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Sunday, December 23, 2012

Saving Lives and Changing Hearts, written by Rob Laidlaw. Fitzhenry & Whiteside, 2012. $19.95 ages 8 and up

"Juno, a beautiful donkey with a white chest and legs, and big brown eyes was one of them. Her abusive owner hit her with a shovel and didn't give her much food. A concerned neighbor purchased the starving donkey and eventually sent her to the DSC. Today, Juno lives with a small group of older donkeys. She's still nervous around people but is getting better all the time."

The Donkey Sanctuary of Canada is only one of the many reputable projects that takes the care and rehabilitation of animals very seriously. In his newest book Rob Laidlaw, founder of Zoocheck Canada, takes us to many parts of the world to show us the wonderful work that animal sanctuaries and rescue centers are doing. Of Zoocheck, he says:

"Zoocheck Canada is a wildlife protection charity that was established in 1984 to promote and protect the interests and well-being of wild animals. We pursue our goals through research and investigative projects, public education and awareness campaigns, capacity building initiatives, litigation and legislative campaigning. While our primary focus over the years has been wildlife in captivity, Zoocheck has also been involved in numerous campaigns to help wildlife in the wild, including polar bears in the Arctic, elephants in Africa and wild horses in the Canadian west.'

His voice is strong when it comes to the protection of and love for all animals. Ten of the thirteen chapters in this book deal with a variety of animals and how they are being protected. In his introduction, he talks about the importance of these sanctuaries:

"I also realized that sanctuaries can change human attitudes toward animals. They provide a different, friendlier connection to animals that can change perceptions and beliefs. It's dramatically different from looking at animals caged in a zoo or performing in a circus."

He goes on to give a clear picture of what the best sanctuaries are, how they work, and what animals you might find there. He lists the principles of real refuges, and offers a clear look at what rescued animals need. Then, he moves forward to tell us about some of the best places in the world that he has visited and where he has seen close-up the work these remarkable people do. From donkeys and farmed animals, to elephants, bears and birds, he paints a  picture of some of the animals that find shelter in them. The work is varied, and always places the focus directly on the animals needing help.

"At the centre, a series of separate open pools with dry haul-out areas allow the animals an opportunity to swim, sun themselves, or just relax in a safe and secure environment while they recuperate. Good food and excellent care ensure that when they are released, they are fit and healthy enough to survive."

He then posts a warning about the phony centres that crop up, and tells readers that there is now a global federation that polices and promotes excellence in  management and care for all animals
There are accredited members in North and Central America, and in Europe and Africa. He gives needed advice when considering opening a sanctuary and for those young readers wanting to be an advocate for animals. There is a lot that we can do!

In the back matter, he lists many selected sanctuaries and organizations, adds a useful glossary and index and includes testimonials about Saving Lives and Changing Hearts.

Positive and positively enlightening, this is a book for the animal lovers in your family, or at your school.

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