I Promise You – An Introduction to Living the Animal-Human Bond, written with illustrations by Edwin Fontanez,
The idea for this book grew from an unspeakable tragedy that took place in the town of Barceloneta, Puerto Rico.
On October 8, 2007, almost 100 cats and dogs were seized from their homes. Some were literally snatched out of the arms of their owners. These animals were thrown off of a bridge a short time later, to their deaths.
All of these animals were killed in the name of “animal control.”
And, from that incident, Fontanez wrote this book to encourage children and people of all ages to explore the dynamics between animals and people, focusing on the understanding that animals have a right to ethical, humane treatment. Always.
There is, writes Fontanez, an “…unspoken but implicit promise we make when we bring a pet into our homes and the responsibilities we take when we accept it as a member of our family.” Part of how we keep that promise is by fighting against pet overpopulation, pet abandonment and animal abuse. All topics that Fontainez writes about.
Fontanez divides his book into eight, short, easy-to-read chapters with black and white illustrations and inspirational quotes. He starts with an overview of practical things to consider before bringing a pet home, asking that his readers honestly evaluate whether they can financially afford to have a pet.
An animal-lover, Fontanez shares personal stories of the animals he has loved, including a St Bernard named “Eny.” Fontanez falls in love with someone else’s St Bernard and without stopping to think about whether this breed was really suitable for him, he has a St Bernard puppy shipped to Puerto Rico.
Such a lovable breed and completely impractical for island life. Fontanez doesn’t shy away from admitting this as he describes what it was like to live with this large dog. His point, as he tells this story, is to urge his readers to do their research before choosing a pet.
An older (now wiser) Fontanez explains one of the reasons he chose to adopt a cat. “While reading this book, you may notice that my focus leans slightly more towards cats. Make no mistake, there is no bias of any kind. I love dogs equally! But there is a very strong reason for my drawing attention to cats. Even after all these years, cats are proportionally a bigger target of abuse than dogs.”
A fact that I didn’t know and a good example of how Fontanez weaves factual information about animal abuse into his larger message.
Chapters 3-5 examine the more sobering topics of animal abuse, how animals become homeless and the basics of understanding animal behavior. If you are a parent reading this book with your children, or a classroom teacher reading this book to your students, you’ll find that Chapter 8 – the Home and Classroom Discussion and Resource Guide – provides additional material that can supplement the conversations you have with your children or your students.
As we begin the holiday season, I can think of no more appropriate gift for children, their families and their teachers, than I Promise You, by Edwin Fontanez. The message this book brings into homes and classrooms is one of hope that together, we can eradicate animal abuse and pet abandonment, starting with understanding and taking simple steps.
If we start with our children – who are our youngest and most impressionable audience and who represent the next generation of pet owners – we are taking the first step to a more compassionate, educated society when it comes to living in harmony with animals. And, you have my promise on that!
I Promise You, written with illustrations by Edwin Fontanez, is available in both English and Spanish. Additional information about the book and the author are available by visiting the author’s web site, I Promise You.