It is no secret that we humans have a special relationship with the animal world. According to statistics, 63 per cent of all households have at least one pet. In 2004 alone American pet-owners plunked down $36 billion worth of pet product expenditures. More money was spent in 2004 on pet food than on baby food.
In a recent survey about attitudes fully 70 per cent of respondents identified the family pet as a “member of the family.” On the other hand, millions of cows and chickens are unceremoniously slaughtered each year to feed our unappeasable lust for “Whoppers” and “McNuggets.” The world waits breathlessly transfixed on the latest news of a single whale foundering in the surf. Meanwhile millions of tons of fish are hauled from the ocean by commercial fishermen.
As Erika Ritter explores in this fresh, fascinating and eye-opening new book, at the heart of this relationship is a paradox?a relationship that is almost schizophrenic in its absurdity: we humans are animals, too. How to account for how and why we have developed this odd relationship with our “fellow” animals. Through interviews conducted around the world with philosophers, scientists, farmers, poets, pundits and commentators, Ritter makes her way through this strange maze of human contractions about our animal brethren to produce a work that reveals as much about “us” as about “them.”