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Most Americans have a basic sense of compassion for animals today, yet they may not realize that incredible cruelty to animals was commonplace just a century ago. Beautiful Joe: The Autobiography of a Dog, details a dog's horrible treatment by a cruel milkman and his eventual rescue by a kind family. Marshall "Margaret" Saunders met Beautiful Joe on Lake Huron and spent six months with the dog and his family. His "autobiography" published in 1894, is a fictionalized presentation of a true story, and was the first novel by this Canadian writer. Beautiful Joe gained tremendous popularity, and contributed significantly to changing public attitudes about the treatment of animals.