When author Kim Kavin holds promotional events for her new book, Little Boy Blue, it's not unusual for her to meet people who have NO intention of reading it. "They tell me they don't want to read another book where the dog dies in the end," Kavin says, laughing. In fact, her dog, a handsome brindle rescue named Blue, is alive and well when the book ends, and is still enjoying life at Kavin's home in New Jersey.
Little Boy Blue isn't one of the heart-warming, tear-jerking dog stories that we've grown accustomed to reading in the years since Marley & Me became a bestseller. Kavin, an award-winning journalist, had a different goal in mind: She wanted to find out where her dog came from and what was going on inside America's tax-funded animal shelters.
The results of her investigation are both chilling and encouraging. After adopting Blue through Petfinder.com, Kavin traces the dog's route back to a rural shelter in Person County, North Carolina, where more than 90 percent of the dogs are killed in a gas chamber. Blue was just one day away from being euthanized when he was rescued by one of the grassroots groups that is working hard to limit the terrible death toll in shelters.
Little Boy Blue has generated a strong response since its release last month, so we asked Kavin to tell us about some of the results. Here's her report:
Top 10 Things that Have Happened Since Little Boy Blue was Published
by Kim Kavin
1. Thanks to media attention and public outcry, the taxpayer-funded shelter where Blue was rescued in North Carolina finally agreed to get rid of its gas chamber—forever.
2. Blue got to appear on CNN, which meant riding in his first elevator, looking out his first skyscraper window in New York City, and sitting in his first director’s chair. He was “a natural on camera,” according to Emmy Award-winning CNN host Randi Kaye.
3. Taxpayer-funded shelters across America killed as many as 840,000 more homeless animals, at a rate of as many as 14,000 per day, with most of them being dogs and cats.
4. The Petfinder.com website increased to nearly 14,000 rescue groups uploading photos of adoptable animals pulled from the shelters by unpaid volunteers. That’s about the same number of rescue groups as there are McDonald’s restaurants in the entire United States.
5. High-school journalism students in the North Carolina town where Blue was rescued created a statewide project to report on all gas-chamber shelters, as well as a local project to help their own community’s shelter get more media attention for homeless dogs. They have also arranged to interview me via Skype from New Jersey later this month.
6. Blue went for his first boat ride, during the Labor Day weekend on Lake Wallenpaupack in the Poconos. He absolutely loved the feeling of the wind whipping through his ears, and he was a good boy the entire time. He didn’t even try to jump overboard and chase his Mom when she went wakeboarding.
7. Little Boy Blue spent several days as the No. 1 best-selling pet book on Amazon.com and remains among the Top 5 best-selling pet books in the nation, according to Bookscan. It even out-sold several Dog Whisperer titles for a few days.
8. In was invited to Washington, D.C., where I will meet with U.S. Congressman Jim Moran (D-Virginia). Moran wrote a bill that is currently before Congress, urging every state to ban the use of gas chambers in animal shelters.
9. Zuke’s agreed to sponsor Little Boy Blue book signings with free packets of sample treats that are made in the USA from all-natural ingredients.
10. Blue got a sister. She is the 19th foster dog that has been in his home since Izzy and Summer, the first two who are featured in Little Boy Blue. Ginger had five tries at being adopted, but she’s a nervous puppy who always wanted to come back where she felt safe. Ginger is now seven months old, and she and Blue are best pals. They are going to have many happy years together.