Saving Molly: A Research Veterinarian's Choices

Overview

"There are a number of compassionate people who never come to terms with the laboratory conditions, but stay because they feel that they can then try to make things better for the chimps. One such is Dr. James Mahoney...Jim is one of the most gentle and compassionate people I know." --Jane Goodall

"The very term, vivisection, arouses strong emotional reactions on both sides. On one side stand most medical scientists, rigid and unyielding; on the other, a host of philosophers ...

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Saving Molly: A Research Veterinarian's Choices

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Overview

"There are a number of compassionate people who never come to terms with the laboratory conditions, but stay because they feel that they can then try to make things better for the chimps. One such is Dr. James Mahoney...Jim is one of the most gentle and compassionate people I know." --Jane Goodall

"The very term, vivisection, arouses strong emotional reactions on both sides. On one side stand most medical scientists, rigid and unyielding; on the other, a host of philosophers and ethicists...In the middle stand Molly's Jim as well as Dr. Mahoney, the chimpanzees' doctor, both packaged inside one gentle, caring man trying to calm the emotions, soften the rhetoric, and most important, make sense of it all. There is conflict within him that one doubts can be resolved." --Roger A. Caras, from the Introduction

"What's important to me is that he is concerned about the pain and the suffering of the animals." That's what makes Jim Mahoney different." --Alex Pacheco, founder of People of the Ethical Treatment of Animals

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
"I have never seen myself as a spokesman for animal research," Mahoney writes in the prologue to this searching life snapshot. "My mission, as I see it, is to encourage a gentler, more compassionate approach towards animals in the laboratory." Mahoney is a London-born research veterinarian who works with primates to find cures for human diseases like AIDS. His Laboratory for Experimental Medicine and Surgery in Primates (LEMSIP) in New York tries to treat the animals in its care as humanely as possible--a practice, Mahoney allows, that sets it apart from many labs. Mahoney reflects on the trials and tribulations of lab life during the period he and his wife cared for Molly, "a dog of modest origins" they came across on vacation in Jamaica and adopted. Molly was extremely ill, practically blind in one eye, anemic and at one point seemed possibly brain damaged. Mahoney and his wife nurtured the pup as one would a sick infant, around the clock, often taking her to bed. In telling the story of Molly's miraculous recovery, Mahoney draws parallels between her plight and that of lab animals, both those in his care (to whom he becomes heartbreakingly attached) and elsewhere. His candid reflections reveal, as noted by ASPCA president Caras, his courage and compassion in the face of thorny ethical conflict: namely, whether the lives of animals should be sacrificed, in quality or in quantity, in order to better our own. (July) FYI: National Geographic Discovery has produced a documentary on LEMSIP, which shut down soon after this book was completed, that airs on the TBS network August 30.
Kirkus Reviews
The life story, and heartrending ruminations, of Mahoney, a good veterinarian operating in the suspect terrain of medical research on primates. Mahoney is the former acting director of LEMSIP, the Laboratory for Experimental Medicine and Surgery in Primates, at New York University. The creatures under his commandþfrom rhesus monkeys to chimpanzees, baboons to marmosetsþwere subjects used in the search for vaccines and cures for such diseases as AIDS and hepatitis. But Mahoney is no vivisectionist ghoul. Although he sees "no alternative to using animals in research," he well understands that the animals pay a heavy price for their involuntary contribution: physically, emotionally, psychologically. And trained in compassion, he is not unaware of the irony involved in his work, the nexus of veterinary and human medicine, where any Hippocratic oath sworn by vets toward animals is subsumed by the need for answers to human ailments. He has worked hard to eliminate the ghetto conditions for animals in research facilities, to ameliorate the shattering isolation experienced by infected primates, to erase euthanasia as the fate of no-longer-useful test subjects; yet he also holds "the conviction that without using animals in research we wouldn't be able to make the advances in medical knowledge that have greatly improved human health." As Mahoney sits on his ethical fence, he plays these conundrums against his saving of a newborn bush dog, Molly, an archetypal flea-bitten runt of the litter, with worms and eyes matted shut with pus, brought home from a vacation in Jamaica. But the story of Molly, warm and crisis-ridden and ultimately gratifying as it is, feels like a contrivanceto demonstrate the extraordinary lengths Mahoney will go to for an animal, even as he sends others off for acute, terminal studies. Mahoney's heart and soul are in suspension—he loves his primate charges, he kills his primate charges; even his gentling kindness doesn't let him off the hook, and he knows it.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781565121737
  • Publisher: Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill
  • Publication date: 1/5/1998
  • Edition description: 1 ED
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 234
  • Product dimensions: 5.87 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 0.83 (d)

Meet the Author


James Mahoney, D.V.M., Ph.D., has been a veternarian for more than thirty years. A native of Ireland, he is a researcher specializing in the reproductive systems of primates. He lives in upstate New York with his wife and pets.
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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 10, 2011

    A MUST read!

    Not only is this book inspiring on so many levels, so is the man who wrote it, Jim Mahoney. I worked with him at the UW Primate Center in Madison many years ago and he is a truly sensitive, giving man and he so dearly loves animals. I thank God there are people like him that although they do their work on behalf of research they "police" the abuse and keep a watchful, caring eye. They are necessary and a blessing. He is truly a great individual and I feel so lucky to have spent time with him. Love his Irish accent, sparkling blue eyes and wonderful sense of humor. God bless you Jim and thank you for sharing this wonderful book!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 25, 2009

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