Rethinking Rescue

Dog Lady and the Story of America's Forgotten People and Pets

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Book Description

“Lori Weise’s heroic work keeps animals with the people who love them.” —Danny Trejo, actor, New York Times best-selling author of Trejo: My Life of Crime, Redemption, and Hollywood

In Los Angeles’s most underserved communities, Lori Weise is known as the Dog Lady, the woman who’s spent decades caring for people in poverty and the animals that love them. Long before anyone else, Weise grasped that animal and human suffering are inextricably connected and created a new rescue narrative, an enduring safety net empowering pet owners and providing resources to reduce the number of pets coming into shelters.

Rethinking Rescue: Dog Lady and the Story of America’s Forgotten People and Pets unites the causes of animal welfare and social justice, moving between Weise’s story and that of the U.S. rescue movement: from the dog’s twentieth-century transition from property to family to the rise of the no kill campaign to stop shelter euthanasia and the contradictions that hampered those efforts. Through captivating storytelling and investigative reporting, Carol Mithers examines the consequences of bias within this overwhelmingly white movement, where an overemphasis on placing animals in affluent homes often disregards pet owners in poverty. Weise’s innovative and ultimately triumphant efforts revealed a better way.

Rethinking Rescue boldly confronts two of the biggest challenges of our time—poverty and homelessness—in asking the very humane question, Who deserves the love of a pet?

About the Author

Praise For This Book

"An engrossing, inspiring read for lovers of dogs and humans alike." —Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

"[An] eye-opening account . . . Mithers’s finely crafted narrative applauds Weise’s work but doesn’t cut corners; it unflinchingly depicts the harrowing conditions pets face in homeless encampments. The result is a provocative challenge to contemporary mores regarding animal welfare." —Publishers Weekly (starred review)

"In this compelling and important story, Carol Mithers explores the unexpected impacts of economic inequality on America’s pets and pet owners. Highlighting the groundbreaking work of Lori Weise amidst key moments in the larger rescue movement suggests solutions to some of today’s central human-animal issues.” —Abigail Disney, filmmaker, philanthropist, and activist

“Animal lovers everywhere can take heart from the story of Lori Weise, whose trailblazing crusade brought social justice to the animal welfare brigade, and illuminated the bond between cast-off animals and the unhoused people who love them.” —Sandy Banks, veteran Los Angeles Times staff writer chronicling life on the city’s streets

“An eye-opening look at the systemic challenges faced by loving pet owners whose only 'crime' is being poor—and the inspiring advocates working tirelessly to give both animals and humans a life-changing (and in some cases, lifesaving) helping hand.” —Bobbi Dempsey, journalist specializing in poverty and income inequality

"Through the unforgettable story of one amazing woman, Rethinking Rescue tells the uplifting but often heartbreaking story of how the modern animal rescue movement has both saved and failed our nation’s dogs—and their humans. As it takes us on a journey into a world where animal welfare meets and collides with America’s seemingly intractable inequality, the book asks some hard questions. It’s a haunting and compelling read, one that’s all but impossible to put down till the final page.” —Helaine Olen, Omidyar Network Reporter in Residence 2024 and author of Pound Foolish: Exposing the Dark Side of the Personal Finance Industry