Reviewed by Jack Magnus for Readers' Favorite
Uniquely Dangerous: A True Story is a nonfiction book written by Carreen Maloney. On April 14, 2010, Douglas Spink woke to the commotion raised by a 19-member strong SWAT team as they pounded on the door of his small cabin. His Reese Hill location should have been impregnable, and he was quite careful in timing the rare occasions when he went out to get provisions for himself, his dogs and his horses. Doug, who had been a successful tech entrepreneur and stud farm owner, was on probation for having participated as a mule in a drug smuggling ring. His Reese Hill property, a remote 22-acre spread, was tucked away in Northern Washington, just a few miles from the Canadian border. When he opened the door, he found thirty law enforcement officers waiting for him. Some were from the US Probation Department; others the FBI and US Marshals Service, still others were local: the Whatcom County Sheriff’s Office and the Whatcom Humane Society. Maloney first learned of Doug Spink’s arrest through text messages she had received from the Whatcom Humane Society, where she was well-known as a volunteer writer for their animal rescue efforts. She had been advised that a number of animals had been taken from a “bestiality farm.” Maloney had no idea what those texts actually meant. Were those animals being tortured? Were they sex slaves? As someone who loved animals, she couldn’t help but worry; as a reporter, she wanted to learn more.
I’m also an animal lover and am privileged to have two wonderful dogs as animal companions. And while I’ve encountered some poorly reported articles online about drunks attacking their neighbors’ dogs, I knew next to nothing about zoophilia, and those people whose sexual attraction is to animals. Uniquely Dangerous: A True Story was enlightening, disturbing and ultimately thought-provoking. Her dedication to “the animals who are killed by humans when their secret lives with zoos are discovered” resonated quite strongly with me. Maloney’s story flows swiftly and fluently. Her writing kept me enthralled as she handled the thorny issues surrounding the taboo of zoophilia and the irrational, culturally ingrained responses of society.
Maloney addresses zoophilia in a compassionate and professional way, sharing interviews with other zoos as well as those details Doug Spink disclosed during their interviews. Like her, I was infinitely saddened when Doug’s dogs all seemed destined to first be separated from him and then killed, and had trouble understanding how the anger and ignorance expressed toward Spink even reached out to Maloney for her role in interviewing the man. Yes, zoophilia is something most people are totally ignorant about and taboos about it are strongly etched into our culture, despite the mythological traditions and the continuing popularity of the story, Beauty and the Beast. Whatever one’s feeling about zoophilia, Doug Spink’s story is a cautionary tale that shows all too clearly how easily one can lose one’s constitutional protections once one has crossed over that all-too-illusory line. I began reading this book filled with preconceived and sensationalistic notions about people who had sexual relations with animals and finished having learned more about what it is to be human. Uniquely Dangerous is most highly recommended.