WCU professor’s book on animal issues grabs national attention

Is it okay to kill animals just because they taste good? Why is it okay to feed a mouse but not a kitten to your pet boa constrictor? These are some of the questions Dr. Harold Herzog, a professor of psychology at Western Carolina University, answered in his book “Some We Love, Some We Hate, Some We Eat: Why It’s So Hard to Think Straight About Animals,” that has attracted national attention since its release on Sept. 7.

In the book, Herzog explores how people address the range of questions and moral issues linked to their relationships with animals. After researching about ethics involved with animals, Herzog decided that he wanted to write a book that would break down animal issues in a way that the typical everyday person would find interesting. The many reactions he received from his published blogs and columns also contributed to his decision to compose a book.

Little did Herzog know just how much attention his book would receive. The week of the release date, Herzog recalls talking to People magazine, and being interviewed on numerous radio shows. Even now, weeks later, he is still getting requests and feedback.

“It’s been overwhelming,” said Herzog. “Every day I get feedback. Some people hate the book, but I think people who hate it are serious animal extremists. Most animal protection agencies love it.”

It took Herzog four years to complete the book, two years of which were spent writing the proposal. Working with his literary agent, Herzog managed to accumulate lots of interest in his book which he wrote after 14 months. All the while, WCU was extremely supportive in accommodating Herzog and his research, and even allotted him a semester off from teaching classes.

Herzog was given a special place in Hunter Library where he could work without disruption on his extensive research. He talked about his research for the book, which included a lot of in depth reading about animals and ethics, as well as talking with students at WCU about animal issues. Herzog even went so far as to talk to circus trainers and animal rights activists at rallies to get their dynamic views on animals as well.

“It turns out that the real audience of my book is the people who are conflicted about animals,” said Herzog. “And I’ve discovered that most people today are conflicted.”

Herzog’s findings may surprise some readers. Among his favorites were ideas that challenged what people think about animals today. In his research he found that most people who are “vegetarians” actually eat meat. He also found that vegetarianism is tied to certain eating disorders in women.

Despite some assumptions, Herzog found research that proved that most children who abuse or harm animals do not grow up to be mean or evil adults. Overall, he found that people’s attitudes are so inconsistent with animals and many people feel a need to “protect” animals. The point Herzog was trying to make with his book was, “how can people want to protect animals and yet still eat them every day?”

The book, which was published by HarperCollins Publishers, has been called “educational and enjoyable” and Publishers Weekly described it as an “intelligent and amusing book” that invites readers to think deeply. Herzog’s book is currently available at the local bookstore in downtown Sylva, City Lights.