Inspired by her adopted lurcher, Lily, author Laura Schenone started to research the background story of Irish sighthounds that were being imported into the United States for adoption.
Her research reveals the story of Marion Fitzgibbon, who witnessed firsthand the appalling animal welfare problems in her native Ireland and started to take action. Marion’s story starts small, as most animal welfare initiatives do. But her dream and her passion builds as she finds friends who are willing to work alongside her and to help find shelter and fostering options for rescued animals.
She eventually becomes the head of the Irish Society for the Protection of Cruelty Animals and she is experienced enough and with enough authority to tackle the greyhound racing industry. This includes conducting an undercover investigation into facilities in Spain, where many of the Irish greyhounds were sold to live in appalling conditions.
In Ireland, very few people were willing to adopt the greyhounds that their country’s highly subsidized racing industry supported – and so many were sent to the United States which is how the author’s Lily came to reside in New Jersey.
And for a time the book focuses on the USA greyhound racing industry and the groundswell of support to help shut tracks down. I actually found this part of the book to be its weakest – diverting from the Irish story. The cause to shut down the Wonderland track in Massachusetts is covered, for example; but not particularly clearly in my opinion. (I grew up in Massachusetts and Wonderland is a stop on the Blue Line of Boston’s subway system.)
Like all true stories of animal welfare organizations, there are many cases that are not easy to read. But that is the reality that we must face when acknowledging how people and industries view the rights (or lack thereof) of animals and the history of how man has treated animals.
As a greyhound owner myself, I could never have passed by this book. It’s a solid read for greyhound lovers, all dog owners, and anyone interested in animal welfare.
Kathleen Crisley, specialist in dog massage, rehabilitation and nutrition/food therapy, The Balanced Dog, Christchurch, New Zealand