Book Club Channel
Compassion for Animals: An Interview with Laura Hobgood-Oster
Jack and I have two dogs—Codi and Cooper—both dogs adopted from local shelters. Cooper is a bully breed mix, a goodwill ambassador for those often maligned dogs. We only have two of our own because of the time we put in with dogs at the shelter and with coordinating foster dogs. So I usually have about ten dogs in foster homes that I'm coordinating.
I'm very involved with our city's animal shelter, the municipal shelter that has to take every dog or cat (and skunk and owl and more) that ends up there. We try to get as many of those animals back out into good homes as we can. My particular role is volunteer dog rescue coordinator, so I try to get dogs into breed rescue groups or into foster homes. I also just do general volunteering—I feed the forty or so dogs there one day a week, manage the petfinder site, do adoption events, help with fundraising events. It's a wonderful, though sometimes very difficult, part of my life.
What do you hope people take away from you book? What action(s) would you like to see as a result of your book?
My primary hope is that at least some people will reconsider who they think we are and who other animals are. In other words, can we include them in our circle of compassion? The book does give some specific ideas for religious communities, but the ideas can be adapted for any individual or community. A few small steps can make a huge difference for animals. One example, in the U.S. in 2010 over 9 billion animals were slaughtered for food. If each American changed their diet so one day a week they didn't eat meat, that means 1.3 billion fewer animals in that system each year. That's a significant number! So small steps, steps that place compassion at the center of our lives, can change the lives of huge numbers of animals.
Visit the Patheos Book Club for more resources on The Friends We Keep: Unleashing Christianity's Compassion for Animals.
Deborah Arca joined the Patheos team after more than ten years managing programs for the Program in Christian Spirituality at the San Francisco Theological Seminary. Deborah has also been a youth minister, a director of Christian Education and music/theatre programs for young people and has served as a music director for worship and special retreats.