Hardcover: 336 pages
Publisher: St. Martin’s Press; First Edition (July 22, 2014)
Against the backdrop of a glittering but brutal circus world, Last Chain on Billie charts the history of elephants in America, the inspiring story of the Elephant Sanctuary and the spellbinding tale of a resilient elephant who defied the system even as she struggled to conquer her past, who never lost sight of the life she was meant to have.
Left in the wild, Billie the elephant would have spent her days surrounded by family, free to wander the jungles of Asia. Instead, traders captured her as a baby and shipped her to America, where she learned to carry humans, stand on a tub and balance on one leg – the full repertoire of elephant tricks. For decades, Billie crisscrossed the country, dazzling audiences as she performed breathtaking stunts. But behind the scenes she lived a life of misery: traveling in trucks, chained for hours on end, barely able to move, giving eight-minute performances under harsh lights and to the sounds of blaring music. And worse.
Finally, she got a lucky break. As part of the largest elephant rescue in American history, Billie wound up at a sanctuary for performing elephants in Tennessee, able once more to roam through open meadows and share her days with a herd. She would never be beaten again.
But, overcome with anxiety, she withdrew from the rest of the elephants and refused to let anyone remove a chain still clamped around her leg. Her caregivers began to wonder if Billie could ever escape her emotional wounds.
The compelling story of Billie’s battle to reclaim her old self is a testament to the intelligence, emotional complexity and remarkable strength of all elephants, captive or free.
Here’s a video of Billie and her friend Frieda arriving at the Elephant Sanctuary:
How one dog escaped the shadowy world
of American puppy mills
Publisher: Wiley & Sons
Saving Gracie is the compelling true story of one dog’s rescue from a Pennsylvania puppy mill and her transformation from a bedraggled animal, worn out from bearing puppies, into a loving, healthy member of her new family.
The book also profiles the people who stepped forward to save her along the way.
Praise for Saving Gracie
“Journalist Bradley unleashes a scorching investigation of puppy mills, where dogs in filthy cages are forced to breed until they die and are sold riddled with diseases. Her narrative follows Gracie, a sickly Cavalier King Charles spaniel who has never felt grass under her feet but whose lot improves after she’s adopted. Bradley boldly names villains (breeders who failed to register to escape inspections) and heroes (a Wisconsin humane society that saves 1,600 dogs). Not for the fainthearted, the book is an impassioned call to action: Adopt from pet shelters and rescues.
“Bradley’s compelling account propels readers on a roller-coaster ride of emotion as they follow Gracie’s journey from a squalid puppy mill to a loving home. But this is also an excellent exposé of a shady industry—it describes legislative attempts to control the large-scale breeding of dogs and evaluates the effectiveness of those efforts.” (Library Journal, February 1, 2010)
“Journalist Bradley exposes the hidden world of puppy mills, where dogs are caged like chickens and forced to repeatedly breed until they die. Unlike most factory farm animals that endure painful confinement and are slaughtered within six months of birth, mill breeding dogs are sentenced to many years of existence in deplorable conditions; many don’t learn to walk because their cages don’t give them enough room to stand. Bradley details the raid of one such mill, Mike-Mar Kennel in Oxford, Pa., which led to the seizure of more than 300 dogs, mostly adults that had languished for years with broken limbs and untreated diseases. Dog 132, a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel later named Gracie, was rescued during the raid. Nearly blind, with decayed teeth and a strong aversion to human contact, Gracie flourished under the love and patience of her adoptive owner, Linda Jackson. Bradley’s powerful narrative will tug at heartstrings, raise public awareness, and, hopefully, help put an end to puppy mills.” (Publishers Weekly, January 4th, 2010)
“Saving Gracie is heart-rending but also wonderfully stirring and empowering. The operators of puppy mills are arrogant, greedy, and cruel, but the people committed to putting them out of business make you want to cheer–and they restore your faith in humanity. Carol Bradley does a great service to dogs by telling this story.”
—Dean Koontz, New York Times best-selling author
“Carol Bradley seizes a national moment in Saving Gracie. With deft investigative skill and a loving heart, she tells the story of Gracie, and her sojourn from a puppy mill. If we are judged as human beings by the way we treat our animals, this is an eye-opening account, direct and informative, one you will not be able to put down.”
—Adriana Trigiani, New York Times best-selling author of Very Valentine and Big Stone Gap
“Saving Gracie is one of those rare books that will at once disturb, inspire, and move you to action. Read this outstanding book about the enduring strength of the human-animal bond and share it widely. It is that important.”
—Marc Bekoff, author of The Emotional Lives of Animals, Wild Justice, and The Animal Manifesto
“In this book about the best and the worst of human behavior, we see that the best in both humans and canines prevails. Bradley’s cast of angels will fill your heart with joy and gratitude that such souls exist. This book is essential reading for anyone who loves dogs and thinks justice matters.”
—Susan Richards, author of the New York Times best-seller Chosen by A Horse
“Saving Gracie is a story told with verve, with compassion, with style, and with marvelous intelligence. Any dog lover will be happy to add this to the growing list of wonderful books about dogs.”
—Jeffrey Moussaieff Masson, author of Dogs Never Lie about Love and The Face on Your Plate