Cape Cod Writers Center

Dogs Are Better Than People: Encountering Good and Evil in the Animal Rescue World

Dogs Are Better Than People: Encountering Good and Evil in the Animal Rescue World


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By Lori Bradley-Millstein

A mystery story, an animal rescue story and a feel-good story told with humor in the style of beloved veterinarian and author, James Herriot,”Dogs Are Better Than People” is the story of one woman’s transformation from armchair sympathizer to animal activist. Powerful and humorous; it is part memoir, undercover report and love letter to companion animals everywhere. During one difficult year, Lori Bradley-Millstein’s parents became terminally ill, she found herself in yet another new town after years of relocating for jobs with a busy husband often away at work and without any family nearby. Then, suddenly, her favorite dog passed away. Suddenly, Lori became deeply and profoundly depressed. In searching for a way out of paralyzing sadness and isolation she turned to her first love – companion animals. She began a 10-year adventure as a volunteer at urban no-kill animal shelters and rescues, beginning as an idealistic innocent and learning through experience that rescue is complicated and morally challenging. She overcame her shyness to take on those who, sometimes in the guise of helpers, seek to harm animals for profit. A remarkable group of animal activist friends accompanied Lori in her rescue journey, eventually encouraging her to put down roots in her new community and becoming a second family. Millions of unwanted animals die in shelters every year. This story is for them and the many compassionate people who work relentlessly to save them.

From Pat Gomes, Poet Laureate New Bedford, MA

The title shouted at me because I share that sentiment: dogs ARE better than people. The author’s journey and her devotion to dogs — particularly “rescue” dogs is inspiring. From the very beginning with recollections of her childhood, Bradley-Millstein draws the reader in. As an infant, she spent much of her time with Pepper, the family dog. Pepper became her babysitter as she learned to walk by pulling herself up to stand by grabbing Pepper’s fur. Pepper became her surrogate mother. Soon, the author developed a dry, rasping cough. The family doctor could not figure out what was going on, so he visited the child in her home environment. It didn’t take him long to deduce that Bradley-Millstein was not coughing — she was barking. She was learning to speak dog, barking when she was hungry, when she needed attention, and when her diaper needed changing.

Her love of dogs became a lifestyle, and there have been many over the years. She delights the reader with tales of Black Star, the German Shepard; Hawk, the pit bull; Chopper the Old English Bulldog with the scary under bite; and my personal favorite, Trixie, an urban mix of Pit Bull and Chihuahua, who while adoring the author, terrorized her husband, Mark.

Bradley-Millstein takes us on her mission to aid rescue dogs through all sorts of rescue shelters — good and bad. The politics behind some of the shelters and their executive boards was unexpected. Having never volunteered at an animal shelter, I had no clue as to what goes on behind the scenes and I’m certain most readers will be equally surprised. To call it an eye-opener is an understatement. As the Poet Laureate of New Bedford, Massachusetts, I have had the pleasure to meet and get to know this author. Her work with animals continues even as I type this; she is an inspiration to all animal lovers, and a godsend to rescue dogs. I am proud to have this book in my personal library.


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