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Doody's Review ServiceReviewer: Mark S. Kuhlenschmidt, BS, MS, PhD (University of Illinois College of Veterinary Medicine)
Description: This book provides a timely summary of pertinent biochemical, physiological, and immunological data that helps the reader understand, mechanistically, the basis for animal suffering and pain in animals. It also provides a structured overview of the psychological, behavioral, and physiological responses associated with animal suffering. This combination of mechanistic and behavioral data contributes a valuable framework for recognizing and understanding animal suffering relative to our own human experiences.
Purpose: The purpose is to bring together knowledge from a variety of scientific fields that should help people arrive at an informed judgment about animal suffering and to recognize when it is present in a given situation in a given animal species. The book does not present moral views but instead attempts to help readers in their thinking rather than telling them what to think. Such an objective is indeed a worthy one for all of us who have animal contact or care about the animal kingdom. This book meets its objectives extremely well, especially its goal of providing an objective reference for recognizing and understanding animal suffering rather than solely relying on subjective criteria.
Audience: The book is primarily directed at scientists and medical professionals with advanced training in the life sciences, especially the biological sciences. Some sections of the book, particularly the introduction, and the last chapter on dying, however, could be appreciated by lay persons wanting to obtain a more objective view of animal suffering. The author is a Professor of Animal Welfare Science at Massey University and has written extensively in the area. He is an internationally recognized expert in this field.
Features: The book delivers both a general introduction defining animal suffering as well as individual chapters on the types of animal suffering associated with various conditions and situations and stress the animal may experience. The best feature of the book is its presentation of objective data and criteria for understanding a wide array of different types of animal suffering. Two valuable chapters present specific detail pertaining to animal suffering related to the digestive and respiratory systems, which are two of the most important systems subject to direct environmental influences. A set of color photographs present rather graphic detail of some examples of easily recognized animal suffering. The book could benefit from more scientific illustrations, especially summary diagrams illustrating common immunologic and neurologic regulatory pathways involved in stress and tissue injury.
Assessment: I was quite impressed with this book. It summarizes scientific data that provide the reader with a mechanistic understanding of animal suffering. It also provides appropriate anthropomorphic comparisons to allow readers to view animal suffering from their own perspective. The book would be a valuable resource for all scientists and educated lay persons who are involved in animal research, animal husbandry, or animal welfare and regulatory compliance. A particularly useful audience would be members of Institution Animal Care and Use Committees (IACUCs).