I read Saving Simon: How a Rescue Donkey Taught Me the Meaning of Compassion in one day. I wasn't able to put it down for very long.
The first few pages are intense and very hard to get through; the rescue scene is so raw and horrific that you want to turn away.
But please don't. You need to experience that part before you can understand all that follows...and how the author's rescue of Simon made him a better man...a far more compassionate and understanding man than ever before.
Like the author, Jon Katz, I have compassion for all beings--human and animal. I know that every sad story has another sad story behind it that--although it does not ever 'forgive' neglect or abuse--certainly makes it understandable to the reader so that the perpetrator (in this case, a farmer who is losing his farm to crushing debt) comes across less as a sadistic demon and as someone more to be pitied than abhorred.
Katz doesn't pardon the farmer; he merely seeks to understand and dial down his initial aversion, and disgust, toward him. The farmer's young son did his best to keep Simon alive--which is what saved him long enough to be rescued--and called animal welfare when he realized that his efforts would not be enough. The boy calls his father "a good man" who lost control of his ability to care for his farm, his family and his animals.
Like Jon Katz, I, too, have felt violated when individuals from the s0-called "humane movement" turn out to be judge, jury and executioner before the full facts are known, finding egregious fault every time an animal ends up in dire circumstances.
Stuff happens that shouldn't, stuff that is quite often beyond one's control. Thank God for animal rescue individuals and organizations, people who step in and serve when they can.
Katz' book is mostly heartwarming and engaging--riveting, even. Although it covers the millennia-old history of the mutually-beneficial (and sometimes not, for the animal) human-donkey association and explains what a donkey is, these lessons are woven seamlessly into the narrative; they don't jump out at you and stop the story from proceeding, or divert your heart from its chosen path.
Jon Katz is a very good writer. (He has won awards, so this isn't just my opinion.) I felt as if I got to know Simon and Jon both intimately. I highly recommend this book to anyone who loves animals.
But just a heads up: it will make you want a donkey!!