An Odyssey with Animals: A Veterinarian's Reflections on the Animal Rights & Welfare Debate

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A bitter controversy rages in Western society today: Is it unreasonably cruel to conduct biomedical research on animals? On one side lies a devoted (and, at times, aggressive and even violent) group of activists who believe animals are not human property, subject to our influence and interference. On the other are the researchers whose work developing life-saving medical treatments has hinged on the use of laboratory animals—and the patients who benefit from those treatments. As a veterinarian and sleep researcher, Adrian Morrison understands both sides of the issue, as well as the passions it arouses. Animal use in biomedical research, he argues, is a necessary part of medical advancements that improve human health and quality of life. This is not a position Morrison takes lightly, for he has been the victim of repeated acts of intimidation by animal-rights extremists, who vandalized his office and threatened his family. Refusing to be silenced, Morrison has written extensively on the humane but necessary use of laboratory animals, and was for three years director of the NIMH Program for Animal Research Issues. In this book, he offers the culmination of decades of reflection, scholarly research into the animal rights issue, and first-hand work with animals. The result is a thought-provoking, intelligent, and fair-minded discussion of an emotionally charged subject.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

" An Odyssey with Animals demonstrates that even someone who has held hard-line positions in the animal research/rights debate can offer a thoughtful perspective, and suggest points where compromise might be reached. This is one of the strengths of Morrison's book-- the way his story becomes a journey of exploration, and the way that he not only solidifies some of his own opinions but also allows himself to be open to possible shifts. . .Morrison's reputation as an outstanding researcher and his importance as one of the rare scientists willing to speak out on this issue will undoubtedly make [this book] a valued part of the continuing public discussion on animal research."--Deborah Blum, Professor of Journalism, University of Wisconsin-Madison, and author of The Monkey Wars

"Here is the account of a spine-chilling journey through the world of animal use and the abuse of science. It is written by one whose rich experience, deep understanding, warm heart, and balanced mind qualify him beyond all others to tell the awesome tale. This is a splendid book."--Carl Cohen, Ph.D., Professor of Philosophy, University of Michigan

"[This book] does for the animal rights and welfare debate what Lance Armstrong's book accomplished for cancer; although bad things happen to good people, our response to personal adversity can be transcendent. Odyssey candidly describes how Morrison, a scientist, veterinarian, and community leader became the target of animal rights extremists, giving us a balanced corrective in which reason supplants rage, knowledge replaces superstition, and love trumps hate. . .[A]ccessible, entertaining, appalling, and inspiring." -Ralph Lydic, Ph.D., Bert La Du Professor of Anesthesiology, University of Michigan

"This book is the culmination of the author's years spent negotiating the divide between animal welfare and biomedical research, and also his attempt to give a voice to the dozens of biomedical researchers who have been victimized..."--Missouri Medicine

Check out the AgWired blog for a quick review of An Odyssey with Animals!

"Odyssey is partly a story of Morrison's role as defender of animal research and partly a thought-provoking self-examination of his own perception of the human-animal bond in all of its forms. However, the core of the book is a wonderful glimpse into the laboratory and the dedicated researchers who make medical progress possible...Odyssey is not an emotional defense of animal use although it is loaded with introspection about animals and peppered with personal thoughts and observations...Morrison makes an ethical, moral, and sensible argument for biomedical research even while cutting moderate activists some slack. The book is invaluable for anyone who wants to understand lab animal medical research as well as for the lawmakers and policy wonks who will write laws and regulations to govern research activities."--As reviewed by NAIA

"Dr. Morrison's book An Odyssey with Animals is a refreshing departure from the existing and typically polarizing literature dealing with the contentious issue of the use of animals in biomedical research....This work is a thoughtful, insightful, and highly personal reflective analysis of his [Dr. Morrison's] ambivalence toward the use of animals...[it] provides a nonconfrontational discussion of the relationship among animal rights/welfare activists, extremists, and the animal welfare movement, emphasizing the very important and oft-confused difference between animal welfare and animal rights....this book is particularly welcome and valuable. Hopefully, it will encourage clinicians, researchers, and professional organizations alike to become more actively and aggressively involved in this critical debate. This easy-to-read book filled with poignant anecdotes will be an invaluable resource to all sides dealing with this difficult and often emotional issue."--Sleep

"Whether you are a researcher or a lay person, pro-research or pro-animal rights--or anywhere in between--Adrian Morrison's An Odyssey with Animals: A Veterinarian's Reflections on the Animal Rights & Welfare Debate (2009) will give you much to pause and consider...Inspired by personal experience, Odyssey is written with an easy, personable tone....No matter where you eventually fall in the debate yourself, reading An Odyssey with Animals will enrich your understanding of a difficult and complex issue and add depth to whatever conclusions you draw."--Claire Edwards, as reviewed in The Physiologist

"Overall, this book would be an interesting addition to the shelves of those interested in the animal rights/welfare debate and for those interested in an in-depth personal commentary on pivotal events as well as personal thoughts on the subject."--Journal of the American Association for Laboratory Animal Science

"This 272-page book should be read by all physicians and scientists in order to understand the threats posed to the advancement of medical science and to the development of treatments and cures for many human diseases."--Journal of Child Neurology

"Exposing one's core beliefs about the contentious topic of animal experimentation makes one vulnerable to partisan attack. Morrison's reflections deserve respect, because--unlike other books and blogs--this work is not a polemic account but a treatise on how using animals in research advances knowledge and ensures scientific progress....Perhaps the biggest achievement of this book is its demonstration that, through reflective reasoning and critical scholarship, it is possible for a researcher like Morrison to '...see a changed world, and [that] I have changed wtih it.'"--Nature Medicine

"...Morrison himself has devoted much of his time to thinking, debating, and writing about how humans should interact with animals. He admits that, for all their excesses, those hardcore advocates performed a valuable service: prompting scientists to re-examine whether and how they should make use of animals in their work. Morrison's initial rage, in other words, has given way to reflection, and this wise book is the result."--The Pennsylvania Gazette

"An Odyssey with Animals should be read by all teachers and others who have to answer questions about the use of animals in research, for food, in sport, and even as pets." --The American Biology Teacher

"...Morrison's breadth of experience across a wide range of contentious issues in our relationship with animals makes his an unusual book. Whatever side of the fence you believe yourself to be on, after reading his book you will surely come to appreciate that there are many fences and Morrison has worked harder than most to break them down." --Nature Neuroscience

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780195374445
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press
  • Publication date: 6/25/2009
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 288
  • Product dimensions: 6.40 (w) x 9.30 (h) x 1.00 (d)

Meet the Author

Adrian R. Morrison, D.V.M., Ph.D. is Professor Emeritus of Behavioral Neuroscience at the University of Pennsylvania's School of Veterinary Medicine. He is an internationally known expert on REM sleep and a defender of the humane use of animals in biomedical research.

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