Review: The Animal Manifesto

The Animal Manifesto.

Marc Bekoff’s The Animal Manifesto: Six Reasons for Expanding Our Compassion Footprint isn’t exactly a dog book, but there are dogs featured in it. Furthermore, much of this slim book’s premise aligns with how I think we could all approach dogs: Compassionately.

Bekoff is a reasonably well-known ethologist and a prolific writer about animal rights and animal behavior. This book is his humble and clear attempt to provide animals with a manifesto of their own, a treatise for their innate rights as fellow citizens of Earth. It is an easy and accessible book and it’s one that I wish all Americans, especially, would read.

Here are Bekoff’s six reasons for showing animals more compassion than we show them now:

  1. All animals share the Earth and we must coexist.
  2. Animals think and feel.
  3. Animals have and deserve compassion.
  4. Connection breeds caring, alienation breeds disrespect.
  5. Our world is not compassionate to animals.
  6. Acting compassionately helps all beings and our world.

He expands on each of these reasons in separate chapters, citing numerous studies, scientific surveys, and media anecdotes to prove each of these points. One of the book’s gimmicks is providing several pages of news excerpts about animals showing compassion to one another or humans showing injustice to animals. I appreciated reading these clips, but I occasionally felt like he could have trimmed them down a bit.

This book further reinforced a lot of epiphanies about animal rights and compassion toward animals that I first discovered in Animals Make Us Human. Again, it’s simple and small and it takes no time at all to read, but it could totally revolutionize the way you look at animals–even, or perhaps especially, the ones that don’t live in your house with you. It’s a compelling plea for reverence and awe toward the created world and for widespread justice for the voiceless, the creatures who share our planet and are often left at our mercy. I’d recommend it to you, if only as a refresher for all the important reasons to be gentle, compassionate, and respectful toward animals.


5 thoughts on “Review: The Animal Manifesto

  1. It’s sad that we’ve reached an age where compassion has to be an agenda for polemical writing. I look forward to reading this.

    Relatedly, do you have Donna Haraway’s Companion Species Manifesto on your reading list?

  2. The idea of compassion for all animals is one that many people skirt around in pet-loving circles. I was very surprised to see how few people I met at BlogPaws were vegetarians.

    Many people make a sharp distinction between how companion animals are treated and livestock animals.

    I struggle with this myself. I’m interested to read what Beckoff has to say.

  3. I ordered a used copy from Canada. I am not an animal rights person but an animal welfare person; animals cannot vote nor care for themselves outside of us leaving habitat in which to live and getting out of their way by not polluting. I own my dogs because saying that construes legal responsibility for their welfare and enrichment. On the other hand, I am their Mom, ’cause to me Mom = love :). I’m very interested in this book now. Am a defacto vegetarian for 10 years now; I can’t swallow so use tube feeding through a stomach tube. My sister, who is an animal rights person, declared me a vegetarian though at the time about 8 years ago, I really wanted a cheeseburger….Have read Temple Grandin and followed the debate about livestock. Have had horses and family with cows/bulls…free range is the best way to go for the sake of the animal in factory/home farming but I am not a farmer either so my opinion is very light-weight.
    I appreciate the review and will watch for the over-long clips :).

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