Monday, November 24, 2008

Lindsay Lohan PETA's Latest Target

I wrote an article about the animal rights group, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), explaining how I have mixed emotions about the group. On one hand, their existence keeps those who engage in animal cruelty on notice, and often their work exposes legitimate animal abuse. On the other hand, however, sometimes some of their more extreme members can engage in controversial, odd, or in a few cases, even violent behavior, that hurts their credibility and imparts on them a aura of extremism.

The Daily Dish of reported on a recent incident where PETA has recently made news. According to The Daily Dish, as mink stole adorned Lindsay Lohan entered a Paris night club on Saturday night, November 15, 2008, an anti-fur activist pelted the actress with a large sac of flour and covered her with its contents. Aside from the humiliation of being dowsed in flour and having to rush to the bathroom to clean up, Lindsay was unharmed.

The Daily Dish article did not reveal if the anti-fur activist was affiliated with PETA, but PETA Europe's Robbie LeBlanc quickly applauded the attack, stating, "There is nothing remotely fashionable about the torture and death of animals killed for fur. Lindsay Lohan might be able to ignore images of bloody animals skinned alive for their pelts, but we hope a dash of flour will help her rise to the occasion and forsake fur once and for all." This seems to indicate that there could be a connection between PETA and the flour bomber.

When I first heard of this, I must admit that my first reaction was to have a pretty good chuckle, both because of the absurd nature of the incident, and because I am no fan of fur garments. However, I will concede that my dislike of fur could be fairly criticised as carrying and air of hypocrisy, since I do wear leather shoes and belts as well as favor leather seats in my cars. My only justification for this is that my skins come from animals that are already being slaughtered for food, and whether you buy into this justification, I do not approve of the killing of animals simply for their fur, although my use of leather certainly disqualifies me from being an anti-fur activist.

What should be clear to any rational person is, while a stance against the wearing of furs can be viewed as a humane and justified opinion, behavior like this is not the way to get the message out. Pelting Lindsay Lohan with a sac of flour will not likely cause her to rethink her wearing of furs, and to many people, these actions will cause people to view anti-fur people as kooky extremists rather than legitimate activists.

A better, more credible way to denounce Lindsay Lohan's choice of animal fur wardrobe, would have been to use blogs and other multimedia to bring attention to the fact that Ms. Lohan is setting a bad example in their opinion, of advocating the killing of animals for the purpose of harvesting their furs. In presenting this case in a more civilized fashion, perhaps Ms. Lohan would have suddenly seen the light and realized the implications of what she was wearing and pronounced that she would no longer wear animal furs. Perhaps she would have done this just for the sake of eliminating the potentially bad press.

Even if she had not responded at all, taking a higher road may have led many to be sympathetic to their cause, whereas following the flour bomb, there are probably more people that dismiss the actions of this PETA linked anti-fur activist as extreme, uncivilized, and mean spirited.

Roger Welton, DVM

Monday, November 17, 2008

Pets in the White House as American as apple pie.

Barack Obama, per his election victory speech promise to his daughters, will be carrying on the time honored tradition of pets in the White House. While this tradition has recently gained notoriety, probably due to our current historically peak levels of per capita household pet ownership, as well as ever expanding mass media, pets cohabiting with the first family in the White House is nothing new or even recent.

George Washington began the pet tradition as first President of the United States, as he kept with him one of his famed and beloved Revolutionary War steeds, Nelson, as well as an array of many other prized horses. Our first first lady had with her a cherished parrot.

Abraham Lincoln had an assortment of pets in the White House that included a pig, a turkey named Jack, and a dog named Jip. Not to be outdone, Theodore Roosevelt had a collection of pets that dwarfed that of honest Abe, including Algonquin, a calico pony, Pete, his favorite bull terrier, along with several other canines. President T. Roosevelt also had a Macaw named Eli Yale, as well as a lion, hyena, wildcat, coyote, five bears, two parrots, zebra, barn owl, snakes, lizards, rats, roosters, and raccoon.

Calvin Coolidge also had a literal zoo-like array of pets at the White House, which included as many as 12 dogs, several exotic bird species, two cats, a bear, a donkey, a wallaby, a bobcat, a bear, and a pigmy hippo.

Recently, our nation has become quite familiar with the Clinton's famous chocolate lab, Buddy, as well as President GW Bush's well known Scottish Terriers, Miss Beasley and Barney (who recently made headlines for biting a reporter).

A Presidential display of adoration of animals sets an example of compassion, illustrates the human animal bond at the highest level, and sets the bar high for responsible pet ownership. While we are still very much a work in progress in reaching optimal animal welfare standards as a nation, Presidential pets remind us that the majority of Americans are compassionate people, capable of selfless love and respect for animals.

I am please to know that Barack Obama and the first family elect will continue this endearing tradition.

For more indepth Presidential pet information, please refer to my primary source for the information contained in this post, the Presidential Pet Museum.

Roger Welton, DVM

Sunday, November 9, 2008

The ultimate charlatan

In my January 24th article, "Careful pet owners, charlatans now target your pets!", I touched on this miracle canine medication creator whose credentials do not go beyond being a dog owner and self proclaimed independent researcher. As part of that article, I used him as a charlatan example with his peddling of a cure he developed for Cushings Disease that utilizes ingredients found at a local supermarket. In his sales pitch, he accused veterinarians of suppressing this knowledge because of our alignment with pharmaceutical companies that keep our loyalty with "great kickbacks, such as a free vacation for the family or a "convention meeting" (as they call it) that some how finds it's way in the good Dr's mail box."

Using the same advertising theme, "4 Facts Your Stupid Vet Failed To Tell You About [name your disease du jour]," Michael Dole now has a household supermarket item cure for the deadly canine viral disease, parvo. In his marketing of this product, Michael Dole suggests that veterinarians do not offer the best available treatments for parvo, indicating that the treatments we offer regularly fail because they consist merely of:

"Treatment A: No treatment at all (there's nothing we can do). In this case they will simply send your dog home to die.


Treatment B: An IV and an overnight stay (maybe 3 nights). BUT don't be fooled by the complicated Dr talk. What you are basically paying for is an IV drip full of water and electrolytes meant to rehydrate your dog."

He goes on to say that veterinarians do not understand that the key cause of death from parvo is merely, "a simple matter of dehydration."

Please allow me to clarify the truth about parvo from a veterinarian's perspective. While dehydration is a significant factor in clinical disease and can lead to death by hypovolemic shock, the consequences of parvo are far more complex than just dehydration. Parvo attacks rapidly dividing cells of the GI tract or the bone marrow. In the GI tract, the result is sloughing of the lining of the GI tract, causing malabsorption and bleeding (hence the bloody diarrhea associated with the disease). In the bone marrow, the virus inhibits the patent's ability to make red blood cells and white blood cells. Red blood cells are the solid component of the blood stream responsible for oxygenating tissues, white blood cells are the first line of defense of against infection. Death can result from all this due to anemia, hypoxia (tissue oxygen depletion), and sepsis (systemic blood born infection).

According to Michael Dole, all we do to treat all this is offer an IV drip. Realistically, an IV drip to replace lost hydration and electrolytes, is but one component of a multifaceted treatment protocol. We also treat with antibiotics to fight secondary bacterial infection in the immune compromised patient. We treat with GI protectants to reduce GI hemorrhage and sloughing of the gut lining. In cases of severe anemia, we administer blood transfusions.

So Mr. Dole, since you have zero animal health care training, obvious both in your own listed credentials, as well as your twisted perceptions of veterinary care, please allow me to enlighten you. To call veterinarians stupid, insults the sacrifice, discipline, and hard work we poured into our education and training, as well as our ongoing dedication to the profession. To misrepresent how we implement treatment is appalling whether the result of ignorance or intentional deception. Not having purchased your product and not knowing what your supermarket parvo cocktail consists of, I will concede that there may be some benefit to parvo patients, perhaps even a decent alternative for pet owners who just unequivocally cannot afford veterinary care. But to try selling people on the notion that they should forgo veterinary medicine when parvo is suspected, in favor of your cocktail that you tout as a parvo treatment superior to the best treatment protocols veterinary medicine has to offer, is ridiculous, irresponsible, and puts pet's lives in danger.

I e-mailed this blog post to Mr. Dole. I challenge him to respond.