~ The "Wild About Animals Radio Show" is the REAL stock and bond market. Texas veterinarian Dr Bruce provides and promotes horse sense not nonsense when it comes to events, policies, products, procedures and opportunities affecting animals and the people who care for them. Co-host Emmi provides questions and commentary from the heart of a passionate and compassionate animal owner.
The first of a new year brings fresh resolve, change and inspiration for something new, different and BETTER. One of the things I really like about adding years to my own personal history book is the gain in appreciation I develop for the experiences I have been blessed to enjoy. Over the years, I’ve learned there are no bad experiences…either enjoy and appreciate the experience, or learn from it and avoid repeating the experience in the future. The intent of today’s show was to share some research which evolved from the troubling experience of a dog owner who had the unfortunate experience of having her dog being bitten by a rabid animal combatant. The dog had been previously vaccinated for rabies and so with a booster and at-home observation, chances of survival would be extremely good. Problem was, the dog’s rabies vaccine was due to be boostered ten days prior to presentation. Game changer. Now the dog had to be treated as an unvaccinated dog and the owner was faced with the choice of either euthanizing the dog or paying for six months of monitored confinement. Due to economic constraints, the owner chose plan A, and the dog lost his life. I would imagine that the owner felt terrible in that not only had she had to make the decision to euthanize her dog, but she had to do it as a result of having missed her dog’s rabies BOOSTER by less than two weeks! Serious consequences for a seemingly minor oversight, but that is the protocol set forth in the rabies compendium, presently. However, Michael Moore, DVM and colleagues at the Kansas State Veterinary Diagnostic Lab may have produced some research to change things. Dr Moore decided to investigate how the anamnestic response (the response to a booster vaccine) to a rabies vaccine post exposure differed in dogs and cats who were under a year out from their previous vaccine, and those who were weeks to months overdue for their scheduled booster prior to exposure. What he found may shake up the rabies response protocol, save more dogs and cats from euthanasia, and save pet owners from difficult and unexpected decisions.
Speaking of “shaking up”, we experience an earthquake tremor about ten minutes into the show! I’ve never experienced a tremor before, but it served as a great reminder to me to stay present, enjoy every moment and don’t worry a bit about those things out of your control. Thankfully the earth didn’t split open and I think we all recovered pretty darn quick in the studio. So a little shake, rattle and roll to kick off 2015! I’m ready! Full speed ahead! Happy New Year!
As 2014 winds down, it’s fun to reflect on the year that was. The horse racing world looked to have the second coming of Big Red as the California bred California Chrome threatened to break the Triple Crown drought, but fell just short in the Belmont. Will 2015 be the year a Triple Crown champion emerges? And how about the cat that chased the dog away from the little boy? Then there was the dog that had over 40 socks removed from his innards, a parrot that returned home after four years, speaking Spanish. The National Dog Show was front and center on Thanksgiving, and the World Equestrian Games in Normandy, France brought more medals back to Aubrey, TX thanks to Tom and Mandy McCutcheon and the US Reining Team.
And in a story we continue to follow, the New York City carriage drivers are still able to work, and the mayor’s initiative to ban the carriages and reassign the drivers to electric cars, and the opposition in the city and state governments are beginning to voice their disapproval. In Venezuela, on the other hand, the government has created a shortage of necessities, even milk, which led to the closing of the Coromoto ice cream store which is in the Guinness Book of World Records for its 863 flavors. Thankfully, we in the USA bring 2014 to a close as a democracy still, where we can enjoy our animals, life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness…and ice cream. Happy New Year!
Not a misspelling! My friend Bob Moore joins us today with his amazing story. Bob has logged over 23,000,000 (yes, over 23 million) steps since 2006. In his mid 70’s, Bob confesses he moved to East Texas to die, and instead, he found life. Two parts of his new lease on life are the Vemma nutrition products, especially the Verve energy drink (www.drbruce.vemma.com), and his dog Daisy. Bob and Daisy walk and walk and walk. Mix with water and a low carb diet and Bob reduced his weight by over 40 lbs and has a laboratory profile found in fit forty year olds! He has become the poster “child” for senior wellness in East Texas and is just a great guy who I am really glad I’ve had some time to get to know!
So as we approach Christmas time, consider TIME. You can give your dog all the treats and goofy costumes in the world, but man, doesn’t he like that time with you more than anything? So take the guy on a walk, Be like Bob! Your horse, mine all come to the fence for a pet on the nose or neck. They too appreciate a little time. Now, a case I saw in the month of December made me think one gift most horses would appreciate would be a good dental exam and care as indicated. The poor old mare I saw was in bad shape and had been for several months as the owner sought advice and help from feed store employees and kept switching feeds to find a magic formula. Fact was, her dentition was preventing adequate mastication and an infected molar was leading to her progressive demise. And then there’s the cat. Well, cats appreciate a little time with them also, when it’s their idea. Maybe a scratching post would be a good choice for the cat in your life, and a little time, when they decide it’s time.
I think one of the things that separates our animal friends from our human friends (and family) is time. While animals definitely appreciate a schedule and routine, they make no demands (well, accept that cat, they have their ways). They appreciate when we give them our time, and with few exceptions, they reward our time with performance. Have you ever seen the retriever give it up before the thrower? A good horse responds by going and going and going, and what beats the purr and kneading of the good kitty cat who finally decides, it’s time? So as we enjoy Christmas time, perhaps we can be IN JOY more by being appreciative of the time people choose to spend with us. But if that doesn’t work, pee on the carpet and see if that doesn’t get you a little more time and attention. Merry Christmas! And thank you for your time!
I’m in the process of reading Ayn Rand’s classic Atlas Shrugged. As I progress through the pages penned in the 1940’s, I am astounded at the parallelisms I can draw with the fictional society created by Ms. Rand and the policy approaches and philosophies attempting to be instituted at many levels of government in the United States today. As a horse doctor, issues affecting horses and maybe more importantly, the horse industry, tend to catch my attention a little more than some other issues. One issue in particular has been New York City’s mayor Bill Deblasio’s insistent on banning carriage horses in the city, on the grounds that pulling a carriage is abusive to the horses involved, in spite of evidence and opinion to the contrary from multiple veterinarians and other equine professionals. It seems one of two explanations for the mayor’s plan exist. First is the explanation that this is simply political maneuvering to evacuate some very valuable NYC real estate which could be gobbled up and cashed in on by some of the mayor’s buddies. Second is that the left leaning liberal mayor is allowing his feelings to create policy rather than rational analysis and heeding of advice and evidence brought forth by experts. Whatever the explanation, each of these two reasons are mirrors of the governing which takes place in Atlas Shrugged and ultimately leads to the demise of both the people and the looter government officials who govern via feelings and self interest rather than facilitating individual and collective growth of the nation through policies encouraging individual enterprise and development by the people. Eh, just a fictional writing, can’t happen in real life. Wrong.
A prime example of governing on feelings vs rational is the decision once again to essentially ban horse slaughter and processing for meat by not providing funds for the inspection of meat for European export and consumption. The ban on horse processing in the United States has resulted in horses intended for processing to be trailered to Mexico and Canada to meet their fate. Now, the European Union has banned importation of horse meat processed in Mexico due to several violations of EU standards ranging from humane treatment of horses to traceability to outdated and inadequate first aid kits. So will loss of the EU market spare more horses? According to one industry expert, and it only seems rational, that the Russian and Chinese markets will easily absorb the volume of EU meat, likely for a cheaper price and undoubtedly with less stringent attention to the care of the product pre or post processing. So, now while officials and horse processing opponents can “feel good” about not processing horses on American soil, these same horses are being subjected to a more dismal ending to wind up as food product for Russia or China, and isn’t America fixing to begin importing chicken from China? But nobody ever said horse meat tastes like chicken, have they?
I don’t like the idea of horse slaughter, cannot imagine ever sending one of my horses to that ending for a few bucks. However, I can remove my feelings from the situation enough to realize it may be the option acceptable to someone else, may provide a business opportunity or a job for someone else. Processing horses in America may lead to development of a more humane method of termination, may lead to a healthier product for a European or Russian or Chinese, and maybe we can rest assured that there ain’t nothin’ in our chicken, but chicken. In spite of my feelings towards processing horses for food, I can rationalize the industry.
At an annual meeting of the American Association of Equine Practitioneers (AAEP), not too manmy years ago, a veterinary speaker involved in the legislative process spoke about his experience discussing the horse processing laws with a Congressman. The veterinarian presented the facts of what was happening to horses sent to slaughter outside of the United States, the likelihood of dramatic increases in the number of unwanted horses, and the negative effects of the slaughter ban on the equine industry. He then related how the Congressman looked him in the eye and said he saw his point, and personally agreed with him. However, he next said that when he has hundreds of constituents calling his office to voice their opposition to horse slaughter while very few voice support, he would be voting to continue the ban, after all, it’s his desire to be re-elected.
So we are left with a choice. it is either necessary for us as citizens to be a voice of reason more vocally to our elected officials, or to elect leadership with enough backbone to make rational, economically sound and rational decisions in spite of what the verbose feel good movement may advocate. There is plenty to feel good about when we can maintain industry, jobs and the inevitable opportunities which arise to improve the faults which exist in any industry or business.
I had a fantastic trip to Salt Lake City for the American Association of Equine Practitioners Annual meeting! I am not much of one for getting out of town, takes a lot to schedule animal care and clinic duties, and was not terribly enthusiastic about attending the meeting. However, once in SLC, I turned on my happy attitude and was really appreciative of the beauty of the city at Christmas time, the fantastic weather we had while there, and enjoyed the heck out of visiting with friends of many years (one of the many advantages of aging os more great memories of great times with great friends!). Oh, and the continuing education meetings were informative and encouraging. Lots of interesting products and procedures becoming available to help people and their horses.
Speaking of friends, have you heard the cost of boarding Bentley, the pet dog belonging to nurse Nina Pham who was exposed to Ebola in Dallas? Regardless the cost, I bet knowing Bentley was being cared for was a tremendous boost to Nina as she fought through her Ebola experience. Kudos to Dallas for doing a great job in listening to experts and allowing the reunion of Miss Pham and Bentley!
We gathered at my parents’ home for Thanksgiving Day. As we are getting things ready and snacking around, my beautiful and talented baby sister rushes to the TV and. being that we are an historically football watching family, I assumed she was turning over to one of the games. Nope! Wrong! What’s this? The National Dog Show, and we ALL completely shut down, tuned-in and made our picks for Best in Show. I was fascinated that my ultra-busy, high achieving, mother of two teenage girls, MD 40 something sister NEW that the National Dog Show was being televised at prime turkey time Thanksgiving Day. How many other people new that? How many others tuned in? And then, after football, Fox has an animal adoption special Thanksgiving night!
The place and perception of animals in our society is transforming rapidly. As animals emerge from an economic asset to an emotional asset, unique opportunities appear to provide products and services previously unimaginable. How you spend your money on your animals is up to you, at least until the government mandates health care for hamsters, and it’s important YOU be happy with YOUR choices. Opinions are so strong on care and treatment, feeding, training, just every facet of the animal world seems to be one that elicits strong emotions one way or another. I am a scientist, pragmatic and somewhat skeptical. I believe in gathering data as objectively as possible and making decisions, and recommendations, based upon my interpretations of well done research. Drugs and devices get approval or rejection, for the most part, in much the same way, but research is being challenged and augmented by evidence. While reported research can certainly be tainted and far from flawless, it is generally systematically reviewed and critiqued and accepted or rejected by a group of unemotional and critical thinkers. Evidence can be held to the same or similar standards when analyzed with respect to known physical laws and processes which allow for pragmatic critique of the evidence presented. With the plethora of avenues for dissemination of information available today, it becomes even more incumbent upon each of us to take a critical look at reports on materials and methods and use our individual judgement and education in deciding what to employ in our practices and lives.
Much of the same can be said about charitable organizations. It appears to me that the website http://www.give.org does a credible job of presenting information on non-profits in numerous fields, including animal entities. While classified as non-profit, these businesses generate millions of dollars in revenues in many cases and many pay sizable salaries to employees. In my opinion, there is nothing at all wrong with this and many, many non-profit organizations fulfill vital missions of public service and job creation and efficient resource utilization. I was amazed to find several organizations which do NOT appear to be meeting the standards of give.org, but who have names very close to organizations which ARE meting the standards for give.org, and often have a wonderful reputation of service to animal and man. Be careful. Be pragmatic. Do YOUR research. Animals elicit powerful feelings from most of us, and our feelings and thoughts are what bring about our actions and results. As animals are elevated in the thoughts, and media, of our society, there will be those who attempt to prey on emotions for economic gain without production of a valuable product. Fortunately, transparency is becoming more and more demanded by our generous society, and the information is available more and more to help you make wise decisions when it comes to charitable giving.
Blessings and peace to all this holiday season. Thanks for stopping by!
A few weeks ago I did a program with a very good friend and fantastic humorist and colleague Dr Bo Brock in which we discussed the suicide of Robin Williams and the alarming rate of suicide of veterinary professionals relative to that in the general population. This past month, my colleague Dr Patty Khuly authored an article in a publication I received discussing the same topic, and while the holiday season brings fun and joy to many, it also brings heightened stress, depression, and anxiety to others. In one of her final paragraphs, Dr Khuly opines, ” …we should worry more about ensuring that all our colleagues have a nurturing, supportive, and judgment-free profession to work in.”
Profound words of wisdom, especially the final half-dozen words. In a profession where each and every day we as veterinarians are immersed in the beauty of nature, the scent of puppy breath, the elegance of the equine and the wisdom and perseverance of the senior pet, is it this external judgment that creates the vision of hopelessness rather than the appreciation of the environment and opportunities we are blessed to experience? Judgement from colleagues, teachers, employers, owners, family members, spouses and possibly most significantly from ourselves? Without rules, guidelines and standards, any profession would risk becoming a free for all centered on self-interest, losing, eventually, the purpose of service through one’s extensive education and experience which should be the motivation and the character of the profession. That said, I would suggest that the peace of mind so vital to staving off the vulture of depression can be achieved by being true to oneself, over and beyond the pleasing of others, yet with an attitude of service to others and reverence for the standards and rules within which one is expected to perform. This can present a true challenge for those in the service professions in that there can be conflicting thoughts and applications of theories, and the building of one’s clientele, the business to provide for oneself and family, is dependent on “the satisfied client or customer”. But what is the gain to gain the wealth of the world yet lose one’s own self and values? (Someone much wiser and more famous than I has previously pontificated this). While it is established human nature, and I would contend healthy, and debatably even Biblical, to strive for more, to continue to work to get better, to enhance our value and grow our wealth, WHEN WE FAIL TO BE STILL FOR JUST A MOMENT AND BE GRATEFUL FOR WHAT WE HAVE, our focus and perspective are blurred to the point of self compromise either physically, spiritually, emotionally, socially or some combination of these. Our perception of an outcome or influence of events, actions, or situations based upon external expectations can limit us in accepting the actuality of the situation and seeking resolution acceptable to our self, alone, without thought for the judgement of others.
Life is a competitive situation. You are not going to win every game, every argument, every job, every bid, every case, and eventually every ailment, disease or malady. BE GRATEFUL you have the opportunity to compete. BE GRATEFUL you have the ability to grow and learn from the situation, not only about the situation, more importantly about your SELF!
I’ve read several commentaries from frustrated veterinarians, have experienced the feeling myself, frustrated with owners who elect euthanasia over treatment, abandonment over responsibility. I’ve learned to step back and be grateful for the owners who make the choice to be responsible and who allow me to pursue treatment. Rather than fret and stress over the person and animal NOT in the exam room, focus on those that are. Rather than stress over the equipment I don’t have, be grateful for that which I DO have. I look at my business management and ask MYSELF if I am doing everything I can to make treatment options as available and affordable as possible. Frankly, I became involved in a networking business because it provided an extremely simple way to allow people to earn more money if they wanted to be able to afford to care for their animals (drbruce.vemma.com- drink your product, get two other people to do the same, repeat, get paid on everything that everyone else drinks, How simple is that?). Am I the only one that walks into a hospital that looks like a 5 star luxury resort and question THAT as why healthcare costs are where they are? ( I digress) But that was someone’s choice, not mine. I can only control my thoughts, my feelings, and my choices. As can you. And when I accept that reality, I CAN do my part in creating a nurturing, supportive, and judgement-free world in which to live and work.
There is not a day I awake that I am not thankful for my health, the ability and opportunity to work in the service of my fellow-man and animal, and for living in what is still the greatest country in the world. What do you have that you are most thankful for this season and what advice do you have for listeners who may be seeing the cloud rather than the silver lining this time of year? Happy holidays, and THANKS for stopping by!
Kathleen Waldvogel, chronicler of California Chrome and the talent behind Forestbird Photography, joined me again on the Wild About Animals Radio Show on Tuesday, November 18 to share what a day in the life of a race horse is really like! I don’t even have the MP3 file from the station yet, but Kat gave me the OK to put on the website the special offer she’s extending to KAAM listeners. She has a classic collection of photos of the classic winning California Chrome compiled into a calendar available for purchase on her website, http://www.forestbirdphotos.com. Here’s the deal:
Select any photo in this portfolio, then click the “buy” button when the image appears on your screen. From there, select “2015 Calendar”, add it to your cart and you can check out or keep shopping.
The coupon code “KAAM”, when entered on the payment page, will give you 30% off your total order when you add any print to your calendar order. And every KAAM listener who buys a calendar will be entered into a drawing for the 8×10 print of their choice, matted and signed by Art and Alan Sherman and California Chrome.
The drawing, and the discount offer, will complete on December 1.
30% off your total purchase when you combine a Chrome Calendar with any other photo(s) in the Sherman Racing portfolio, AND everyone who purchases a calendar and enters the code KAAM on the payment page will be entered in a drawing to WIN an 8×10 print of YOUR choice!
DO IT NOW! The podcast of our conversation will be up ASAP. Thanks for stopping by!!
Somewhere around 10-12 years ago I got a call from an Arabian horse farm in Waco regarding a very valuable stallion who had severe laminitis. The horse had been at a university and had been discharged with “interesting” recommendations, and the French Canadian stallion manager was insistent on me seeing the horse immediately. I drove the 2 hours to the farm that night and found a stunning Arabian stallion who could stand up for about 15 seconds, touch both front feet to the ground, then lay back down on the deep straw bedding. I asked the stallion manager if the horse was insured, and when he replied yes, I informed him that if this was about money, the horse would surely meet any insurance company’s criteria for euthanasia. His reply was that this was NOT about the money, it was about saving the horse, “that is why we called you!” We went to work that night, did immediate surgery, and I have been fully blessed to have a relationship with the outstanding people and horses of Arabians LTD ever since. Yes, the stallion survived and I still am taking care of him and his now near normal, healthy, sound feet, every 5 weeks, along with a few others at the farm.
Over the years I have been able to get to know owner Judy Sirbasku’s “right hand woman”, Shawn Crews, but I never knew fully Shawn’s story. I have learned she is a phenomenal showman and evaluator of Arabian horses. I have learned she travels all over the world, working with owners and breeders to perpetuate the success of Arabians LTD and the Arabian breed. She is both tough as nails and as soft and caring as Mother Theresa. She is a relentless worker and a studious businesswoman, and to say she keeps me both challenged and motivated as a health care professional may be the understatement of the century. But I never knew “Her Story”. I kind of figured she was like a lot of people in high places in the horse world, raised in a “horsey” family, developed as a trainer and exhibitor, and progressed into a management roll. Well, part of that is true.
You see, we live in a land of opportunity, not a land of entitlement. This is a lesson I embraced at an early age. No one owes you anything, other than an opportunity. Sometimes recognizing the opportunity only occurs in hindsight, and those occasions should be learned from, but certainly not dwelt upon, or another opportunity may be missed. In this episode, I share with you the story of how Shawn got an opportunity she really wasn’t looking for, but now can see in retrospect how it became the opportunity of a lifetime. Now, through persistence (oh, some might say a little hard-headedness, but surely not me!), diligence, acceptance and realization she has built a lifetime of opportunity and helped to build the WORLD leader in Egyptian Arabian horses in Waco, Texas!
I am so grateful to have the opportunity to lift my game to the level required to be of benefit to the people and horses of Arabians LTD. One of the things we discuss in the interview is the upcoming Fall Seminar the farm is having. I don’t have, nor have I had, clients who work any harder to help their clients and those interested in horses become more knowledgeable and experienced horsemen than does Shawn and her crew. Whether you are interested in horses or not, the business principles and attitude of service exemplified at the farm can be beneficial, and i encourage you to contact and even visit the Arabians LTD team. Thanks for sharing Shawn Crews! And thanks to you for stopping by!
A show titled “Wild About Animals” would seem to suggest it has an emphasis and appeal to those possibly interested in animal health and stories of animals and since I’m a veterinarian maybe some of the odd stories of what goes on in the life of a veterinarian day-to-day, yet the show is under “Self Help” in iTunes (I think, still don’t have it all figured out). I classified the show under “Self Help” for several reasons, including that I believe there are a lot of life lessons learned from non-human animals, and the people I am around who really embrace the joy of their animals and the pride and joy in taking care of their animals generally flows over into other aspects of their lives. The irony of this episode is that I was REALLY interested and extremely excited to interview the lady who was chronicling California Chrome about California Chrome and sharing with you the care the horse receives, the character of the horse, and some of the ways he has impacted the lives of the people surrounding him. What you will hear in this interview is some indication of the Chrome character, but what ended up unfolding was an amazing example of the power of intention and visualization in the story of my guest, Kathleen Waldvogel.
Kathleen Waldvogel is an artist. Her work and services can be found at her website, http://www.forestbirdphotos.com, though her blog on California Chrome has moved to America’s Best Racing (www.americasbestracing.net). I find her story fascinating in that she has personally employed so many suggestions in the self-help world to create a place in the stable of a race horse and his story which has captured America this past year. First, after leaving the corporate world, she decided to do something SHE enjoyed, spending time with her horse, and her camera. Second, she got a coach. Third, she used the arrogant action of an old flame to set an intention, and then allowed things to fall into place. When the opportunity she desired presented itself, her intention became a reality because her heart was in the right place. While the intention was hers, and she had self-interest, the motivation of the intention had at its foundation the larger motivation of service to others.
The horse world can be portrayed and can in actuality be a world of aloofness and exclusion. Other industries, be they other facets of the entertainment world such as sports or stage, banking, law, real estate, I can think on and on about those groups of people who have seemed to be more EXclusive rather than INclusive. However, in every industry there are those who choose to be inviting and inclusive, and while they may or may not have the biggest house or the biggest bank roll or other material suggestions of success, they often have the biggest lives, and while not completely void of challenges and disruptions, there is a peace and joy and sense of personal satisfaction and self-worth which evolves from the advancement of others. As Zig Ziegler said, “You can have everything you want by helping enough people get what they want.” I think the story of Kathleen and Art Sherman and California Chrome provides an enlightening example of what can happen when intention is followed with action. Let me know what you think in the comment section.
By the way, I do intend to do a follow-up with Kat and share the character of Chrome and the team behind him in the next few weeks. As always, thanks for stopping by!
Anxiety? Bullying? Low Self Esteem? Corporate Team Management and Leadership? Interpersonal Relationship Strengthening and Conflict Resolution?
Winston Churchill has been credited with the comment that “The outside of a horse is good for the inside of a man.” I see this almost everyday and continue to be amazed by the influence sharing time with a horse has on people. Annette Crooks has been a long time friend and client of mine and I am pleased to share the mission she has adopted to combine her experience and expertise in Human Resource Management with her expertise and passion for horses, along with her friend and Licensed Professional Counselor Glinda Digiacinto, to help people solve their problems by interacting with horses. All of her sessions are performed on the ground, no riding or prior horse handling experience required and the service is certified by the Equine-Assissted Growth and Learning Association (EAGLA).
Patience and presence, being completely immersed in the moment and situation that is in front of you RIGHT NOW, are only part of the depth of life a horse can bring to a person. The saying, “Each of us needs all of us, and all of us needs each of us”, may never be more applicable than when dealing with a horse. While I don’t think I could ever fully describe the relationship that develops between man and equine, and especially woman and equine, it is unique, with components and characteristics which translate so seamlessly into relationships with not only other people, but probably more importantly with SELF, perhaps the most frightening relationship of all. Do you fear the horse stepping on your foot? Is he doing it now? Do you believe he wants to step on your foot? So take the belief that the horse doesn’t want to step on your foot, learn to put yourself in a position to avoid having your foot stepped on, and overcome the fear that may be inhibiting you from enjoying the life experience which allows you to take the next step in our life journey. Yes, it will hurt if the horse does step on your foot, but. like most pain, it is temporary (even if you lose a few toenails, trust me, I KNOW!). As legendary horseman Ray Hunt stated, ” The horse will teach you if you will listen.” Thanks for stopping by!
The Ebola epidemic in West Africa is certainly no laughing matter and the first cases to receive publicity outside of Africa have created a media frenzy, and a twist applicable to animal owners’ interests have emerged with dogs in Dallas and Spain being potentially exposed and raising concerns from animal owners. What if I told you that there is a disease endemic in North Texas (as well as other parts of the country and the world) , a viral disease, almost 100% fatality rate in any species, affects humans, dog bites in Asia and Africa cause tens of THOUSANDS of deaths in Asia and Africa every year, and millions more deaths are prevented each year through post exposure vaccination? The disease affects wild animals as well as domestic farm animals and is transmitted by infected animals biting or contaminating open areas or mucous membranes with saliva. Make Ebola sound a little less threatening? Our old nemesis RABIES has been amongst us and it will be interesting to see if Ebola or rabies claims more lives this year. Remember, you can protect both you and your animals by vaccinating your animals every one to three years, depending on laws and species, and the vaccine remains extremely effective in maintaining the safety of both our animal and human population. Most everyone has learned to recognize the likely rabid animal and what to do to protect one’s self and others from a threat. I have all the confidence in the world that between our modern medical technology and information dissemination technologies, Ebola will be another manageable threat to humanity that we learn to live with and overcome. Below are my notes from the show and what research has been accumulated on Ebola in animals during its tenure in Africa, Thanks for stopping by!
Dev Biol (Basel). 2013;135:211-8. doi: 10.1159/000178495. Epub 2013 May 14.
Review of Ebola virus infections in domestic animals.
Weingartl HM1, Nfon C, Kobinger G.
Ebola viruses (EBOV; genus Ebolavirus, family Filoviridae) cause often fatal, hemorrhagic fever in several species of simian primates including human. While fruit bats are considered a natural reservoir, the involvement of other species in the EBOV transmission cycle is unclear, especially for domesticated animals. Dogs and pigs are so far the only domestic animals identified as species that can be infected with EBOV. In 2009 Reston-EBOV was the first EBOV reported to infect swine with indicated transmission to humans; and a survey in Gabon found over 30% seroprevalence for EBOV in dogs during the Ebola outbreak in 2001-2002. While infections in dogs appear to be asymptomatic, pigs experimentally infected with EBOV can develop clinical disease, depending on the virus species and possibly the age of the infected animals. In the experimental settings, pigs can transmit Zaire-Ebola virus to naive pigs and macaques; however, their role during Ebola outbreaks in Africa needs to be clarified. Attempts at virus and antibody detection require as a prerequisite validation of viral RNA and antibody detection methods especially for pigs, as well as the development of a sampling strategy. Significant issues about disease development remain to be resolved for EBOV. Evaluation of current human vaccine candidates or development of veterinary vaccines de novo for EBOV might need to be considered, especially if pigs or dogs are implicated in the transmission of an African species of EBOV to humans
Emerg Health Threats J. 2012;5. doi: 10.3402/ehtj.v5i0.9134. Epub 2012 Apr 30.
Dead or alive: animal sampling during Ebola hemorrhagic fever outbreaks in humans.
Olson SH1, Reed P, Cameron KN, Ssebide BJ, Johnson CK, Morse SS, Karesh WB, Mazet JA, Joly DO.
There are currently no widely accepted animal surveillance guidelines for human Ebola hemorrhagic fever (EHF) outbreak investigations to identify potential sources of Ebolavirus (EBOV) spillover into humans and other animals. Animal field surveillance during and following an outbreak has several purposes, from helping identify the specific animal source of a human case to guiding control activities by describing the spatial and temporal distribution of wild circulating EBOV, informing public health efforts, and contributing to broader EHF research questions. Since 1976, researchers have sampled over 10,000 individual vertebrates from areas associated with human EHF outbreaks and tested for EBOV or antibodies. Using field surveillance data associated with EHF outbreaks, this review provides guidance on animal sampling for resource-limited outbreak situations, target species, and in some cases which diagnostics should be prioritized to rapidly assess the presence of EBOV in animal reservoirs. In brief, EBOV detection was 32.7% (18/55) for carcasses (animals found dead) and 0.2% (13/5309) for live captured animals. Our review indicates that for the purposes of identifying potential sources of transmission from animals to humans and isolating suspected virus in an animal in outbreak situations, (1) surveillance of free-ranging non-human primate mortality and morbidity should be a priority, (2) any wildlife morbidity or mortality events should be investigated and may hold the most promise for locating virus or viral genome sequences, (3) surveillance of some bat species is worthwhile to isolate and detect evidence of exposure, and (4) morbidity, mortality, and serology studies of domestic animals should prioritize dogs and pigs and include testing for virus and previous exposure.
Domestic animal sampling
Efforts targeting domestic animals (cow, goat, sheep, pig, and dog) represented 0.9% (114/13,404) of all samples in the collection (Appendix C). With the exception of one goat carcass, all were live samples, and all samples tested negative for EBOV (Appendix A, B, and C). Only dog samples were tested for EBOV antibody, which was detected at 26.3% (21/80) prevalence. Conversely, the overall antibody detection prevalence was 2.0% (159/7,960) for wild species (Appendix A). The 80 dog (Canis lupus familiaris) samples were collected during two sampling efforts associated with human outbreaks in Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) 1979–1980 and Gabon 2001–2002 (Appendix A). The 12 pig (Sus scrofa) samples tested were collected during the DRC Yambuku 1976 and DRC Kikwit 1995 human outbreaks (Appendix B).
Non-human primate susceptibility to EBOV was evident in the scientific literature. EBOV belongs to the same virus family as Marburgvirus, and a Marburg hemorrhagic fever outbreak had been linked to green monkeys (Chlorocebus aethiops) 9 years prior to the first recognized EHF outbreak in Yambuku, DRC (22). However, it was not until the early nineties that evidence again hinted that non-human primates provided a transmission link between the sylvatic cycle of the virus and human outbreaks. Late in 1989 outbreaks of REBOV, at that time a new strain of EBOV, occurred in non-human primate quarantine centers in the United States, putatively killing monkeys (Macaca fascicularis) imported from the Philippines and causing seroconversion but no disease in humans who handled the monkeys (23–25). In November 1994 a natural outbreak of EHF occurred in chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes) in Taï National Park, Côte d’Ivoire, and a researcher who necropsied an ape carcass became infected with another new subtype of EBOV, Côte d’Ivoire ebolavirus (CIEBOV) (26). Around that same time in Gabon a set of three human EHF outbreaks began that coincided with deaths of non-human primates. The index human cases of the last outbreak in Gabon, in the spring of 1996, had a history of butchering chimpanzees. A chimpanzee carcass found near the hunting grounds of an index case tested positive for EBOV by an immunohistochemical skin biopsy (27).
Many dog owners feel like their pets are like their children — and your brain seems to think so, too. In a new study published in the journal PLOS ONE, researchers at Massachusetts General Hospital investigated differences in brain activity when women volunteers viewed pictures of their dogs, their children, and unfamiliar dogs and children. What they found suggests that the bond between human and pup tugs at some of the same heartstrings — or rather, brainstrings — as the bond between mother and child.
The MGH team analyzed functional MRI data for 14 women, each with at least one child between two and 10 years old and a pet dog that had been owned for at least two years. In the course of the experiment, the women were shown a series of photographs: of their child, of their dog, and of unfamiliar dogs and children. The MRI machine paints a portrait of the participants’ brain activity while viewing the images, by detecting changes in blood flow and oxygen levels in different brain structures.
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The MRI data showed “substantial overlap in brain activation patterns in regions involved in reward, emotion, and affiliation elicited by images of both a mother’s own child and dog,” the authors wrote. But there were some key differences: Photos of a woman’s own child elicited a response in a brain region called the substantia nigra/ventral tegmental area, linked to bond formation; photographs of a beloved dog did not provoke a response there. But pictures of a woman’s own dog sparked greater activity in the fusiform gyrus, a brain structure involved in facial recognition, than even pictures of a person’s own child. The researchers think this might stem from the fact that with dogs, people rely much more on visual cues than the verbal communication they have with children.
“These results demonstrate that the mother-child and mother-dog bond share aspects of emotional experience and patterns of brain function, but there are also brain-behavior differences that may reflect the distinct evolutionary underpinning of these relationships,” the authors wrote.
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So, basically: Your brain’s bond with your dog is somewhat similar to your bond with your child, but not exactly the same.
Other scientists have explored the human-dog relationship from the canine point of view. Neurobiologists in Budapest used brain scanners to investigate how dogs detect emotions in both human and dog vocalizations (training the canines to get in the MRI scanner and hold still was a job in and of itself); they discovered that there are, indeed dog brain regions that light up preferentially when hearing human or dog emotional cues. And a group of veterinary scientists from Viennafound that dogs, like young children, are much more eager to explore new environments with their caregiver around — something that in child psychology is called the “secure base effect.”
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The MGH team notes that their latest study is just a small sample; it remains to be seen if the same brain activity patterns they saw in this group of dog owners would show up in women without children, women with adopted children, men, or in cat owners — although in this last case, the scientific literature suggests that affection might be a one-way street.
Table: Categories of contact and recommended post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP)
Categories of contact with suspect rabid animal Post-exposure prophylaxis measures
Category I – touching or feeding animals, licks on intact skin None
Category II – nibbling of uncovered skin, minor scratches or abrasions without bleeding Immediate vaccination and local treatment of the wound
Category III – single or multiple transdermal bites or scratches, licks on broken skin; contamination of mucous membrane with saliva from licks, contacts with bats. Immediate vaccination and administration of rabies immunoglobulin; local treatment of the wound
All category II and III exposures assessed as carrying a risk of developing rabies require PEP. This risk is increased if:
• the biting mammal is a known rabies reservoir or vector species;
• the animal looks sick or has an abnormal behaviour;
• a wound or mucous membrane was contaminated by the animal’s saliva;
• the bite was unprovoked; and
• the animal has not been vaccinated.
In developing countries, the vaccination status of the suspected animal alone should not be considered when deciding whether to initiate prophylaxis or not.
Local treatment of the wound
Removing the rabies virus at the site of the infection by chemical or physical means is an effective means of protection. Therefore, prompt local treatment of all bite wounds and scratches that may be contaminated with rabies virus is important. Recommended first-aid procedures include immediate and thorough flushing and washing of the wound for a minimum of 15 minutes with soap and water, detergent, povidone iodine or other substances that kill the rabies virus.
No tests are available to diagnose rabies infection in humans before the onset of clinical disease, and unless the rabies-specific signs of hydrophobia or aerophobia are present, the clinical diagnosis may be difficult. Human rabies can be confirmedintra-vitam and post mortem by various diagnostic techniques aimed at detecting whole virus, viral antigens or nucleic acids in infected tissues (brain, skin, urine or saliva).
People are usually infected following a deep bite or scratch by an infected animal. Dogs are the main host and transmitter of rabies. They are the source of infection in all human rabies deaths annually in Asia and Africa.
Bats are the source of most human rabies deaths in the Americas. Bat rabies has also recently emerged as a public health threat in Australia and western Europe. Human deaths following exposure to foxes, raccoons, skunks, jackals, mongooses and other wild carnivore host species are very rare.
Transmission can also occur when infectious material – usually saliva – comes into direct contact with human mucosa or fresh skin wounds. Human-to-human transmission by bite is theoretically possible but has never been confirmed.
Rarely, rabies may be contracted by inhalation of virus-containing aerosol or via transplantation of an infected organ. Ingestion of raw meat or other tissues from animals infected with rabies is not a source of human infection.
• Rabies is a vaccine-preventable viral disease which occurs in more than 150 countries and territories.
• Infection causes tens of thousands of deaths every year, mostly in Asia and Africa.
• 40% of people who are bitten by suspect rabid animals are children under 15 years of age.
• Dogs are the source of the vast majority of human rabies deaths.
• Immediate wound cleansing and immunization within a few hours after contact with a suspect rabid animal can prevent the onset of rabies and death.
• Every year, more than 15 million people worldwide receive a post-exposure vaccination to prevent the disease – this is estimated to prevent hundreds of thousands of rabies deaths annually
situation in Liberia is scary, and might be spiralling out of control.
Ebola cases in West Africa
The total number of cases is rising at an exponential rate. As of 14 September, the doubling time is 16 days in Guinea, 24 days in Liberia and 30 days in Sierra Leone .
Ebola cases in West Africa (Data: WHO / Chart CC BY 4.0: JV Chamary / Source: http://onforb.es/1sCVxE1)
In epidemiology, the speed at which an infectious agent spreads is measured by its reproductive number, ‘R’ – the average number of new cases created by infectious individuals exposed to a susceptible population. When R is greater than 1, the chain of transmission is sustained as each primary case produces at least one secondary case.
At the start of an outbreak, the rate is called ‘R0′ (the basic reproductive number). R0 indicates whether or not a contagious disease has the potential to become an epidemic. Populations can evolve natural immunity or gain artificial protection through health interventions like vaccination, reducing the proportion of susceptible people, so the reproductive number for later periods of time is ‘Rt’.
R0 was 1.7 to 2 during the initial period of exponential growth in West Africa, while the current Rt is 1.4-1.8 . (Calculations by the WHO Ebola Response Team are roughly in line with estimates by other researchers.) R = 2 doesn’t sound high until you hear that the deadliest pandemic in recorded history, the 1918 Spanish flu, killed up to 100 million people even though the influenza virus had an R of 2.
If public health authorities can lower the reproductive number of Ebola below the critical value of 1, the current epidemic will eventually fizzle-out.
Veterinarians aren’t in the profession for the money
While veterinary medicine offers many advanced diagnostics and treatments, those benefits do carry a cost that can surprise some owners. But veterinarians aren’t in it for the money. According to the AVMA and data from the Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association, a typical veterinary school graduate faces over $140,000 in student loan debt on an annual starting salary of $45,575. “It’s a touchy topic,” said veterinarian Sandy Helpling, “because as veterinarians we are put in the category that we love animals so much that we should do everything for free, which I would love to do. But unfortunately, we’re a business, and we have to be able to afford the business.”
And in other news, I believe the late Joan Rivers left $1.5 MILLION in her will to provide for the care of her dogs.
The economics of animals and animal care may be as interesting and diverse of a topic as there is to cover. I began my college career in the Texas A&M College of Engineering and worked three summers and several holidays for an oil and gas company as a student engineer. I really enjoyed taking a plant or a pipeline and using my education to optimize the unit’s performance, often with just a few simple changes, which would result in win win win situations. The company, and therefore the stockholders, made a profit (and I justified my salary), field personnel had jobs and meaningful work, and their safety and well-being were ALWAYS maintained or improved, land owners got royalties for right of ways, and consumers continued to get a product at a price dictated by a supply and demand marketplace. If the project was economically feasible, it proceeded, if not, back to the drawing board.
Food animal veterinary medicine appeared to be the same to me and was one of the attractive parts of this discipline. Large food animal production enterprises calculate their input costs and use price predictions to know the value veterinary input can add to their productivity, and the limit they can spend on a single animal unit to maintain profitability. Veterinarians are used as consultants and diagnostician and the strategies and treatments instituted by technicians and cowboys who don’t have near the time or money invested in education and thus can be paid on a lower pay scale. On the other hand, the hobby farmer or remaining small-sized producer often only uses a vet for emergency or sick animal care and is faced with a one time expense which these days may exceed the value of the animal. So the cycle begins. Either the producer takes his lumps until the time and effort and expense of the operation is no longer economically feasible, and the vet loses an income source, or the vet attempts to deliver services at prices beneficial to the producer and eventually realizes the efforts and expense of his operation is no longer economically feasible and turns to another species or changes occupations altogether in order to make ends meet economically. This is likely the reason we are facing a rural veterinary shortage in many areas of the country, and now government incentives are being offered for new graduates to go into these “underserved” areas for the first few years of their careers to care for these owners and animals. So, there is one of the conundrums. Should the government be expending resources to entice veterinarians into areas where demand for services still exist, but not to the extent to justify entrepreneurial efforts, or should the government leave well enough alone and let market demand dictate veterinary supply, OR should we be educating the small producer as to how early and often veterinary intervention can help him in operating a profitable and productive enterprise? I believe the latter to be the solution and we in the veterinary profession, especially in the realms of organized veterinary medicine, need to be emphasizing the VALUE veterinary service can add to animal enterprises. One of my favorite sayings, ” When you take more interest in your level of contribution than your level of compensation, the level of compensation tends to take care of itself” is so applicable in this, and many. many other similar situations.
Then comes the issue of companion animals. Here is an interesting excerpt from Entrepreneur Online :
Pets at work: A business strategy that pays off
Studies have shown that pets at work benefit the bottom line, and companies are responding with 2 in 10 inviting furry friends to the office. People at work who have exposure to pets tend to be less stressed and more trusting of each other and have deeper team bonds. Such benefits can mean better productivity and lower costs. Pet-friendly businesses should be sure to set behavior parameters, provide treats, space and time for dealing with waste and have a pet-free area for those allergic to or uncomfortable around pets. Entrepreneur online (10/2)
So what is the value attached to a companion? What an individualized answer! I’m sure there are many who would love to have the means of Joan Rivers to set aside and expend millions of dollars on their pets. How much of a motivating force do you think being able to provide for her animals was to her as she continued to work into her eighties? I would think a huge priority, and I think that is what it all gets down to. We each have our own values and priorities, an unalienable right granted to each of us. What I believe, what I am willing to spend, and what I choose to charge for my services are my choices, as are yours. Many businesses proudly announce they put people (and in the case of veterinary businesses, pets) before profits, but without profitability, the business, and more importantly the “WHY” of that business will fail and be lost in a free market society. Banks, insurance companies, suppliers and even employees don’t grant passage to the most caring and well intended veterinarian or animal caregiver who can’t pay his bills, and eventually, the talents, passion, philosophy, and productivity of the individual is lost, even if he chooses to pursue a job in the same area of practice (or any other business), simply because the individuality expressed in each business is so unique. I find it ironic how some of the most iconic businesses in the world, Apple, Starbucks, Walmart, are enormously profitable, move and hoard billions of dollars overseas, and are revered and rarely is their product pricing questioned or challenged, yet vets and animal caregivers face economic challenges often brought about by the person playing on his iPad while drinking a Starbucks who can’t pay his bill because he just spent $200 more at Walmart on stuff he bought after just going in to get some shaving cream! Ahhh… priorities and values. Thanks for stopping by!
Two phenomena have collided with an even more phenomenal resultant. The first is that our homeland faces more natural and man made disasters affecting people these days than ever before. The threat and execution of terrorist attacks from abroad and within are greater than ever, and the population growth puts more people in harms way when industrial accidents, hurricanes, fires, earthquakes and tornadoes strike. The second is that animals are becoming an increasingly valuable part of individual’s and family’s lives, and their welfare benefits from their heightened significance. While primarily formed to support the search and rescue efforts of Texas Team Task Force 1, the Veterinary Emergency Team (VET) at the Texas A&M College of Veterinary Medicine is evolving as the largest and most sophisticated veterinary emergency disaster response team in the world! Dr Deb Zoran is the Medical Operations Director for the VET and today she shares how the VET has evolved in service, planning, and education when dealing with any kind of disaster where animals as well as people are affected. Please check out the link to the VET website and complete your very own disaster readiness plan for your pets and livestock, and learn what you need to do in the unfortunate event you are affected by a disaster and separated from your animals. One thing is for certain, if misfortune in the form of disaster strikes, the VET will be there to provide exceptional emergency animal care and support to those affected, and do everything they can to reunite animals and their owners. Thanks for stopping by!
Still playing catch-up on the blog! The situation in Colorado with Dual Peppy has produced tremendous interest. The situation is interesting to say the least and it appears intervention is long overdue. However, there are steps which must be taken in each case, and Alyson Decanio does a fantastic job relating what transpires when a seizure for abuse or neglect takes place. Rather than opine on this situation, I’m just going to post a guide to determining body condition score in horses, and raise the question, if being 2 body condition scores under the optimal range is considered abusive, should 2 body condition over the optimal range be considered abusive as well? And if not, what does this say about having hope for resolving the obesity epidemic which plagues our country’s health this day and age? Thanks for stopping by!
First let me apologize for the delay in publishing this post. I thought I could upload the audio and the podcast would be available, and I would get my thoughts together on the blog part and publish later. Welp, I now believe I have learned I have to publish the blog for the podcast to work, at least that is what I am hoping as I write this.
This broadcast and subsequent blog were to take a look at what went on the previous week or so in the NFL (Ray Rice allegedly cold-cocking his fiance’ and Adrian Peterson being charged with child abuse), the public outcry both produced, and then turning to what I’ve observed in the animal world as a comparison and an example to how humans resolve conflict and deal with discipline. What goes on in the animal world between males and females and what goes on between parents and offspring in the animal world, and how do animals respond to attempts at physical discipline from owners and trainers?
I don’t think I can ever come up with a reason for a man to hit a woman. Period. I remember doing a skit in fifth grade where I was playing a boxing referee and we pitted a guy against a girl. Anytime he would draw back to take a punch, I would flail him with the little pretend microphone and shout, ” Don’t you know you never hit a lady!” This went on a few minutes until I believe she or I one knocked him out and she was declared the winner. Yes, DORKY! It was fifth grade, in the seventies, but the point is we learned that THEN! And it is still as applicable today as ever! Is there any situation in the animal kingdom in which the male brutalizes the female? Not normally. Now, there are stallions( male horse) which will attempt to brutalize a mare (female horse) in the act of breeding. Rarely is it vicious, and if for some reason it continues to occur or is deemed vicious, that horse may be gelded (castrated), and/or culled as a breeding horse – VERY UNDESIRABLE ATTRIBUTE! Ironically, and maybe rightly, the mare can inflict more damage on the stallion with her hind feet (kicking), and this is in fact one method used to “mature” young colts. That young rascal can be turned out in a pasture of pregnant mares, unreceptive to his advances due to their pregnancies, and that boy learns some manners REAL REAL quick! Point – momma has as much responsibility in teaching a boy to be a man as daddy does. And what do you think about the result for those that don’t learn their lesson? Does it have a place in our society? By the way, I have known of cases where the mare kicked the advancing stallion, fracturing his sternum and puncturing his heart, leading to an almost immediate death. Pretty severe consequence for attempting to do what seems natural, and a great argument for us as animal caretakers to teach our breeding animals some manners for the breeding shed.
Let me take you back to the seventies again. What we tried to get away with was LARGELY determined by who was in the principal’s office swinging the paddle! For the most part, it didn’t take getting “licks” more than once to act as a very large deterrent during the contemplation of future behaviors which might be regarded as less than appropriate. Are there examples in the animal world of parents using physical disciplinary techniques with their young? You bet! Mares will pin their ears and advance towards not only their foals, but foals of other mares when they get out of line. If that doesn’t work, a little nip or brush with a leg is used to get the message across. My big dogs do a fantastic job looking after my lambs, and when a young dog or stranger wonders up and threatens the flock, they are all over that dude, first with a pretty convincing warning tackle and nip, and the aggression goes from there if the undesired behavior continues. Momma dogs will nip their pups to keep them in line, and I’ve seen my ewes butt lambs to deter them from misbehaving. Now, if a parenting animal repeatedly injures or even kills its offspring, or another in the herd, it is removed. An injurious animal is more often than not an unproductive animal, and to carry that liability is something most owners cannot tolerate, and they are culled.
I often think about the development of society and cultures and can’t help but think that early man derived some of his behaviors and philosophies from observations of the animals that surrounded him. It’s common in nature for males to engage in physical conflict, common for there to be physical correction of youngsters by their parents or other elders. Can you tell me any instances of males brutalizing females in the animal world? In fact, most male engagement in nature is in protection or acquisition of females. There is no room in our society for a man to be physically violent towards a woman, and it would seem those that perpetrate such acts are beneath the status of our animal friends, and how productive they can be to “our herd” should really be taken into consideration when such acts occur. But it would seem the animal world may have it right in dealing with the kids. A little physical deterrent can be a valuable teacher of right and wrong; however, the repeat offender or the one inflicting injury or death is in fact abusing not only the child, but the privilege of being a pack leader and a part of “our herd”, and I for one believe “our herd” would be better off with out them. What do you think? Where do you draw the line between disciplinary actions and abuse? Thanks for stopping by!
The American Veterinary Medical Association released a statement from the recent AVMA Convention regarding declawing cats. The statement recognizes declawing as an amputation,encourages the veterinarian to FULLY educate the owner about the declawing procedure and potential complications, and that declawing be used as a last ditch procedure once all other efforts have been made to deter any destructive scratching behavior. Did you know that declawing a cat in the UK would cost the VETERINARIAN a year in prison and a $20,000 fine? And declawing is punishable in several other countries around the world, and in some local jurisdictions within the United States? I must confess, I did not realize this until I began researching this as a show topic, but I will now offer comment as one of the money grubbing veterinarians who is not necessarily a proponent of feline phalangeal amputation, but I am a proponent of the preservation of individual freedoms which have no consequence to the individual freedoms of other people. Let me preface this by stating that while I have worked on a multitude of species (i.e. in “mixed ” animal practices), I predominantly focus my work on horses, but have been found declawing a pet rabbit or two for long time clients.
The most interesting part of the AVMA’s statement on declawing was the comments it garnered. One commentor related how she had worked for a veterinarian who would use a guillotine nail clipper to hastily perform the declaw, toss the toes over his shoulder, and make her find them and pick them up throughout the room. Several told of post-operative complications experienced by the cat following the procedure and many correlated the procedure with the veterinarian willing to inflict pain and suffering to make a quick buck. Each of these comments bring to light points worth discussion and consideration.
While I personally would regard the veterinary surgeon who makes a mockery of his work and his patient as a butcher rather than a surgeon, I would guess the situation to be self limiting in that good employees would soon seek employment elsewhere, other parts of the practice deteriorate, and the person is left to either reconsider how he behaves in his practice, is censored, or gets to the point of not being able to maintain enough help to keep his practice operable. Shame on him for not having enough pride in his work and respect for his patient to be more considerate of the job he is doing. As for post-operative complications…they happen. Would you choose not to spay or neuter your animal because of the risk of post-operative complications? Now the alternative may be the bitch being in heat which brings about dripping on the floor or unwanted male dogs coming around frequently or a litter of pups to feed, raise and likely find homes for. The male dog, well, are you willing to train the leg-hunch out of him and make sure he’s not the one running in front of cars trying to be first in line to the unspayed bitch? Now obviously that’s not the case with every dog, but it is with some, and for those people who have to deal with those problems in their animals, the risk of surgery far out weighs the inconveniences the unaltered behavior produces, and is a more palatable choice than abandonment, surrender to a shelter, or euthanasia. I would argue the same is the case with the cat presented for declawing. While the procedure does carry risk of complications, not unlike ANYTHING ANYONE does, it is, and should continue to be, an available alternative to the owner desiring it. As for the third argument of vets wanting to make a quick buck inflicting pain and suffering, I would be willing to bet the vet or lay person selling behavior modification training, tools, techniques, nail caps and the like are also making money by doing so, as they should be in an open market capitalistic society. I refer back to the spay and neuter comparison again regarding pain. Both spaying and neutering requires as deep a plane of anesthesia as does declawing because both procedures are painful. Surgery IS painful, as is recovery and rehabilitation often times, and that is why we use anesthesia and pain killers. As for the financial part, give me a break! Do you encourage your kids, or did your parents encourage you, to go to school, make good grades, study hard, to get a good job or start a business to earn a good living to have a good life? I would love to see the examples of who has done that more, for less, than the general practitioner veterinarian. Not complaining, it’s each of our choices, but few make the money they could in other vocations.
Cats are fantastic animals! Useful, entertaining, enjoyable and exceptional companions. If you have or want to have a cat, or any animal for that matter, I encourage you to find a veterinarian who aligns with you philosophically on the care of your animal to help you provide both you and the animal with the quality of life all creatures deserve. And I hope our society continues to allow you the owner and me the veterinarian to care for the animal in a moral and ethical way within the uniqueness of each individual situation.