ABOUT THIS BOOK:
A Work of Investigative JournalismOn April 14, 2010, the federal government raided Douglas Spink’s home. At the time, he was living 20 miles from my home in northern Washington State. Mr. Spink’s animals were seized and taken to Whatcom Humane Society, the local agency tasked by the government. I’ve written for—and about—Whatcom Humane Society for more than a decade.
Early on, I wasn’t sure I was going to write anything about Mr. Spink or zoophilia. Frankly, I didn’t know what to write. The story was complex. Shadowy. Characterized by a maze of conflicting so-called facts and perspectives. But when the facts I was digging up didn’t corroborate with what was being presented by the media, I decided to keep investigating anyway, with no idea where it would lead.
Initially, Doug Spink wasn’t optimistic about my interest in his personal story. He told me he didn’t need or want a “Kardashian-style” look at his life. He made it clear he wasn’t willing to be a spokesman for other zoos, either. Mr. Spink’s attorney, Howard Phillips, also wasn’t thrilled by the possibility of this book. When we met in 2010, he told me flat-out he had classified me as “the enemy,” adding that he would be relaying that exact message to his client. The media had already savaged Mr. Spink, and Mr. Phillips was being prudently cautious about publicity.
Still, despite the roadblocks, our communications persisted. At first halting over the prison email system, then eventually by telephone and in-person interviews following Mr. Spink’s release from federal custody. For my part, I didn’t think it was fair to publish a story about Mr. Spink until he was released from prison, at which time he would have the chance to respond fully to the allegations being made. And only then would he have the opportunity to produce documentation to support his statements.
Eight years after the raid, I’ve finally finished writing the story, in the form of a book titled Uniquely Dangerous.
Along the way, the book has gathered its own momentum. The project has expanded in scope. Many more zoos have approached me. Some know Doug Spink personally, but many don’t. The majority of zoos simply want to share general information about zoophilia, and to tell their personal stories. That unexpected outpouring has led me to create another section of the work, a compendium that pulls together individual stories about zoos.
Some zoos are happy I am writing about zoophilia, while others would prefer I just shut up and went away. To let sleeping dogs lie.
MEDIA & REVIEWSRadio appearance on WWL’s Scoot show in New Orleans
Book review by Readers’ Favorite book awards
Book review by Florida journalist Malcolm J. Brenner
Book review by Peter Ladner, Vancouver journalist, founder of Business in Vancouver newspaper, and author of The Urban Food Revolution: Changing the Way We Feed Cities
This book is a fearless investigation into a personal tragedy that grew out of our society’s inability to be honest about our complex relationships with animals. If someone loves them in an unorthodox way, it’s cruelty. If someone castrates, brands, skins, confines or kills them, it’s just ordinary behavior. The glaring injustices in Doug Spink’s story force the reader to examine society’s ability to ignore human and constitutional rights when emotional revulsion takes over. It’s an important story, written with clarity, professionalism and meticulous attention to detail. And it reads like a crime thriller.
Book review by Margo Goodhand, Canadian journalist and author of Runaway Wives and Rogue Feminists
This is a fascinating read. The topic is not for the faint of heart. The protagonist is repellent. But the reader is compelled—just as the author is during her years of meticulous research—down a rabbit hole into the dark and disturbing world of zoophiles.
Who is right and who is wrong; how is this behaviour normalized online; how is the community growing despite overwhelming societal sanctions?
Amidst growing tension between the animal-loving journalist and the charismatic social outcast who demands she tell his story, Maloney finds herself swept up—and shut down—in a conspiracy of silence on the issue. Lucky for us, she perseveres.
Book review by Gordon Sinclair Jr., former Winnipeg Free Press columnist and author of Cowboys and Indians: The Shooting of J.J. Harper
Carreen Maloney honored the best of journalistic principles and ideals in the researching and writing of a subject most others in her craft simply dismiss with a sensational headline and a titillating lead, if that.
She pursued the story of Douglas Spink, an outspoken zoophile and, as it turned out, a complex, contradictory character with a brilliant mind. But she did that without judgment, relying instead on an open mind, an investigative zeal and, almost before she began, a sense of a story that needed to be told. All of which leads in the end to something Maloney never imagined in the beginning: a groundbreaking study by a psychologist that underscored the importance of Maloney’s mission to separate ignorance and bias from fact and reason.