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Just a portion of the notes I took researching this story.

ABOUT THIS BOOK

On April 14, 2010, the federal government raided Douglas Spink’s home. At the time, he was living 20 miles from my home in northern Washington State. Mr. Spink’s animals were seized and taken to Whatcom Humane Society, the local agency tasked by the government. I’ve written for—and about—Whatcom Humane Society for more than a decade.

Early on, I wasn’t sure I was going to write anything about Mr. Spink or zoophilia. Frankly, I didn’t know what to write. The story was complex. Shadowy. Characterized by a maze of conflicting so-called facts and perspectives. But when the facts I was digging up didn’t corroborate with what was being presented by the media, I decided to keep investigating anyway, with no idea where it would lead.

Initially, Doug Spink wasn’t optimistic about my interest in his personal story. He told me he didn’t need or want a “Kardashian-style” look at his life. He made it clear he wasn’t willing to be a spokesman for other zoos, either. Mr. Spink’s attorney, Howard Phillips, also wasn’t thrilled by the possibility of this book. When we met in 2010, he told me flat-out he had classified me as “the enemy,” adding that he would be relaying that exact message to his client. The media had already savaged Mr. Spink, and Mr. Phillips was being prudently cautious about publicity.

Still, despite the roadblocks, our communications persisted. At first halting over the prison email system, then eventually by telephone and in-person interviews following Mr. Spink’s release from federal custody. For my part, I didn’t think it was fair to publish a story about Mr. Spink until he was released from prison, at which time he would have the chance to respond fully to the allegations being made. And only then would he have the opportunity to produce documentation to support his statements.

Eight years after the raid, I’ve finally finished writing the story, in the form of a book titled Uniquely Dangerous.

Along the way, the book has gathered its own momentum. The project has expanded in scope. Many more zoos have approached me. Some know Doug Spink personally, but many don’t. The majority of zoos simply want to share general information about zoophilia, and to tell their personal stories. That unexpected outpouring has led me to create another section of the work, a compendium that pulls together individual stories about zoos.

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