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Dogland: A Journey to the Heart of America's…

Dogland: A Journey to the Heart of America's Dog Problem

by Jacki Skole

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2513664,574 (4.1)5
Soon after Jacki Skole brought home an eight-week-old puppy from a New Jersey rescue organization, she wondered how such a young animal could have so many idiosyncrasies -- so she set out to find an answer. Dogland, an extraordinary mix of memoir and investigative journalism, follows Skole's journey to trace the origins of her newest family member. Along the way, Skole interviewed dozens who work in the world of animal rescue -- from shelter managers to animal rights activists -- taking readers from dilapidated county-run shelters in the South to strip malls in the Northeast where rescue groups seek homes for pets, and from rural and urban "vet deserts" to the very heart of the South's complex relationship with companion dogs. Amid the serious issues facing shelter dogs in America, Skole found tireless animal advocates and humble visionaries who believe their ideas and their passion can save canine lives throughout the South -- and the entire United States.--… (more)



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This is an elegantly written, well-reported book on a subject that left me gobsmacked. It would be very easy for a writer who delved into the very heart of this country's "dog problem" to leap upon a soapbox and beat her chest. Skole is too talented a writer to do anything like this. Instead, she has crafted a subtle, nuanced narrative that looks at the issue of overpopulation, kill shelters, rescue organizations shuttling dogs from southern states to northern states, and the cultural differences between dog ownership between these two regions. It's compelling from page one, since Skole's impetus for the book was the strange journey of her own rescue dog. But that element of memoir gives way to a rich, full-bodied nonfiction narrative, in which the reader is introduced to a whole cast of characters, each fully drawn. No easy conclusions are drawn here, and the complexities are never brushed aside. In particular, I'm thinking about the incisive reporting Skole does on some of the rescue organizations--well-meaning, responsible, no doubt, for countless dogs saved, but also, like any kind of organization, vulnerable to poor management and incompetence that can lead to abuse. I believe that another writer, with Skole's passion for the subject, might have been tempted to whitewash this kind of thing. Skole pays her reader, and her subject matter, the respect the comes from transparency and diligence in reporting.

But aside from the skilled reporting and the nuanced narrative, this is just a great read. There is tension throughout the book, as this is truly a journey. There's a mystery at the heart of this story--Jacki's beloved dog is actually "Daisy's Daughter." That's all she really knew about her pet's provenance. And it was that curiosity about her dog's journey from North Carolina to New Jersey that set her on this story. The stories we hear and the people we meet along the way could come straight out of any John McPhee book. To me, there really is no higher praise. ( )
  bookofmoons | Sep 1, 2016 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
I received this as an ebook for Early Reviewers
It's a well-written book that looks into some of the possible reasons for animal shelter overpopulation and the causes and effects of moving the dogs in shelters in one part of the country to another. Other than the simple fact that more need to be neutered, the problem isn't as simple as you might think at first. So the book is thought provoking, but I don't think it will be a cure for the problem either. The people most likely to be interested in it aren't the ones that most likely need to read it. ( )
  Sennethe | May 12, 2016 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
Enjoyed this read. We have two rescue dogs, one from another state where the problems described here are prominent. Some of of the info in here we knew from dealing with the rescue organizations but this had some well researched in depth information. The pet culture described in the book is informative and sometimes funny. We love our dogs and they both turned out to be good dogs after a period of decompression. Both organizations we worked with were dedicated and professional and helped us find dogs that were suited to be around children. Recommended for those with rescue animals or looking into it. ( )
  jldarden | Mar 26, 2016 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
I have hard time trying to finish this book that got me bored into the middle of the book so I could not finish it. Even though I love dogs and I am glad they have shelters for dogs and cats all over the nation. ( )
  najambus | Feb 12, 2016 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
I, too, have adopted shelter dogs, and my current dog came from the South to the Northeast. The author does a nice job of cover various aspects of dogs in shelters and euthanasia. She covers regional differences and attitudes, groups that focus on spay & neuter efforts, and shelters that focus on increasing adoptions. All of these factor into the issue of dogs in our shelters. A very enjoyable and informative read. ( )
  brewergirl | Feb 7, 2016 |
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