

Pride of place among the contributors must go to the editor and compiler of the Guide Andrew Linzey, Director of the Oxford Centre for Animal Ethics, for whom the work took on something of a labour of love during the lengthy gestation period. In his introduction to the Guide, Professor Linzey calls for the establishment of an International Cruelty Tribunal to judge cases of cruelty to animals and specifically to access the culpability of governments in failing to prevent the systematic abuse of animals. Subsequent to the findings of the tribunal, an International Cruelty Register would “name and shame countries whose governments fail to participate in the hearings or fail to take action against cruelty (and) alert people to those countries whose record on cruelty is outstandingly poor”. Idealistic – yes, unrealistic – probably, but as the editor points out, “new initiatives are necessary if we are to be serious in pursuing the possibility of a cruelty-free world”.

The inclusion of a foreword by Nobel Peace Prize winner Archbishop Desmond Tutu adds considerable weight to the publication. In his first major statement on animal welfare, Archbishop Tutu points out that “our dominion over animals is not supposed to be despotism … we do not honour God by abusing other sentient creatures”, and calls on churches to “lead the way by making clear that all cruelty – to other animals as well as human beings – is an affront to civilised living and a sin before God”.

Although the Guide does not claim to be comprehensive, it provides a wide-ranging introduction to animal welfare issues. As such, it is best dipped-into rather than being read from cover to cover. The Guide is most likely to be of use to academic institutions and hopefully also to legislators, brief selected bibliographies at the end of each article pointing the way to further reading for those requiring a deeper understanding of the issues. The tiny font size and absence of illustrations are likely to discourage the casual reader (this is no ‘coffee table’ book), but anyone with an interest in animal protection should get themselves a copy in order to see and better understand the bigger picture. In summary, The Global Guide to Animal Protection is a landmark publication that deserves to become a standard reference work for the animal protection movement.

Paul Appleby

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