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The Importance of Building Enduring Human-Animal Bonds

A new book helps us understand the plight of homeless animals.

Key points

  • A new book bridges the gap between beloved pets and homeless pets in shelters.
  • Author Suzana Gartner writes about the root cause of animal mistreatment and hope for a better future.
  • The book also considers the lives of farm animals, animals in research, animals in captivity, and wildlife.
Source: HONG SON/Pexels

I am extremely pleased to interview Suzana Gartner about her new wide-ranging book A Voice for Animals: The Social Movement That Provides Dignity and Compassion for Animals. It is an extremely eclectic and easy-to-read volume in which she examines "the close connection we share with our beloved companion animals, and the plight of homeless animals. It [also] bridges the gap between beloved pets and homeless pets in shelters [and] offers solutions to end the shelter debacle." Suzana also writes about the lives of farm animals, research animals, animals in captivity, and wildlife.

Marc Bekoff: Why did you write A Voice for Animals?

Suzana Gartner: I wrote A Voice for Animals to educate readers on animal issues and inspire them to take action. Initially, I started to write a book on companion animals as a way to cope with the loss of my beloved dog, Charlie, and to honor his memory. During the writing process, and through my journey in animal rights, I became aware of issues affecting other animal species as well and decided they were well worth including. The intention of this book as it is now is to give a voice to all animals: companion animals, farm animals, and wildlife. My hope is that people recognize that animals are sentient beings that deserve to be treated better. The book is positive, uplifting, easy to understand, and approachable. It provides readers with the knowledge and practical tools and shares heartwarming real-life stories to help the reader relate to animals as individuals with emotions.

MB: How does your book relate to your background and general areas of interest?

SG: As an animal advocate, activist, vegan, and retired animal rights lawyer, I have years of practical experience. I am motivated to share my knowledge with others including individuals, groups, organizations, communities, and more.

My passion for animals started at a young age and has continued into my teen years and adulthood. I sensed early on that animals are such amazing, special creatures with feelings, and they deserve to be treated with dignity and respect. I was always interested in giving animals a voice, and this book is an extension of that.

MB: Who is your intended audience?

SG: This book is written for anyone that cares about animals and wants to make a difference for them. It is intended for all ages, from young readers to older generations, and for individuals, groups, and animal welfare organizations interested in learning more about animal issues.

MB: What are some of the topics you weave into your book, and what are some of your major messages?

SG: My book discusses a number of topics including the human–animal bond; homeless pets; animals and their legal rights; ways to get involved in animal rights; the mistreatment of companion, farm, and working animals; how to prevent animal testing and abuse; plant-based lifestyles and diets; and more. A Voice for Animals is filled with real-life animal stories and celebrates animal victories. It helps readers to understand the deep connection between animals and humans and how animals enhance our lives. We have a biological need to share our lives with them. The book inspires readers to get involved and feel motivated to take action and join this social justice movement.

Individual steps that readers can take include adopting animals from rescues and shelters, not supporting businesses that exploit animals, going vegan, embracing a cruelty-free lifestyle, and more. Animals are complex, sentient creatures with feelings and emotions; they are not disposable commodities for human use. Animals are here with us and not for us.

MB: How does your book differ from others that are concerned with some of the same general topics?

SG: A Voice for Animals is different from similar books as it is uplifting and offers a balanced approach to animal rights. It is an essential read for anyone interested in making the world a better place for animals and is written to encourage people to take action.

My book examines the root cause of the problem of animal mistreatment while offering hope for a better future for animals. The chapters in the book provide readers with a unique perspective from which to view the world from an animal’s lens. My hope is that more people will realize that animals are unique creatures and far more interesting than previously imagined.

Archway Publishing/with permission.
Source: Archway Publishing/with permission.

MB: Are you hopeful that as people learn more about animal emotions and sentience they will treat animals with dignity and compassion?

SG: I am hopeful that as people learn more about animal emotions and sentience they will treat animals better. As documented scientific research reveals, animals are sentient with a range of emotions and are far more complex than we once believed. As research and writing on these topics evolve, we, too, will further realize the individuality and personality that each creature possesses. Hopefully, as people learn about animal emotions and sentience, they will treat all animal species (not just their pets) with dignity and compassion. We have a moral and ethical obligation to be kind and compassionate to our fellow creatures with whom we share this planet.


In conversation with Suzana Gartner (J.D., LL.M. in alternative dispute resolution) an animal advocate, author, mediator, retired animal rights lawyer, and speaker on animal issues. She is also the managing director of operations and programs at the Etobicoke Humane Society.

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