Unnatural Companions
272 pages, 6 x 9
Release Date:21 May 2020

Unnatural Companions

Rethinking Our Love of Pets in an Age of Wildlife Extinction

Island Press

We love our pets. Dogs, cats, birds, reptiles, and other species have become an essential part of more families than ever before—in North America today, pets outnumber people. Pet owners are drawn to their animal companions through an innate desire to connect with other species. But there is a dark side to our domestic connection with animal life: the pet industry is contributing to a global conservation crisis for wildlife—often without the knowledge of pet owners.

In Unnatural Companions, journalist Peter Christie issues a call to action for pet owners. If we hope to reverse the alarming trend of wildlife decline, pet owners must acknowledge the pets-versus-conservation dilemma, and concede that our well-fed and sheltered cats too often prey on small backyard wildlife and that seemingly harmless reptiles released into the wild might be the next destructive invasive species. We want our pets to eat nutritionally healthy food, but how does the designer food we feed them impact the environment?

This book is a cautionary tale to responsible pet owners that we must change the ways we love and care for our pets. It concludes with the positive message that small changes we make at home can foster better practices in the pet industry that will ultimately benefit our pets’ wild brethren.

Peter Christie is an award-winning Canadian science journalist and author who writes frequently about conservation. He is a national Science in Society Journalism Award whose stories and features have appeared in The Globe and Mail, Maclean’s, ON Nature magazine, Canadian Geographic, The Ottawa Citizen, The Vancouver Sun, The Edmonton Journal, and The Montreal Gazette. He is the award-winning author of science books for children and young adults, and has worked as a science communications consultant for the World Wildlife Fund, the Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society, the Royal Society of Canada, the Boreal Songbird Initiative, and the Canadian Climate Forum.
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