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May 11, 2011

Pacelle Speaks to Mother’s Day Crowd About "The Bond"

Enthusiastic Florida residents gather to celebrate their bond with beloved family members—their pets

Video update from a prior stop in Orlando, Fla.

As the sun shone brightly through the windows of the Barnes & Noble in Sarasota, Fla., HSUS president and CEO Wayne Pacelle acknowledged the many pet parents in attendance on Mother’s Day.  

The crowd that had come to hear Pacelle discuss his new book, "The Bond: Our Kinship with Animals, Our Call to Defend Them," greeted him with a round of applause. Pacelle’s appearance in Sarasota was the 27th stop on a national book tour begun in early May.

His message about the human-animal bond extended far beyond pets.

“We are at a contradictory moment,” Pacelle said. “There is so much that is good for animals, but so many examples of cruelty in our society. I wrote 'The Bond' to explore how we sort through this. The moral question of our responsibility to animals is settled. The dilemma is in the application of that principle.”

Pacelle cited emancipation and women’s suffrage as struggles that took decades to achieve. He noted that the treatment of animals on factory farms, animals killed for fur, and the countless litters of puppies churned out at puppy mills in this county are examples in which the laws of today’s society are out of alignment with American values of justice, democracy and equality. “I don’t talk about animal rights. I frame the issue as one of human responsibility. Are we so miserly that we can’t be kind to animals?” he challenged the audience.

The seal hunt in Canada is an example of the old economy, Pacelle said, arguing that the government of Canada could do more to help the economy in Atlantic Canada by supporting ecotourism instead of subsidizing a diminishing seal hunt.

“I frame the issue as one of human responsibility. Are we so miserly that we can’t be kind to animals?”

“When you step back and look at the broad view, things are really changing,” was Pacelle’s response to a question posed by an audience member frustrated by the pace of change. He cited attention to factory farming and the increasing number of food options in the marketplace. Others in the audience noted a recent move by the Florida legislature to criminalize undercover investigations of factory farms; that bill was defeated just last week.

Catherine Ellis, a board member with the Sarasota Humane Society who has rescued pit bulls, attended the event. “I’m so happy that Wayne is out there advocating for the animals,” Ellis said. Others in attendance included members of Sarasota in Defense of Animals and a woman who spoke proudly about her purebred Dobermans.

The audience in this coastal community nodded appreciatively as Pacelle recounted the Hurricane Katrina animal rescue effort and read an excerpt from "The Bond" in which he describes watching a plane filled with dogs waiting to be airlifted from Baton Rouge to animal shelters in California after temporary shelters in Louisiana had reached capacity.

As Pacelle signed copies of "The Bond" and posed for pictures, filmmaker Jenna Norwood presented Pacelle with an apple. The gift was one of many that supporters have offered to the HSUS leader for his work on behalf of animals.

“It’s wonderful to have a chance to meet so many people who are doing great work for animals in their communities,” said Pacelle.

» Read more about The Bond and see schedule of remaining tour events

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