One woman’s journey into the heart of a dog crisis
Soon after Jacki Skole brought home an eight-week-old puppy from a New Jersey rescue organization, she wondered how such a young animal could have so many idiosyncrasies—so she set out to find an answer. Dogland, an extraordinary mix of memoir and investigative journalism, follows Skole’s journey to trace the origins of her newest family member.
Along the way, Skole interviewed dozens who work in the world of animal rescue—from shelter managers to animal rights activists—taking readers from dilapidated county-run shelters in the South to strip malls in the Northeast where rescue groups seek homes for homeless pets, and from rural and urban “vet deserts” to the very heart of the South’s complex relationship with companion dogs.
Amid the serious issues facing shelter dogs in America, Skole found tireless animal advocates and humble visionaries who believe their ideas and their passion can save canine lives throughout the South—and the entire United States.
When journalist Skole adopted a "quirky" mixed-breed puppy from a rescue shelter in New Jersey, she hadn't counted on the journey she'd find herself taking in search of the pup's origins. Skole sets out to locate an address in rural South Carolina, hoping to find the person who surrendered Galen to the kill shelter from which she was rescued and taken north. On the way, Skole meets a variety of people associated with shelters and learns that while the northern states may have a dearth of puppies available for adoptions, shelters in the South are overflowing with them: dogs that have been surrendered, rescued from the streets, or "set out" (i.e., dumped) in boxes in wealthy neighborhoods. The ratio of people to dogs in shelters within poorer communities is exponentially higher than in wealthier areas. Skole determines that a culture of dog ownership that views canines more as property than living animals may be the root cause of the alarmingly high euthanasia rate in Southern shelters. Those who have given their hearts and homes to shelter dogs will find much here to validate their love, but ultimately the book is meant as a call to action.