Animal Rights and Welfare: A Documentary and Reference Guide. By Lawrence W. Baker. Documentary and Reference Guides. Santa Barbara, CA: Greenwood, 2015. 350 pages. Acid free $100 (ISBN: 978-1-61069-942-6). E-book available (978-1-61069-943-3), call for pricing.

Animal Rights and Welfare: A Documentary and Reference Guide is a collection of fifty-one primary source documents relating to the topics of animal rights and animal welfare. The preface states that these are separate and distinct philosophies: animal rights advocates such as People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals and the Animal Liberation Front hold that humans and animals have the same rights (thereby precluding their use even as pets or assistive animals), whereas animal welfare adherents like the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals and the American Humane Society endorse the use of animals for agriculture, work, biomedical research, etc., but in a manner that minimizes pain and suffering. The documents assembled here represent a wide spectrum of opinion covering both categories. Document types include “book excerpts, government acts and laws, presidential proclamations and comments, news articles, editorials, congressional hearings testimony, court documents, and press releases” (xiii). Entries are arranged chronologically, beginning with Aristotle’s musings on plant, animal, and human differences (322 BCE) and concluding with a 2014 statement on the implications of climate change for animal well-being. Entries range from approximately three to ten pages in length. The table of contents is divided into five sections, each reflecting the salient themes from the era covered in that section. There is considerably more material from the twentieth and twenty-first centuries than earlier periods—likely reflecting the increasingly controversial nature of the subject. The “Reader’s Guide to Related Documents” facilitates subject access by grouping entries under twelve subject headings ranging from “Agriculture Industry” to “Zoos and Aquariums.” A bibliography and a detailed index conclude the book.

Each entry follows a consistent format: a concise description of the document consisting of a representative quote from the document’s main body, a brief explanation of the content, date and place of original publication, and a short summary of its significance; the document itself; an analysis by the compiler which provides helpful context; and a brief “Further Reading” list. This content and organization is effective in helping the reader quickly grasp the key issues and arguments and how those have been expressed over time by classical philosophers, government officials, advocacy groups on all sides, individual activists, and others.

This work fills a gap in existing information sources by bringing together a representative and wide-ranging group of primary sources on a consistently “hot topic.” Marc Bekoff’s Encyclopedia of Animal Rights and Animal Welfare (Greenwood, 2010), a two-volume set from the same publisher, presents a standard encyclopedic treatment of the topics with informative essays with source lists following each, along with an extensive bibliography at the end, but no full text primary documents. Clifford J. Sherry’s Animal Rights: A Reference Handbook (ABC-CLIO, 2009) contains useful background material in textual form. Chapter 6, titled “Data and Documents,” provides eleven excerpts from statutes and hearings relating to US federal legislation, but that is the extent of its primary source coverage. Finally, Daniel S. Mills’ The Encyclopedia of Applied Animal Behaviour and Welfare (CAB International, 2010) treats the welfare aspect through a predominantly zoological lens. While it features an extensive compilation of brief articles, it is not designed to facilitate browsing for animal welfare material and does not include the text of primary documents.

The work under review is a valuable, eclectic collection of relevant primary material on an issue involving strong and diverse public opinion in an accessible format. It is recommended for academic, public, and school libraries serving middle school students and up.—Michael L. Nelson, Collection Development Librarian, University of Wyoming Libraries, Laramie, Wyoming


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