Kathy Rudy


On her book Loving Animals: Toward a New Animal Advocacy

Cover Interview of October 27, 2011


At no point in history have humans used animals like we’re using them in America today.  Factory farms crank out almost three pounds of meat per person per day from 20 billion food animals who function literally as flesh machines; thousands of breeders offer inbred, often aggressive, damaged pets for sale on the internet and in pet stores everyday; the black market in exotic animals from chimps to tigers to wolves crosses through zoos, laboratories, and collectors of all sorts; and the number of animals maimed and killed for the testing of products and pharmaceuticals is almost double what it was twenty years ago.  In terms of sheer numbers alone, the situation for animals in America today has never been direr.

However, I don’t believe that the animal rights movement has really made significant improvements in these conditions.

It does not claim membership anywhere near other contemporary social movements such as feminism or gay rights; indeed, many people—even many animal lovers—have a hard time fitting into many animal rights organizations, and an even harder time embracing the radical abolitionist philosophy espoused by many animal rights theorists.

Most people are unwilling to embrace this perspective because they believe that animals have been and will continue to be enmeshed in human culture.

Loving Animals argues that what animals need is not complete liberation from human culture and use, but rather balanced relationships with humans built on reciprocity and emotional connection.

Because such balance is difficult to address in traditional tools of rationality, these types of relationships are most easily displayed through stories.

Thus, Loving Animals continually oscillates between narrative and critique, between showing and telling.

Stories about human/ animal connection offer us new ways to think about ourselves, other animals, and the entire world around us; sharing and circulating these narratives gives us a new foundation for ethics that, I believe, could transform the world for animals.