The Dogs of Avalon
The Race to Save Animals in Peril

After adopting an Irish sight hound, Laura Schenone discovers a remarkable and little-known fight to gain justice for dogs and for all animals.

Greyhounds, bred to be the fastest dogs on earth, are beautiful, gentle, and astonishing creatures. Yet for decades, countless numbers of them have been abandoned and destroyed every year once they can no longer compete and win.

The Dogs of Avalon introduces us to the strong-willed Marion Fitzgibbon, born in rural Ireland, where animals are valued for their utility. But Fitzgibbon believes suffering is felt by all creatures and champions the cause of strays, baffling those around her—including her family—as she, and a group of local women rescue any animal in need, taking on increasingly risky missions.

When Fitzgibbon becomes head of the Irish Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals and takes on the cause of the greyhound, she faces an entrenched racing industry protected by money and power. She joins forces with an American greyhound activist, a foxhunter’s wife, a British Lady, and an influential German animal rescuer to create an international network to find these animals homes, confront the racing industry, and provide safe haven where animals can live in peace.

The Dogs of Avalon brings forward the people on the other side of the track—Irish Travellers (a people whose Celtic history goes back centuries), dogmen who hope to win big—plus a host of animals on two continents—circus tigers in Ireland, wild monkeys in the Yucatan, dolphins in a marine animal park in Florida, and one very special Irish sight hound in New Jersey named Lily.

In this potent David and Goliath story, Schenone’s journey helps us understand our deep connection to animals and gives us inspiration in the form of the unforgettable Marion Fitzgibbon, who grapples with compassion and activism and shows the difference we are all capable of making in the world.

Greyhound galloping slow motion 1000 frames per second, taken on Te Henga beach, NZ. (With thanks to Georgina Milne and Roman.)

The letter that brought me Lily. Warning: upsetting images.

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Reviews for The Dogs of Avalon

The Bark Magazine calls The Dogs of Avalon “A work that merits high praise and appreciation.”

“Animal lovers will find it an eye-opening must-read.”

“…Schenone smoothly interweaves her personal story with a history of the breed…. An engrossing account of greyhounds, their owners, and their champions.”

“A gem. The Dogs of Avalon is a life enriching game-changer that deserves a broad global audience. It is that good.”

— Marc Bekoff, author of The Animals’ Agenda

“Schenone movingly describes the pioneers who took care of ‘surplus’ greyhounds, and how the world has finally come to its senses regarding how we treat these sensitive animals.”

— Frans de Waal, author of Are We Smart Enough to Know How Smart Animals Are?

“A beautifully written story of the people who devote their lives to saving greyhounds in the most unlikely of places. It is a testament to the bonds that can form between dog and human.”

— Gregory Berns, author of How Dogs Love Us

“Like a greyhound streaking after her prey, Laura Schenone beautifully and inexorably pursues the story of the singular Marion Fitzgibbon and her crusade to rescue Ireland’s greyhounds from corporate cruelty. . . . The Dogs of Avalon is about dogs, yes, but it is also an exquisite exploration of empathy, love and the meaning of life.”

— Dale Russakoff, author of The Prize

“A self-confessed non-animal lover when her journey begins, Schenone writes with sensitivity and genuine curiosity about the world of greyhounds—inspired by her own beloved amber-eyed rescue dog, Lily. An extraordinary story, told with compassion and grace.”

— Christina Baker Kline, New York Times bestselling author of Orphan Train and A Piece of the World

“If you have ever wondered what motivates those who risk their lives to save animals and why their work matters, this book answers those questions. It may even convince you that we become greater human beings when we show compassion to all the earth’s creatures. An incredible journey chronicled with journalistic integrity that will resonate with anyone who has ever loved an animal.”

— Allen and Linda Anderson, founders of Angel Animals Network and New York Times bestselling authors of A Dog Named Leaf

“An absolutely stunning book and an astonishing work of reporting. I love the complete honesty that suffuses it.”

— Jeffrey Moussaieff Masson, author of The Dog Who Couldn’t Stop Loving

“In Dogs of Avalon, author Laura Schenone discovers the unique world and dedicated personalities of international greyhound rescues and adoptions. And it's that passionate world that allows Laura to warmly and philosophically explore the bigger world of animals in peril. A wonderful book!”

— Steven D. Wolf, Comet’s Tale: How the Dog I Rescued Saved My Life

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