Illustrator Berkeley Breathed Teams Up with The HSUS to Promote Adoptions

The Humane Society of the United States
Tuesday, 11 November 2003

When fans of the comic strip "Bloom County" and its illustrator, Berkeley Breathed, line up for a copy of his latest book, "Flawed Dogs," (Little, Brown and Company; 0-316-71359-7; $18.95) they're getting more than a good laugh. They're getting a reminder that millions of dogs are waiting at animal shelters for loving homes.

In addition to penning the strikingly illustrated collection featured in the book, Breathed also worked with The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) to produce an exclusive poster that features illustrations from the book and promotes adoptions. Book publisher Little, Brown and Company produced the poster, which The HSUS has provided to animal shelters nationwide.

The book will no doubt be another best seller for Breathed, and the poster is winning rave reviews from shelters around the country, according to Stephanie Shain, director of companion animal outreach for The HSUS, who said the shelters appreciate the opportunity to use Breathed's unique humor to draw people to a serious message.

"The pages of 'Flawed Dogs' are filled with the lushly illustrated images of dogs who are the 'leftovers' at a fictional animal shelter," said Shain. "At first glance, you might think it's their unusual markings and unorthodox body shapes that are their flaws. But like all the wonderful animals at shelters, their only real flaw is not yet being in a loving home."

In a video interview for The HSUS's website, Breathed said that from the beginning, the question was, "How can I take the issue and make it funny? And it's not a funny issue so it's a bit of a challenge," he observed. "How can I take shelter dogs and make an amusing, humorous book out of the issue without diminishing the importance and the essence of the whole story?" According to Shain, he succeeded, and the "Flawed Dogs" book and poster are a humorous, yet poignant plea for would-be pet owners to realize that the perfect dog (or cat) is waiting to be noticed at their local animal shelter.

Speaking of cats, will there be a "Flawed Cats" book? Breathed says probably not. But not because cats aren't worthy of the same attention and consideration. According to Breathed, it's just that from an artist's point of view, "cats don't have enough variation in body shape to be able to create the same sort of imaginative images as in 'Flawed Dogs.'" He adds that there is a special message in the book for cat owners, however, and points to the illustration and story of "Spanks," an unusual "dog" who just may be wearing a mask and admits to a fondness for tuna.

At this time, because of limited quantities, the poster is available free of charge only to animal shelters and bookstores.

The HSUS is the nation's largest animal protection organization with over seven million members and constituents. The HSUS is a mainstream voice for animals, with active programs in companion animals, wildlife, animals in research and farm animals and sustainable agriculture. For nearly 50 years, The HSUS protects all animals through legislation, litigation, investigation, education, advocacy and field work. The non-profit organization is based in Washington, DC and has 10 regional offices across the country.

For more information, or to contact The Humane Society of the United States, see their website at: www.hsus.org

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