Book review – Through a Vet’s Eyes by Sean Wensley

To say that I enjoyed this book wouldn’t quite be right because it is about man’s inhumanity to other living creatures, but the author, a vet, has a gentle and engaging manner which makes this a very good read. I learned a lot, and most of it was disquieting.

The author is keen on wildlife and each chapter starts with him travelling somewhere, perhaps on his way to visit a farm, and seeing some wild animals, often birds, and often in the northwest of England. This helps to break up the chapters which are mainly about the way that we treat captive animals, whether they be kept as pets or kept for food production.

This book should make all of us think more deeply about those animals that are kept for our benefit, whether they be pets, racehorses, laying hens, dairy cows or animals for meat. I’m glad I don’t have any pets, I’m pleased that I am close to vegetarian but I now need to go away and think more about edging a bit closer to some type of veganism with lower dairy use and continue to reevaluate whether I should watch the horse racing on TV or in person. I think in all cases it is the perspective of whether the captive animal can express its normal behaviour which makes a big impact on me. I was particularly interested in the impacts of housing conditions, but also of diets, on horses – whether they be privately owned, kept for show jumping or racehorses.

This is decidedly not a preachy book, but the combination of anecdotes of the author’s experience as a vet (there is a particularly telling story of the treatment of a horse in California) with the science surrounding animal welfare make a strong case for change in what many of us have come to think of as normal, and to consider one’s own part in being an agent for change.  The last chapter helps a bit in that regard.

There is a good index and a very useful Notes section which is not just a list of references but contains other information. This book is a good place to start finding out more and the places to go are well signposted.

The cover? I think it’s just right for this book – the pig has a very wistful expression. I’d give it 9/10.

Through a Vet’s Eyes: how we can all choose a better life for animals by Sean Wensley is published by Gaia.

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