Thursday, December 17, 2009

Romeo's Law is about protecting people as much as it is animals.

Transcript from today's episode of The Web-DVM:

This story brings me to my personal comment tonight. My cynical side reads this story and thinks that its a darn good thing that Romeo's assailant was not a famous NFL football star, since if he were, there would not likely have been a serious conviction nor the creation of Romeo's Law. Some degree of cynicism is an unfortunate byproduct when considering some of the reactionary comments to my Michael Vick piece last week, where I was taken back not only by the number of people that were strongly in support of him, but also some of the vile comments posted on my You Tube channel and sentiments they wrote in his defense. To be fair, the majority comments did tip in favor of those who wholly reject Michael Vick no matter what he can do on the playing field or for a football team, and a few comments in support of him did offer at least reasonable alternate opinions.

However, the majority of pro Vick comments were offered in the most profane and disturbing fashion. I will not repeat the comments directly, but leave you to read them for yourself still posted on my YouTube channel. Parental discretion is advised.

In the PG summary, some of my critics insinuated that I am some kind of animal rights extremist, picking the well being of another species over that of my own. Another justified cheering for Vick because the life of a dog is less important than that of a person. Yet another accused all of those who oppose Vick of being racists.

Folks, this issue is not a matter of picking the well being of another species over that of people, it is trying to prevent innocent pain and suffering and removing those who wantonly engage in such acts of cruelty against the innocent. Does this beautiful animal pictured here deserve abuse for no reason other than the fact that he was defenseless and vulnerable?

Should the man that abused him for no other reason than sadistic pleasure be allowed to act in that manner without any accountability. Is that the kind of people we want to be? Apparently some do.

Make no mistake, ladies and gentlemen, cruelty and crimes against the innocent and vulnerable illustrates the true nature of a person whether enacted upon animals or children, or women. Studies prove time and again that those who abuse animals are likely commit domestic violence and other violent crimes.

70% of animal abusers were found in one 20 year study to have then committed other crimes, and 44% went on to harm people. (Arluke, A. & Luke, C. 1997).

In another recent study 99% of animal abusers had convictions for other crimes. (Clarke, J. P. 2002). In that same study it was found 100% of people who committed sexual homicide had abused animals. (Clarke, J. P. 2002). That study also revealed 61.5% of animal abusers had assaulted a human as well. (Clarke, J. P. 2002).

63.3% of inmates in one prison study who were in for violent crimes admitted to abusing animals. This doesn't include the ones who didn't admit it. (Schiff Louw Ascione, 1999)

Police have actually found animal abuse is a better predictor of whether someone will commit sexual assault than previous convictions for murder or arson. (Clarke, J. P. 2002). That is remarkable!

71% of women in a battered women's shelter reported their abuser either abused a household pet or threatened to abuse a pet. (Ascione, 1998)
In another study 88% of child abusers also abused the animals in the home. (Ascione)

[References for all of these studies if your are interested, are posted on our blog at]

These statistics prove beyond any shadow of a doubt that animal abuse laws are as much about recognizing the danger to people from animal abusers as these laws are about protecting animals. The lives of humans as well as animals depend on it. The sooner we recognize that, the better off we will all be.

I congratulate Kentucky for having the wisdom to recognize this, and make a bold statement in the name of an innocent, defenseless victim they gave a voice to, and other victims they will continue to give voices to. I just hope that the rest of the country takes notice and follows their example.

That is our show for this Friday, December 18, 2009. I will be taking the next 2 weeks off for Christmas and New Year's. I want to thank all of you viewers for making us a success with your participation, having progressed from just 105 views in our first episode, to now attracting between 3000 - 7000 views per episode. I look forward to bringing you the news and reading your reactionary comments to my commentary in the new year ahead. We will return on Friday, January 7, 2010, where I will be discussing The Myth of the Rich Veterinarian, so be sure to tune in.

Happy Holidays to all from The Web-DVM!

Dr. Roger Welton is the President and chief veterinarian at Maybeck Animal Hospital in West Melbourne Florida, as well as CEO of the veterinary advice and health management website

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Michael Vick is no person to cheer for!

Transcript from this episode of The Web-DVM:

My personal comment tonight once again takes us back to our old nemesis Michael Vick. As you well know, Michael Vick was arrested in July 2007 and later convicted of participating in, funding, and providing the venue for the raising of dogs for the blood sport of dog fighting. At the time it happened, the Atlanta Falcons fans were appalled by this man, felt betrayed to their core, and could not run him out of town fast enough. Back then I wondered to myself, do these people revile Vick more for his crimes, or for what his arrest did to their beloved football franchise. After all, the Falcons had recently signed a new coach who later left the team mid-season because of the turmoil left behind in the wake of Vick's departure, and they had traded Vick's talented back up Matt Schaub to the Houston Texans - this franchise was in trouble. Then it occurred to me that whatever the people's motivation was really irrelevant, since Vick would for life remain a pariah, one that no NFL franchise would risk tarnishing their image to sign. I mean, O.J got acquitted and we never saw him make another Naked Gun Movie! Boy was I wrong.

Still, when Vick served his time as mandated by our animal cruelty inept criminal justice system, when Philadelphia actually showed interest in signing Vick, I actually supported Roger Goodell's decision to allow him back into the NFL. For one, having grown up in northeast NJ on the other end of the turnpike supporting NY teams, I favored anything that would make the Philadelphia Eagles look bad. But also, I figured he served his time, and as much as I despised him, he earned the right to make a living the only way he has ever known how. And if the creep is going to be free, might as well let him work so that the country can at least benefit from his income tax revenue.

That was my thinking until this past week, when the Philadelphia Eagles visited the Falcons to play in a year that has been marred for Atlanta by a disappointing season in large part because of the play of second year quarterback, Matt Ryan, who left high expectations following his breakout, amazing rookie season performance last year. I did not see the game for myself, but watched ESPN Sportcenter report later on that Philadelphia pretty much manhandled Atlanta, in a game that featured Vick make a few impressive plays which included a touchdown pass. I then felt my hair stand up as ESPN reported that, frustrated with their own team's performance, Atlanta fans started chanting, "We want Mike, we want Mike!", every time Vick took the field or Atlanta did not play well in later quarters.

That crowd showed me a lot that day. They proved that the people of Atlanta did not reject Vick for what he did to those 60 and likely hundreds of other dogs. They rejected him only because of the state that his actions left their football team in, without an identity, without a leader, without a coach, and unable to win. Few really ever gave a dam about those canine victims, they were just upset that their ability to win football games was compromised.

For the record, I completely and unequivocally rescind any support I had for allowing Michael Vick back in the NFL, because my past position was begotten from an overestimation of the notion that my fellow citizens would never embrace this man again, and certainly not elevate him to the status of hero, after knowing what really is in his heart. He does not belong back in the NFL because America clearly values having a winning football team over compassion for animals that were sadistically brutalized for entertainment! And as long as our citizens have such little regard for the suffering of other living beings, the best message we can send in a case like Vick's is that someone like him will simply not be allowed return to the NFL, a place where all is forgiven as long as you play well for our team. The best message we can send, is to render him insignificant.

I will leave you with one last thought. Before you consider jumping on the Vick bandwagon and cheering for him, consider this. By all accounts Michael Vick had participated in and loved the cruel sport of dog fighting since he was a teenager. He had the world at his finger tips, a lucrative playing contract, the status of being the name and face of a franchise, all kinds of endorsement revenue, and still, he was willing to risk it all for the rush, for the pleasure of having his very own dog fighting ring and houses of torture to cultivate the most tormented and mean dogs to inflict the most violence on their opponents. He loved it all so much that he would risk all that!

You think that 16 months of jail time takes that level of cruelty out of someone's heart? Think again. When you cheer for that man, you cheer for the very worst in humanity.

Dr. Roger Welton is the President and chief veterinarian at Maybeck Animal Hospital in West Melbourne Florida, as well as CEO of the veterinary advice and health management website

Thursday, December 3, 2009

The importance of pet name selection!

Transcript of personal comment from this episode of The Web-DVM:

Onto my personal comment tonight, which is the importance of giving your pet a good name, something that new pet owners would be wise to give serious consideration to. Pets' names in a significant way contribute to setting the tone for their life. They have the power to make them either distinctly recognizable, or just another pet among millions.

But naming a pet goes beyond potentially saddling a pet with a lousy name, it also reflects on the pet owner who named it, either eliciting a good chuckle or comment from others for its humor or creativity, or have the opposite effect, leaving others thinking that the pet owner may lack imagination, sense of humor, or creativity.

In the veterinary profession, in practice where we see literally thousands of patients, distinctive, funny, or creative pet names make individual patients often instantly recognizable to us by mere mention of the name, while with some others, the name does not click without seeing the pet with the owner in the setting of the examination room, or even not until its file is in my hand.

I often laugh when clients may see me in town and say, "Hey Doc, remember me? I'm Bailey's Mom." In most cases, I am not going to be able to distinguish this Bailey from the hundreds of other Baileys I have as canine patients, and have to politely tell the owner that I appreciate her friendliness toward her veterinarian, but with so many Baileys registered in my clinic, it is hard to pin point just one.

On the other hand, when the owners of the cat Fat Man Jackson run into me and say hi, there is no mistaking who their pet is.

So, for those of you thinking of a name for your new dog or cat you just adopted or plan to adopt, let me offer you some advice and give you some names to avoid, just because they are overplayed, beat to death, and run the risk of making your pet seem ordinary.

Starting with dogs, we already talked about Bailey, perhaps the most overused canine name in the history of the species. Others include: Marley, Harley, Fluffy, Buffy, Molly, Maggie, Lucy, Ginger, Chloe, Sophie, Zoe, Max, Buddy, Jake, Rocky, Buster, Cody, Charlie, Bear, and Jack. Take my advice and take pains to avoid these.

On to cats, you may want to steer clear of Midnight, Shadow, Patches, Callie, Chloe, Tiger, Tigger, Missy, Princess, Blackie, Smokey, Simba, Sam, Sammy, Sox, or Oliver.

Better choices? Perhaps go with something very personal to you, or something unique about the pet. An old friend of mine originally found her beloved mutt running down the New Jersey Turnpike and subsequently named her Jersey. When my college roommates and I adopted a house kitten, as we were overwhelmed with the exceptionally foul odor and abundance of his flatulence, one of my roommates conceived of the name, Stinky.

Favorite professional athlete names or their nicknames can also lead to neat names, producing some of my favorites, such as: Moose, Butkus, Ditka, Magic, Catfish, and Mickey to name a few.

I can go on and on with examples of cool, unique, creative, and meaningful pet names, but that is only simply because I know a lot of pets. Unfortunately, more often than not, the pets I come across are stuck with boring, common, or corny names.

So don't feel rushed into naming your new pet. Sometimes it is best to let a cool one come to you, whether it be something funny that your pet may do in your early days together, an experience you may have with one another, or anything else that may be special or unique between you and your pet. Sometimes it comes quickly, sometimes it takes a little while.

The day I first met my late yellow lab Tiffany when she was a 12 week old puppy, her hazel green eyes reminded me of fine jewels, hence the name that came to me immediately. For my mutt Lulu who is thankfully still with me, it did not happen so quickly, and she was without a name for the first 2 weeks we were together, when suddenly for reasons I cannot explain, I called her Lulu.

In conclusion, when naming your new pet, take your time, try to be creative, personalize, and most of all, have fun with it.

We invite you to share your cool pet names with us in our respective comments sections, whether you find us through our blog or through YouTube. Please include a brief explanation of what led you to the name you chose.

That is our show for this Friday, December 4, 2009. I look forward to reading all of your cool pet names! Thanks again for watching.

Dr. Roger Welton is the President and chief veterinarian at Maybeck Animal Hospital in West Melbourne Florida, as well as CEO of the veterinary advice and health management website

Thursday, November 19, 2009

How to clean dog/cat ears & prevent ear infections

Transcript of personal comment from this episode of The Web-DVM:

Welcome back to the studio, where in my personal comment tonight, I will break down the root causes and effective prevention of ear infections, discussing the most appropriate ear cleansers for your pet.

So why is one dog or cat plagued by recurring ear infections, when the majority are not? You just were acquainted with my lab, Bernie, who tends to get yeasty wax build up in his ears that will lead to infection if left unaddressed. Yet in the same household, there are two other dogs, as well as one cat, whose ears I never have the need to even clean.

The answer to this oddity is that micro-organism overgrowth and waxy build up occurs most commonly due to underlying skin allergy. The sensitive skin that lines the ear canals is prone to inflammatory changes in the allergic patient that increase glandular secretions and irritate the tissue. Allergens that affect the ears are the same as those that affect people with allergic sensitivity, airborne allergens such as: pollens, mold spores, and dessicated grasses. This resultant allergy stimulated inflammation within a region that tends to be warm and poorly ventilated, creates an environment of tissue that is ripe for overgrowth of yeast and/or bacteria.

However, this situation does not necessarily have to spiral into a severe raging ear infection where a visit to the veterinarian is the only alternative. If you put the time and effort into keeping the ears clean, dry, and fresh, you can often prevent full blown infections, saving your doggy or kitty a lot of discomfort, while saving yourself a lot of money.

So let us start with good ear cleanser selection. Good ear cleansers should do three basic things: degrease, dry, and acidify the ears. This creates an environment less hospitable for infectious micro-organisms to grow and reproduce, and is accomplished effectively with cleansers that have a small percentage of acetic acid and alcohol. However, we do not want to make the ear canal tissue more irritated, so the inclusion of these agents needs to be well balanced with soothing ingredients such as aloe and omega-3-fatty acids. Vet Solutions ear cleanser fits these criteria well, and for years has been one of my favorite choices for regular ear cleanings. If the discharge that builds up in the ears of your dog or cat is yellow to yellowish light brown in nature, this indicates that it is primarily wax and perhaps some bacterial overgrowth, making Vet Solutions an ideal choice.

If like my dog Bernie, your dog or cat tends to get a dark brown waxy discharge in the ears, then the build up is likely the result of yeast overgrowth in the ears, making Vet Solutions still a decent choice, but you can likely do better with a cleanser that has an additional ingredient that kills yeast. As you saw in the video, I used T8 Keto on Bernie, which combines many of the ingredients that make Vet Solutions effective, with the addition of ketoconozole, an antifungal that has powerful yeast killing properties. Since we recorded this video earlier this morning, however, the company that makes T8 Keto has announced an indefinite back order on this line of product, making it increasingly difficult to find. A good alternative product has the identical ingredients as T8 Keto, called Triz Ultra (EDTA)with Keto, making it an ideal alternative. Again, that product is called Triz Ultra (EDTA) with Keto. Both Vet Solutions ear flush and Triz Ultra (EDTA) with Keto can be purchased from your vet, or through online pet medication retailers.

Whether Vet Solutions or Triz Ultra (EDTA) with Keto are the appropriate choice for your pet based on the criteria I discussed, you should flush the ears just like I showed you in the instructional portion of this program, once daily for 7 days, then maintain with flushes1-3 times weekly as needed. If you follow this and remain consistent with the care of your pet’s ears, you have a good chance of preventing full blown infections, making for a happier pet and a happier bank account.

That is our show for this Friday, November 19, 2009. We will see you again in 2 weeks, as we will be taking next week off for the Thanksgiving Holiday. I wish you all a safe and happy Thanksgiving.

Dr. Roger Welton is the President and chief veterinarian at Maybeck Animal Hospital in West Melbourne Florida, as well as CEO of the veterinary advice and health management website

Friday, November 13, 2009

Animal cruelty laws are far too lenient

Transcript of personal comment from this episode of The Web-DVM:

As I stated, this leads into my personal comment tonight, which is in regard to a sad reality that I have voiced my grievance with before: that our criminal justice system is disgustingly lenient with its punishment in animal cruelty cases. The fact that operating what was essentially a torture and death camp for innocent animals bears only misdemeanor offenses is nothing short of appalling. That sends a message to our citizens that torture and murder is evil, but when enacted on animals, is simply just naughty. It certainly does little to nothing to deter sick individuals from enacting their sadistic fantasies on innocent animals.

I find it curious that the only circumstance that makes these offenses felonies, are if the deceased animals were ultimately found to have been the property of other people. Now this sends another lovely message: torture of animals is only wrong if they are the property of other people, but strays and wild animals? No worries, torture away, there’re plenty more where they came from.

What kind of criminal justice system is this? Having grown up near New York City, and practiced veterinary medicine just 10 miles west of the town where McDonough allegedly committed these atrocities, I know that New Yorkers consider themselves the most savvy and sophisticated citizenry in the country and even the world. Yet with regard to animal cruelty, the criminal justice system is as backwards as a third world country.

You will recall that I reported on Michael Vick some time ago, that I actually supported his reinstatement back into the NFL, because he had served his time in accordance to our criminal justice system, and as such, had a right to rejoin society and make a living the only way he knows how. You may also recall, however, that I felt his penalties were a joke for the degree of his offenses.

I am not deluded into thinking that stiffer penalties will truly lead these cruel individuals to see the error of their ways. While I support affording Michael Vick the right to make a living, I still feel strongly that in his heart he is a cruel sadist. If cruelty is in someone’s heart, they are not sorry for their crimes, they are just sorry that they got caught – these leopards rarely change their spots.
However, stiffer penalties accomplish a number of positive things. First and foremost, they remove these people from society, sparing innocent animals their wrath. Next, it serves as a deterrent the perpetrators and others who share their brand of evil intent, that if you are caught, you will serve the time and be branded with the stigma of being a convicted felon. Lastly, it sends a message to all that torture of animals is not just wrong, but a serious crime against society.

So rise up, New Yorkers, and make a stand for the animals of your state. I know how most of you love and care for animals, with many of you I was privileged to have as clients in the three years I practiced in Long Island. Make your voices be heard, that you will no longer accept your laws being so tolerant of animal cruelty. And that does not just go for New Yorkers, but any other state that essentially condones animal cruelty with lax penalties for violators. Remember the enlightened words of the great Mohandas Gandhi:

"The greatness of a nation can be judged by the way its animals are treated."

Dr. Roger Welton is the President and chief veterinarian at Maybeck Animal Hospital in West Melbourne Florida, as well as CEO of the veterinary advice and health management website

Friday, November 6, 2009

Want to reform human healthcare? Start by acting more like veterinarians!

Transcript of personal comment from this episode of The Web-DVM:

We have a little change in format tonight, as we are forgoing news stories in lieu of a more than typical substantial personal comment tonight. My comment deals with a subject that is in the forefront of the minds of most Americans right now, the subject of human health care. While I agree that our health care system is badly in need of reform, that health insurance companies are a big part of the problem, where that aspect of reform should go is not within the scope if this program.

The reform I am talking about, starts at the level of the care givers and health institutions themselves, to hold themselves accountable to a higher standard, in short, to start acting more like the veterinary industry does. If you bear with me for the few several minutes, I briefly want to recount two recent personal experiences I had in the human health care system that are abominable examples of what is wrong with our health care system, then explain to you how we veterinarians do it differently, and frankly, emphatically better.

On week 16 of my wife's pregnancy with our beloved Austin, she was out to dinner with her brothers when she suddenly experience a gush of clear fluid. Terrified that she may have expelled life sustaining amniotic fluid, she proceeded straight to the emergency room having called me to meet her there en route.

Upon arrival, we began our experience by waiting more than 90 minutes from admission to actually having her in a bed and ready to be examined. Once there, we were greeted by nurses, but there was still another thirty minutes before a physician came in to see her. Only the caregiver that came in was not a physician at all, but a physician assistant, known by the abbreviated term, PA. After she performed her examination and told us she suspected a threatened miscarriage, I asked her when the doctor would be in, to which she replied, there would be no doctor, that she was the assigned care giver in the emergency room that evening. Apparently, potentially losing your unborn child and having excellent health insurance does not qualify for actually getting an MD in this hospital.

The PA next came in with a device called a Doppler to check for the baby's heartbeat. Having seen my wife's regular top notch OBGYN take some time to locate the heartbeat previously with a Doppler, and having had a lot of personal experience with the use Doppler in animals, I knew that there was an art to successfully using Doppler, the mastering of which comes with experience.

I watched as this PA was clearly not confident with the device, while she failed to find my baby's heartbeat. She then told us that since Doppler was not infallible (at least in her hands), the definitive state of the baby could not be determined, but that the signs did not look good. Her recommendation was that was we go home and call our OBGYN first thing Monday morning to have an ultrasound scheduled. Dumbfounded at this point since it was Friday, I asked her why we could not get an ultrasound right then and there, and her answer was that the urgency of the situation would not allow her the authority to order one!

Having quickly gone from dumbfounded to appalled, I asked her to meet me outside the room in the hallway, where I told her that I will not allow her to enact such cruelty on my wife and I, to make us go through the emotional turmoil of an entire weekend of not knowing whether or not our baby lived. I told her in no uncertain terms that if denying us an ultrasound was her final position, that Monday morning I would not only be calling the OBGYN, but also submitting a grievance with the Florida state medical board, as well seek out the most aggressive shark of a lawyer I could find and sue them.

As luck would have it, my discussion with the PA revealed that an ultrasound was not out of the question after all, and my wife was promptly taken into ultrasound, where we saw our little guy happily swimming around in Mommy's uterus. I was so elated, I hugged the ultrasonographer, not only because of the news her scan brought us, but also because her diagnostic capability was the only bit of professionalism and quality care we had received the entire evening.

In another recent health care experience, I was referred to a specialist by my primary doctor. To my dismay, it would be 3 weeks before I could be seen by this specialist, and the only other alternative for this specialty was all the way in Orlando. Also to my dismay this specialist, as it turned out, only actually worked 3 1/2 days a week.

After I finally had my appointment with this doctor, he had ordered a battery of blood tests, telling me that they would be in in one week, and that I should call back then for results. I called as he said one week later and a nurse confirmed that the blood work was in. This is when the fun really began.

She promptly was about to refer me to the receptionist so I could make an appointment with the doctor to review the blood work, when I asked her why he could not go over results over the telephone as I do for my clients. She proclaimed that the doctor as a strict policy does not review labs results over the telephone, that it must be done in person with an office visit. At this point very unhappy with the way I was being treated, I was still was willing to go along with this nonsense, until I was informed that it would be another 2 weeks to get an appointment to review my labs!

Right then, I was done with this doctor. After making me wait 3 weeks for an appointment and one week for the test results, just so that he could bill my insurance company another office visit, he was making me wait another 2 weeks to get my results. No way!

I told the nurse that I was effectively done with this doctor, that his policies and lack of accommodation was disgusting, and demanded that she fax me my lab results. I interpret lab data every day for dogs and cats, much of which are the same parameters as for people, so I certainly was capable of interpreting my own. And if not, I would drive to another state for help, rather than take this abuse any further.

This last part is the icing on the cake. When I demanded to get my lab work faxed to me, the nurse informed me that she could not, for the administrative paper pusher that normally was in charge of something like that, was on vacation and would not be back for another week. I said to the nurse, "So you are telling me that there is only one person in your office that is capable of sending a fax?" Her answer to me was that it was not a matter of being capable, but that it was policy that only this one person was in charge or processing paperwork. Finally, I said, "Go to your manager, doctor, or whoever your superior is today, and tell her that refusing to release my labs is both unethical and illegal in the state of Florida, and that she could either fax them to me immediately, or fax them at a later time when the Florida state medical board ordered them to after I filed my grievance. I had my results in hand 15 minutes later.

Being a health provider for dogs and cats, all I can say to the medical profession is four words, "ARE YOU KIDDING ME?" I would be put out of business and run out of town if I or my hospital behaved like this. Let me tell you how we do it in veterinary medicine so that you can see what real health care is.

No matter how booked up we are, we do not turn away a sick patient, find a way to fit them in, even if it means working through our lunch break and/or staying late, sometimes very late. Routine blood work is back within 10 minutes, most other blood work back within one business day, even tissue biopsies are back in 2 business days. When the results come in, I call the owner free of charge and review them, as well as answer any and all questions, no matter how long it takes.

When owners call with questions about a particular treatment course, refills, or just general questions, I communicate with them through a technician if possible to save time, but come to the telephone regularly myself if the questions are very involved, or if the client feels more comfortable talking directly to me.

When we have to refer a patient to a specialist, there is NEVER anything even approaching 3 week wait, with our nearby critical care and specialty referral center happy to receive patients right away, within minutes, or at most within an hour or two at most, even under non critical circumstances.

The bottom line is that in veterinary medicine, we think of the needs and well being of the patient first and foremost, rather operate with abject apathy and arrogance under the guise of policy, red tape, and feeling that we are justified in charging for every single word we speak.

All this said, this is not an indictment of all medical doctors and health care institutions. For example, the rest of my wife's pregnancy with Austin unfortunately was not smooth, and it was ultimately the tireless dedication of our wonderful OBGYN group that delivered him safely to us, not a hair on his little head harmed. In a nut shell, this OB group operates more like us.

Unfortunately, health care institutions like the ones that saved my son's life, are becoming increasingly the minority, with the nonsense that I previously relayed to you, more the norm. Congress will hash out what they will, and people will debate and shout until they are blue in the face on how health care reform should proceed. Regardless of whatever the result of that debate is, health care providers should think long and hard about reforming themselves first and foremost and becoming a little more like us.

Dr. Roger Welton is the President and chief veterinarian at Maybeck Animal Hospital in West Melbourne Florida, as well as CEO of the veterinary advice and health management website

Friday, October 30, 2009

Keep your pets safe this Halloween

Transcript of personal comment from this episode of The Web-DVM:

In my personal comment today, on the eve of Halloween, I wish to educate owners on potential dangers that this holiday can pose to our pets. Beginning with cats, especially darkly colored or black cats, there are historical and deep seeded superstitions among some people regarding black cats' association with bad omens or witchcraft on Halloween. Unfortunately, this premise not uncommonly leads to a few disturbed individuals that take these superstitions seriously to a point that they would do harm to a loose feline, especially if darkly colored. That is why in the days leading up to Halloween, the day itself, and for a few days after, it is recommended that you keep all cats indoors and out of harms way from superstitious loons that would wish to do them harm.

Next, let's talk about candy. This is less a problem with cats, but a very common problem with dogs getting into and feasting one or more stashes of candy. This can lead of course to GI disturbance, including vomiting and diarrhea, but can also lead to more serious consequences.

In the case of mass consumption, dogs typically will not take the time to spit out plastic wrappers, but will instead consume the candy, wrappers and all. If enough wrappers are consumed in a short period of time, they can get jammed up in the gut, and cause life threatening GI obstruction, resolvable only by surgical removal in many cases.

If large quantities of chocolate are consumed, there is a component of chocolate called thiobromine, that is liver toxic in certain concentration in dogs, making ingestion of large quantities of chocolate potentially life threatening.

If you are a pumpkin carver, know that dogs absolutely love the taste of pumpkin pulp, making them usually willing to consume as much as is available to eat. While this is not life threatening, pumpkin has a laxative effect on dogs, with large consumed quantities enough to give your dog a case of gas and diarrhea that could make your whole family's life miserable. I speak from experience on this one, with my wife an I to this day, still reminiscing about our mutt Lulu's pumpkin farts from the Halloween of 2001, when she dined on the guts of three carved pumpkins after getting into the garbage. It was a smell I will never forget, and seemed for go on for day without end!

So enjoy your your Halloween, to be sure, one of the most fun holidays for people and pets of all ages. To keep it safe for your pets, just be certain keep your cats inside, keep all candy out of reach of dogs, and do not leave pumpkin pulp accessible to your dogs.

Friday, October 23, 2009

You get what you pay for - pet health care is no exception

Transcript of personal comment of this episode of The Web-DVM:

In my personal comment today, I want to touch on a recent clearly evident shift in veterinary medicine, where we are finding ourselves increasingly less involved in preventive health care, with the paradigm having moved to where sick patients are representing a much greater percentage of our overall caseload. In a still troubling economic climate, many pet owners have either foregone preventive health care altogether, or have chosen to go to so called discount clinics, where they can get spays, neuters, and vaccines at bargain basement prices.

It is the latter that I want to focus on today, where health care is just like anything else: you usually get what you pay for. With regard to vaccines, inside anonymous sources have indicated that many of these discount clinics do not select their vaccines based on their being the best and safest, but instead coerce the veterinary pharmaceuticals into bidding wars, where the lowest bidder wins their account. As one may expect, the lowest bidder often tends to be a company that has a less than stellar track records with vaccine effectiveness, quality control, and safety.

Regarding spays and neuters, I have been informed by former staff of some of these places, that they save money by using one surgical instrument pack for multiple patients, rather than have a freshly cleaned, sterilized pack for each individual patient. I have been informed that they use outdated and less tolerated anesthetics and stitching materials because they are cheap, do not utilize the best quality and safest pain management medications, or even forgo pain medication altogether.

Finally, because the doctors of these clinics work with such volume, there are reports that some do not take the time to scrub between surgeries, nor cap, mask, or gown for each surgery, opting instead to simply change gloves.

I can clearly sympathize with people wishing to save money wherever they can in these trying economic times, but if you consider your pet a cherished family member as most of our subscribers and viewers do, saving by utilizing discount spay/neuter/vaccine clinics may not be the best place to save a buck.
Reputable full service veterinary clinics do not skimp on anesthetics, suture materials, advanced monitoring equipment, and quality vaccines. We utilize the gold standard pain management protocols and medicines, have a freshly sterilized surgical pack for each individual patient, and scrub, cap, mask, and gown for each surgery.
For me, compromising this standard of care to slash costs in order to get greater volume in my practice is not worth the price that my patients could pay, and the degree to which my conscience would suffer.

So I caution that the next time you may consider using a discount spay/neuter/vaccine clinic, that if it seems to good to be true, it probably is. Good medicine costs more, and for me, good medicine is not negotiable.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Way to go Philadelphia Eagles

From this week's episode of The Web-DVM:

- From cat food recall story, date codes for Premier Edge cat food brands recall:

RAF0501A22X 18lb
RAF0501A2X 6 lb.,
RAH0501A22X 18 lb.
RAH0501A2X 6lb.

- Transcript from personal comment:

In my personal comment today, I just want to say, "Way to go Philadelphia Eagles!" And I do not say that in any football sense of the phrase.

As reported by the, The Philadelphia Eagles are putting their money where their mouth is. Just a few months after catching flack for signing convicted dog felon, Michael Vick, the Eagles are making good on a promise to support animal welfare groups.

Earlier this week, the team unveiled a program called TAWK, which stands for Treating Animals With Kindness. According to the Eagles' TAWK press release, the initiative focuses on public education and awareness to reduce the abuse of animals, promote responsible adoption, encourage spay and neuter and put an end to dog fighting.

TAWK was developed in collaboration with animal welfare experts and will benefit from the reach of the Philadelphia Eagles' brand to advocate for responsible care and treatment of animals in the region and beyond.

Christina Lurie, Eagles Owner and Eagles Youth Partnership President Joe Banner, in conjunction with the heads of various animal welfare groups, together shared the details of the initiative and announced a half million dollar commitment for a grant program to support animal welfare organizations.

The Eagles organization will provide a matching grant of $50,000 each for three initial programs:

-- End Dogfighting Program - Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) will bring their grassroots, preventative method to tackle dogfighting in Philadelphia,

-- Low-cost Spay and Neuter Facility - Philadelphia Animal Welfare Society (PAWS) to support the construction of a low-cost spay and neuter facility in Philadelphia,

-- Mobile Veterinary Clinic - Berks County Humane Society to support their new mobile veterinary clinic that will serve neighborhoods in Reading, Chester and parts of Philadelphia, PA.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Home construction encroachment into wildlife habitats displaces animals and puts people and pets in danger.

Transcript of personal comment from this episode of The Web-DVM:

My personal comment tonight has to do with the abduction of Jessica Simpson's dog by a coyote, an occurrence that is becoming increasingly common in California. In addition to California, we are seeing attacks by wild predators to pets and small children in residential neighborhoods all over the country. Here in my home state of Florida, we regularly hear of attacks from bobcats, wild boars, alligators, and black bears.

Of course when this occurs to a beloved pet or child, our first natural reaction is severe anger and even violence toward the animal that perpetrated an attack. However, when one really thinks about it, is neither rational nor reasonable to blame wild animals for what they instinctively do: seek out prey in order to feed themselves and their young.

As we humans continue to expand into their natural habitats as we extend our settlements building ever further into their hunting territories, we risk paying the consequences.

To continue to build into the natural habitats of our wildlife, however, we do more than just place our pets and children in danger, we displace thousands of wild animals who are often killed as they encroach into what was once their hunting grounds.

To indiscriminately build residential neighborhoods in old forests and/or ever closer to wildlife preserves, places the future human inhabitants and their pets in danger, but also tragically displaces thousands of wildlife species, many of which are not even predators that are dangerous to man or pet.

So we should not aim our vitriol toward the coyotes, bobcats, black bears, or wild boars when these incidents occur. We should instead advocate for common sense home building that provides the housing needs of a growing population, while remaining sensitive to avoiding wildlife rich woods and forests.

Why anyone is building new homes right now is beyond me anyway. With a foreclosure market that has rendered our homes virtually worthless, what is the economical sense in BUlLDING MORE HOMES? Yet it is happening right here in my local jurisdiction with prominent developers currently making a pitch to our town council to build more houses in an area rich in wildlife preserves - a beautiful treasure which brought many of us here in the first place and want to keep it that way!

A little common sense for our safety and regard for our nation's wildlife treasures can go a long way. Stay involved and informed with your local government, and make your voice heard when they choose to build irresponsibly close to or within wildlife areas.

Friday, September 25, 2009

To whoever gets my dog

Transcript from today's episode of The Web-DVM:

We have a change in our usual program format today, which is the fault of my Brother-In-Law, John. A couple of days ago, John sent me an e-mail of a short story written in the first person by a young man who had just adopted a dog from a local shelter. The story moved me in such a profound way, that I decided to share it with you in lieu of the news, my personal comment, and even our pet joke of the week.

The author of the story is unknown, and I have been unable to verify whether this story is true or not, but that is not really what is important about this tale.

What is important is this story's ever so real message of the powerful bond between people and dogs, of undying love, compassion, and courage.

I hope I can get through sharing it with you without getting choked up, as I did the first time I read it.

To Whoever Gets My Dog

They told me the big black Lab's name was Reggie as I looked at him lying in his pen. The shelter was clean, and the people really friendly.

I'd only been in the area for six months, but everywhere I went in the small college town, people were welcoming and open. Everyone waves when you pass them on the street.

But something was still missing as I attempted to settle in to my new life here, and I thought a dog couldn't hurt. Give me someone to talk to.

And I had just seen Reggie's advertisement on the local news. The shelter said they had received numerous calls right after, but they said the people who had come down to see him just didn't look like "Lab people," whatever that meant. They must've thought I did.

But at first, I thought the shelter had misjudged me in giving me Reggie and his things, which consisted of a dog pad, bag of toys almost all of which were brand new tennis balls, his dishes, and a sealed letter from his previous owner. See, Reggie and I didn't really hit it off when we got home. We struggled for two weeks (which is how long the shelter told me to give him to adjust to his new home). Maybe it was the fact that I was trying to adjust, too. Maybe we were too much alike.

For some reason, his stuff (except for the tennis balls - he wouldn't go anywhere without two stuffed in his mouth) got tossed in with all of my other unpacked boxes. I guess I didn't really think he'd need all his old stuff, that I'd get him new things once he settled in. But it became pretty clear pretty soon that he wasn't going to.

I tried the normal commands the shelter told me he knew, ones like "sit" and "stay" and "come" and "heel," and he'd follow them - when he felt like it. He never really seemed to listen when I called his name - sure, he'd look in my direction after the fourth or fifth time I said it, but then he'd just go back to doing whatever. When I'd ask again, you could almost see him sigh and then grudgingly obey.

This just wasn't going to work. He chewed a couple shoes and some unpacked boxes. I was a little too stern with him and he resented it, I could tell.

The friction got so bad that I couldn't wait for the two weeks to be up, and when it was, I was in full-on search mode for my cellphone amid all of my unpacked stuff. I remembered leaving it on the stack of boxes for the guest room, but I also mumbled, rather cynically, that the "damn dog probably hid it on me."

Finally I found it, but before I could punch up the shelter's number, I also found his pad and other toys from the shelter. I tossed the pad in Reggie's direction and he snuffed it and wagged, some of the most enthusiasm I'd seen since bringing him home. But then I called, "Hey, Reggie, you like that? Come here and I'll give you a treat." Instead, he sort of glanced in my direction - maybe "glared" is more accurate - and then gave a discontented sigh and flopped down. With his back to me.

Well, that's not going to do it either, I thought. And I punched the shelter phone number.

But I hung up when I saw the sealed envelope. I had completely forgotten about that, too.

"Okay, Reggie," I said out loud, "let's see if your previous owner has any advice."...........

The letter read;

To Whoever Gets My Dog:

Well, I can't say that I'm happy you're reading this, a letter I told the shelter could only be opened by Reggie's new owner.

I'm not even happy writing it. If you're reading this, it means I just got back from my last car ride with my Lab after dropping him off at the shelter. He knew something was different. I have packed up his pad and toys before and set them by the back door before a trip, but this time... it's like he knew something was wrong. And something is wrong... which is why I have to go to try to make it right.

So let me tell you about my Lab in the hopes that it will help you bond with him and he with you.

First, he loves tennis balls... the more the merrier.

Sometimes I think he's part squirrel, the way he hordes them.

He usually always has two in his mouth, and he tries to get a third in there. Hasn't done it yet.

Doesn't matter where you throw them, he'll bound after it, so be careful - really don't do it by any roads. I made that mistake once, and it almost cost him dearly..

Next, commands. Maybe the shelter staff already told you, but I'll go over them again: Reggie knows the obvious ones - "sit," "stay," "come," "heel" He knows hand signals:

"back" to turn around and go back when you put your hand straight up; and "over" if you put your hand out right or left. "Shake" for shaking water off, and "paw" for a high-five. He does "down" when he feels like lying down - I bet you could work on that with him some more. He knows "ball" and "food" and "bone" and "treat" like nobody's business.

I trained Reggie with small food treats.
Nothing opens his ears like little pieces of hot dog.

Feeding schedule: twice a day, once about seven in the morning, and again at six in the evening.

Regular store-bought stuff; the shelter has the brand.

He's up on his shots.

Call the clinic on 9th Street and update his info with yours; they'll make sure to send you reminders for when he's due. Be forewarned: Reggie hates the vet.

Good luck getting him in the car - I don't know how he knows when it's time to go to the vet, but he knows.

Finally, give him some time.

I've never been married, so it's only been Reggie and me for his whole life. He's gone everywhere with me, so please include him on your daily car rides if you can. He sits well in the backseat, and he doesn't bark or complain. He just loves to be around people, and me most especially.

Which means that this transition is going to be hard, with him going to live with someone new. And that's why I need to share one more bit of info with you.....

His name's not Reggie.

I don't know what made me do it, but when I dropped him off at the shelter, I told them his name was Reggie. He's a smart dog, he'll get used to it and will respond to it, of that I have no doubt. But I just couldn't bear to give them his real name. For me to do that, it seemed so final, that handing him over to the shelter was as good as me admitting that I'd never see him again. And if I end up coming back, getting him, and tearing up this letter, it means everything's fine. But if someone else is reading it, well... well it means that his new owner should know his real name.. It'll help you bond with him. Who knows, maybe you'll even notice a change in his demeanor if he's been giving you problems.

His real name is Tank. Because that is what I drive.

Again, if you're reading this and you're from the area, maybe my name has been on the news. I told the shelter that they couldn't make "Reggie" available for adoption until they received word from my company commander. See, my parents are gone, I have no siblings, no one I could've left Tank with... and it was my only real request of the Army upon my deployment to Iraq, that they make one phone call to the shelter in the "event"... to tell them that Tank could be put up for adoption. Luckily, my colonel is a dog guy, too, and he knew where my platoon was headed. He said he'd do it personally. And if you're reading this, then he made good on his word.

Well, this letter is getting to downright depressing, even though, frankly, I'm just writing it for my dog. I couldn't imagine if I was writing it for a wife and kids and family. But still, Tank has been my family for the last six years, almost as long as the Army has been my family.

And now I hope and pray that you make him part of your family and that he will adjust and come to love you the same way he loved me.

That unconditional love from a dog is what I took with me to Iraq as an inspiration to do something selfless, to protect innocent people from those who would do terrible things... and to keep those terrible people from coming over here. If I had to give up Tank in order to do it, I am glad to have done so. He was my example of service and of love. I hope I honored him by my service to my country and comrades.

All right, that's enough.

I deploy this evening and have to drop this letter off at the shelter.

I don't think I'll say another good-bye to Tank, though. I cried too much the first time. Maybe I'll peek in on him and see if he finally got that third tennis ball in his mouth.

Good luck with Tank.

Give him a good home, and give him an extra kiss goodnight - every night - from me."

Thank you, Paul Mallory

I folded the letter and slipped it back in the envelope. Sure I had heard of Paul Mallory, everyone in town knew him, even new people like me. Local kid, killed in Iraq a few months ago and posthumously earning the Silver Star when he gave his life to save three buddies. Flags had been at half-mast all summer.

I leaned forward in my chair and rested my elbows on my knees, staring at the dog.

"Hey, Tank," I said quietly.

The dog's head whipped up, his ears cocked and his eyes bright. "C'mere boy."

He was instantly on his feet, his nails clicking on the hardwood floor. He sat in front of me, his head tilted, searching for the name he hadn't heard in months..

"Tank," I whispered. His tail swished.

I kept whispering his name, over and over, and each time, his ears lowered, his eyes softened, and his posture relaxed as a wave of contentment just seemed to flood him. I stroked his ears, rubbed his shoulders, buried my face into his scruff and hugged him.

"It's me now, Tank, just you and me. Your old pal gave you to me." Tank reached up and licked my cheek. "So what daya say we play some ball. His ears perked again.

"Yeah Ball You like that Ball."

Tank tore from my hands and disappeared in the next room. And when he came back......he had three tennis balls in his mouth.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Pit Bull ban punishes dogs and people for the crimes of bad owners

Personal comment transcript from this episode of The Web-DVM:

My personal comment this week has to do with the results of our most recent web poll about what the future fate of pit bulls should be in this country, posted in the wake of several counties across the nation imposing bans on ownership of pit bulls. The choices regarding their fate were 1.) Pit Bulls Are inherently dangerous dogs that should be banned, 2.) Pits can be as gentle as any other breed when raised in a loving, caring environment, but made dangerous by bad people that raise them to be that way - and therefore should not be banned, and finally, 3.) Pits are not inherently dangerous dogs, but because they can be trained to be very dangerous when raised by the wrong people, special permits should be required for ownership. The results were as follows: 25% agreed that as inherently dangerous dogs pits should be banned, 25% agreed that they are no more inherently dangerous any other dog breed when raised in the right environment and therefore should not be banned, and the remaining 50% of participants felt that they should not be banned, but because they can be trained in such a manner that they can be very dangerous, special permits should be required for pit bull ownership.

I personally do not agree with any of these web poll choices in their entirety. Pit Bulls are not inherently dangerous dogs as evidenced by the countless numbers of Pits I see as patients that are as gentle and loving as the sweetest of any family dogs in the hands of loving and caring owners. It is true that a higher percentage of these dogs seem to have a greater potential to exhibit aggression toward other dogs, probably due to this trait having been favored in many of their breeding lines, but they still do not even approximate the dog aggressive potential of Jack Russell Terriers, Chihuahuas, Chow Chows, German Shepherds, and many other breeds known for their propensity to not play well with their own kind. Yet no one is calling for the banning of all of these other breeds.

This issue is not really about a particular breed of dog, as any dog raised with torment and cruelty has the potential to be raised to be dangerous. It just so happens that due to the extraordinary strength of pit bulls, more so than most other breeds, they are raised in this fashion for fighting in a ring for profit, or to be kept for intimidation to protect homes or businesses. This issue really then is more about holding dog owners accountable for the fate of their dogs, regardless of breed, period.

I did a report on the city of Calgary, Canada on the old radio show some time ago, that highlighted the progressive nature of their animal control program, and how it starts with holding the pet owner primarily accountable for what becomes of their pets. In Calgary, every dog must have a license and microchip so that if it is found repeatedly loose in a neighborhood, having bitten someone, having attacked another dog, eliminated on public or others' private property, abused or abandoned, the owner is held accountable in the court of law.

If a dog is found to not have both a license and microchip, stiff fines are imposed. When they are found to not be responsible pet owners, they are fined and even jailed. To decrease unwanted animals and the tragedy of overcrowded shelters and euthanasia due to overpopulation, licenses for unaltered animals costs a great deal more than licenses for those spayed and neutered.

The result of their program? It works. They absolutely put any single US city to shame with regard to having dramatically lower rates of homeless dogs, dog bites, unwanted dogs, and euthanasia due to overcrowded shelters. Law enforcement in Calgary has the tools to trace dogs raised to be aggressive and left loose to terrorize neighborhoods back to the owners, to place the punishment where it belongs - the irresponsible human idiots that put dogs in these circumstances.

To try to make the country safer from the consequences of irresponsible and even sadistic dog ownership is asinine! A ban on a breed of dog punishes the thousands of responsible and caring Pit Bull owners that have well adjusted, sweet family dogs, whose loss from an absurd ban would be devastating and tragic. The source of this problem is not a breed, it is a species, the human species. It is time to follow Calgary's lead and start holding them accountable.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

The Complete Singles Guide To Being A Dog Owner

Personal comment transcript from this episode of The Web-DVM:

In my personal comment today, I have just recently finished reading a lovely little book titled, The Complete Singles Guide To Being A Dog Owner. As a former single dog owner myself, I found this book tremendously helpful in preparing for the responsibility of dog ownership for single people - I certainly wish I'd had a copy of this book when I adopted my first dog as a 22 year old single young man. As singles increasingly are sharing their homes with dogs, they face unique challenges, and this guide answers all the questions you should ask before and after bringing home a new dog. Whether you have adopted an adult dog or are raising a puppy, Ms. Rosenfeld offers practical, reassuring advice based on her own extensive experience. A single herself, Ms. Rosenfeld reveals all you need to know to live happily ever after with the furry companion of you choice.

Having published a non-fiction how to book, myself, what I found most difficult was trying to keep the writing from devolving into sounding like some dry instruction manual. What I really enjoyed about this book is that, while the content is accurate, extremely helpful and relevant, Ms. Rosenfeld presents it in a light, almost conversational fashion. She includes interesting and funny tales to illustrate her points, and frequently places illustration tables that conveniently summarize all the points of a given chapter.

Author Betsy Rosenfeld is the go-to girl in Los Angeles when it comes to all things dog. She has dedicated her life to rescuing dogs, working with both local L.A.–based rescues as well as international animal aid organizations. She is the official Los Angeles representative for, as well as a regional council member of, IFAW (the International Fund for Animal Welfare), and she personally raised more than $35,000 for the group’s post–Hurricane Katrina efforts. She has recently launched www. lovethydog .com, a vibrant online community where dog lovers can connect and share stories and photos of their dogs as well as learn to care for their precious pooches. Betsy lives in Beverly Hills with her favorite dog, Bella, whom she found once upon a time running in traffic.

You can purchase her book by following the book link from, or keyword search her name on any of the online book sellers, such as

Friday, September 4, 2009

Web-DVM TV takes the place of Pet Chat Radio; first episode discusses new insights on canine and feline intelligence

In place of Pet Chat Radio, Web-DVM decided to go in another direction with an Internet television show, called "The Web-DVM," which like Pet Chat Radio is hosted by me. The format remains the same with some news, anecdotes, and commentary, only the new visual media provides visual aides to augment the content (and viewers will now have to actually look at me as I deliver the show), and each episode will be a bit more brief, kept under 11 minutes.

In our first broadcast earlier today, I discussed two separate stories, one pertaining to dogs and one to cats, where researchers made stunning observations of remarkable abilities that reflect a much higher intellect within these two species than previously suspected. If you have not yet had the chance to see the show, I would suggest you do so, as these stories are both fascinating, as well as the basis for my personal comment this week, which is that we should not make the tragic mistake of thinking that our pets are as primitive mentally as have and continue to assume. If they are intelligent and intuitive enough to perform the tasks that these reports describe, then it naturally follows that they also experience a complex range of emotions and awareness that accompanies this kind of higher intelligence. This includes elation at an owner’s return after being absent, contentment enjoying a pet, cuddle, or favorite treat, grieving from loss of a family member whether human or furry, stress from the loneliness of isolation, and fear of unfamiliar places or circumstances.

When taking on the responsibility of a pet, we need to understand that we take on responsibility for an intelligent, emotionally complex individual for years to come, with their only source of shelter, food, companionshipnad exercise primarily being us, the ones that chose to take the animals home, not the other way around.

It is not necessarily only people who are inherently dismissive of animals who adopt them on a whim and easily discard them when they deem them too expensive for inconvenient, who can these sensitive creatures harm by underestimating their intelligence and emotional awareness. Some well intentioned individuals that adopt a pet for the right reasons, do love animals, and consider them a responsibility, too foten end up having life circumstances, such as long hours at work, a difficult relationship or tough break up, or the addition of children, allow them to rationalize not taking the time to walk the dog, brush the kitty, or spend any real quality time with the animals. They use their changed life circumstances to rationalize that it is enough to provide food shelter, and water for their pets, losing sight of the fact that these are the basic necessities to be sure, but only one small part of pet welfare.

I am not suggesting that anyone neglect their children or careers so that the pet needs not sacrifice any Mommy or Daddy time, but I am suggesting that a pet owner should remain ever cognoscente of the fact that our pets are emotionally complex, intelligent creatures that yearn for stimulation, affection, companionship, and exercise, and as such, to make your best effort to give them whatever time you can spare to engage in these pursuits.

If they are smart enough to count to 5, learn hundreds of spoken words, and can learn to manipulate people and other animals to do their bidding, they can certainly feel, understand, and suffer from emotional neglect.

So fit in a pet or cuddle whenever you can, take a short walk, offer a yummy treat, or engage in a quick game of fetch. You don't have to sacrifice other important life pursuits to just make it a priority to regularly take a little time to give them the attention they live for. For in their eyes, you are all that matters, the sun rises and sets with you, and they are utterly grateful for any little bit of light you shine their way.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Shelters overwhelmed by pet abandonement due to economic hardship

During my perusing of the Internet for relevant animal news to report on Pet Chat Radio and this blog, I stumbled across an article by a local Nebraska newspaper, called the Beatrice Sun that inspired today's final news story and personal comment. The article is titled, "Animal Shelter Sees Boost In Cute and Cuddly." This title refers to Summer being typically known as “cat season” at the Beatrice Animal Shelter, with this year seems to be especially busy. Not only are young kittens being brought in at a rate of as many as 17 a day, but owners are finding it necessary to give up their pets due to financial hardship, according to Beatrice Humane Society Executive Director Gina Grone. She says, “We’re able to adopt the kittens out, but its becoming harder for us to adopt the adults. People come in wanting an adult cat, and then they see the kittens, and decide on one of them.” In order to help the adult cats, the animal shelter is offering free adoptions through Monday for cats older than one year.

Grone adds, “We’ve had a lot of strays come in that we know are someone’s pets. They are declawed, spayed or neutered, they are just a lot healthier than what you would normally see in a stray or feral cat. But people just aren’t coming in to claim them. I think it has a lot to do with the economy. It’s getting to the point where we have to make some hard decisions.”

As a result, the shelter is operating over-capacity, not just in the number of animals, but in resources. The shelter is in need of everything from basic cleaning supplies, to pet food and more volunteers. The shelter is also looking for foster homes. A foster family’s basic function is to teach the animal to socialize. The shelter is currently looking for a family who will take in an Australian shepherd mix, which gave birth to nine puppies on Tuesday.

Under the foster care program, the shelter provides all food and veterinarian services.

Even though this is the state of affairs of one little shelter in an isolated small town in middle America, I chose to showcase this report because this is seemingly reflective of the state of animal welfare nationwide, with similar circumstances being reported in my home county's local shelters, as well as many anecdotal reports across the country. The truth is this: economic hardship is causing an increase in animal abandonment with these owners citing lack of financial resources to properly care to these pets. What compounds the problem hugely is that the strain on shelters has increased considerably, while donations are down with people's earning potential diminished, and local governments slashing budgets due to their own financial distress. It is not only an animal control problem, but one that is truly heartbreaking at the level of those animals abandoned. Imagine the canine or feline that was used to a life of being kept fed, sheltered, and loved, suddenly thrust into an overcrowded shelter, forced to live in a small cage, then possibly later euthanized if not adopted within a certain period of time.

My personal comment today is really a rallying call to all people who live with compassion and love of animals that still make a good living and have the means to give back. Remain conscious always that everyone can do their little part to help. Becoming a foster parent to a death row shelter animal would be wonderful, working with the shelter and other resources to place these animals, meanwhile providing a safe place for them to exist in the mean time. Even if this level of commitment is not for you, you can volunteer to help clean cages, donate cleaning supplies and pet food, donate money, buy candy from humane society candy machines, give to the Humane Society donation box at 7-11, and support local rescue groups - there are so many even in small cities such as the one I live, that so many unfortunately fail to notice. Ask veterinary clinics and local pet stores about these groups, contact them and offer your assistance, whatever small part you take, whether as foster, donation of money, food, supplies, or volunteer work, any little offering is one little part of the solution.

Indirectly, educate people about the plight of overcrowded shelters and the animals in them, steer them away from buying animals, instead opting to adopt and rescue from shelters. If not convinced, bring them down to a local shelter so that they can see for themselves the number of animals that are denied a home every time someone opts to buy a purposely bred animal for someone elses profit.

There are many ways that we can help to relieve this situation and do our part to turn this around. Those of us that care enough to sit around and complain about it need to put our money where our mouths are, get off our rear ends, and find out what we can do to help in whatever ways we are able and willing.

Roger Welton
Founder, Web-DVM

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Should Michael Vick have been allowed back into the NFL?

I want to start today by dedicating this blog post and this week's Pet Chat Radio broadcast to our late beloved Devon Rex cat, Mariano, known affectionately by family and friends simply as Mo. Mo was just shy of two years of age when just last week, he became very ill with a disease that affected his liver, but whose cause could not be confirmed until after we lost him after several days of intensive care hospitalization. Ultimately, given failure to respond to aggressive treatment for other common diseases of the feline liver, combined with evidence found on post mortem examination, it is most likely that Mo fell victim to one of the most ambiguous, frustrating, yet imminently deadly viral disease in cats, Feline Infectious Peritonitis, most commonly called FIP.

The Devon Rex breed is perhaps the most tolerant, gentle, social, and intelligent breeds of feline I have had the pleasure to experience. Mo was special even for the breed, from his love of our many dogs, following them and cuddling with them as if he were just another member of the pack, to not only his tolerance of my toddler son, but actively seeking out his interaction. When not with the dogs, frolicking with my son, or playing in our pool's waterfall, the other place you could count on Mo being, was in one of our laps.

A prince among cats, a source of love, joy, and amusement in all the lives he touched - friends and family alike loved Mo - even those who were not cat people could not help but love Mo, the short time he spent this earth will forever leave an everlasting impression on the hearts of all that had the privilege to know him. We will always love you Mo, and we thank you for the joy you brought us.

Before getting to the main portion of the program, I wish to quickly remind you all of my appearance last week on the Win Without Competing talk show with Dr. Arlene Barro. I really enjoyed the experience, with Dr. Barro having asked me questions that took me way back to several experiences and circumstances that led me to where I am and what I am doing today. We tend to forget the path that drove us to our adult lives and careers once fully immersed, and the manner in which Dr. Barro led me to recall key points in my journey has been enlightening to both many of my readers and listeners, as well as myself. In case you missed it and are interested in checking it out, here is the link:

On to our feature topic and subject of my personal comment on Pet Chat Radio this week, Michael Vick having recently inked a deal to serve in a back up or utility quarterback role for the Philadelphia Eagles. Many people, some Eagles fans included, feel that this man has no business being back in the NFL after the horrific animal cruelty crimes associated with a dog fighting operation he both financed and provided facilities for, he was convicted of and recently finished serving out a sentence for.

The question is, was the NFL commissioner wrong in letting Vick be reinstated into the NFL? Is it not enough that he served out his punishment as dictated by our system of law, in so doing lost three years of prime playing years, lost his status as the Atlanta Falcons franchise quarterback and lucrative contract that came with that, and lost all of his lucrative endorsements? Do the gravity of his crimes also necessitate banning the man from the NFL for life, keeping him from the only means he has ever known to earn a living?

These are very difficult questions indeed. Michael Vick's crimes are indeed atrocious when considered by anyone with any sense of decency and compassion. The atrocities that occurred at his compound of cruelty with his consent and financial backing, as well as their aftermath, after all are very difficult to even consider forgiving, let alone give this man the opportunity to be cheered by fans and gain some semblance of being a role model for our children.

On the other hand, if you believe in our criminal justice system, one that is flawed but still in my opinion the fairest and most effective in the world, one that supports the notion of paying one's debt to society, rehabilitation, and reintegration back into a law abiding society, are we right to advocate that we deny Mr. Vick the right to make a living? While I know that many will disagree with me on this, perhaps even be appalled with me given the nature of my profession, I agree with NFL commissioner Roger Goodell's decision to reinstate Michael Vick. I feel that the system dictates that we give the man that second chance.

Does this mean that I forgive and/or forget the horrible deeds that occurred at the hands of Michael Vick and his team of torturers? Absolutely not! I was one of the most vociferous bloggers attacking the man and his supporters back in 2006 when the news first broke. In fact, I do not know if there will ever be a day that I can look at the face of Michael Vick and not feel disgust and anger for the deeds he enabled, no matter what great acts he performs on and off the field in the coming years. I do believe, however, that the fact that our system levied the penalty it deemed appropriate, the time was served, and in the process Vick went bankrupt and became one of our nation's greatest pariahs, he earned the right to a second chance. Our system mandates this, as does the spirit of fairness of our nation.

Roger Welton, DVM
Founder, Web-DVM

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Win Without Competing!

Hey folks, I am not posting anything new this week, as I dedicated the early part of the week preparing for my interview on the Blog Talk Radio show, "Win Without Competing," with host and author, Dr. Arlene Barro. She asked me some really neat questions about my life's path that got me to where I am and what I am doing today.

The broadcast aired live earlier this evening, but you can catch the archived version at this link, any time after 10:00 PM Eastern Standard Time tonight at this address:

Hope you enjoy it. I will be back next week with a new broadcast and blog post!

Roge Welton, DVM

Friday, August 7, 2009

Infant kidnapped by family dog home and in stable condition

A very relieving happy ending for the Smith family of Kentucky seems imminent, with the release of their infant son, injured after having been carried off into the woods by the family dog. But before expanding on this story and topic of my personal comment on this week's Pet Chat Radio, a quick reminder of my upcoming appearance on Dr. Arlene Barro's talk radio show, Win Without Competing, my role will have changed, as I will be the one being interviewed live by host, Dr. Barro. The live broadcast will be Wednesday, August 12, 2009, and you can listen to it at:

Moving along to my personal comment this week, which is related to the infant kidnapping by the family dog in Kentucky, using the same terminology that most media outlets are using in reference to this story. If you are not familiar with this story, you may access my original report on this story from the Archived Broadcast section of Pet Chat Radio's home page, and select the July 24, 2009 broadcast.

The truth is, this was not a kidnapping, but a dog simply acting in a manner of instinct, which was to carry her “pup” off to a place to care for it. With a human infant not being a puppy of course, she inadvertently caused this infant great harm. Now that we know that the infant is home and expected to make a full recovery, I feel more comfortable about commenting on the situation.

Let me begin by stating that my thoughts and prayers go out to the Smith family, that their baby does in fact make a full recovery and goes on to live a happy, care free life, and that the family can pull together to put this traumatic ordeal to rest. As a parent of a toddler, I know the love one feels for a child, and know the fear and stress one feels when a child is sick or injured.

Moving forward, while I am certain that the Smiths learned a painful yet valuable lesson here, we should all take away some lessons as well. First and foremost, is that, no matter how people like and part of the family our pets may be, instinct sometimes takes over, and that instinct can be dangerous to small children. As such, infants, toddlers, and small children should never be left unsupervised with a family pet, even for a second. No pet should ever have free access to a small child when a parent is not around to control and supervise the situation.

When my wife and I brought our little baby Austin home 14 months ago, when he spent his first 5 months sleeping in the bassinet attached to the side of our bed, no pets were allowed in the bedroom, for fear that a curious dog may jostle the bassinet, or a curious cat may get in bed with the boy. Once he moved to his nursery, he slept and continues to sleep with the door closed, and with a child safety device on the door handle so a a cat cannot turn the handle and let himself in – yes, our Devon Rex, Mo taught himself how to let himself into any room in the house by jumping up and pulling down the handle with his paw – very funny, amusing, and frankly, quite impressive on the part of our cat, but not allowed or acceptable when it comes to him potentially jumping into the crib with our little boy.

Play between Austin and the dogs is always closely supervised so that we may quickly step in, in the event that a pet acts inappropriately toward the toddler, or if the toddler starts to get too rough or grabby with the pets. When we cannot actively monitor the situation, the baby either plays in his play pen, or the dogs are locked out of the living room with baby gates.

These are precautions every household with pets and small children that interact should take. One lapse of judgment or attention, can lead to dangerous, even tragic circumstances, I don’t care how perfectly gentle your think you dog is.

The other lesson I think we should take from this incident, is that wolves and wolf hybrids should not be allowed to be kept as pets, and certainly should not ever be purposefully bred. Let me be clear that while the domestic dog was descended from the wolf, wolves are NOT dogs, as much as they may seem to be. They have a deeply ingrained wild instinct, making them difficult to train, ready engage in testing with dominance behavior, unpredictable, and often acting on strong instinct, as was the case with Dakota the family dog, herself a wolf hybrid. For these reasons keeping wolves and wolf hybrids as pets is illegal in many states, and for good reason.

That said, it is not the fault of these animals that they were born as they and with us now, and these animals deserve guardianship. However, potential homes for these dogs should be carefully scrutinized, with potential guardians interested in rescuing one of these dogs well versed in canine behavior, and live in a home with no young children, which is the type of home that Dakota will end up in.

Roger Welton, DVM
Founder, Web-DVM

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Florida's Gentle Giant

Before addressing the main topic of this week's Pet Chat Radio personal comment and subject of this week's blog entry, I want to first mention that our special guest this week on Pet Chat Radio is Rob Rosenberg, pharmaceutical sales representative for a large veterinary pharmaceutical company. In my interview with Rob, he shares some very interesting insights into this prevalent aspect of the veterinary industry. Also, I wanted to give ample notice for my appearance on Dr. Arlene Barro's talk radio show, Win Without Competing, my role will have changed, as I will be the one being interviewed live by host, Dr. Barro. The live broadcast will be Wednesday, August 12, 2009, and you can listen to it at:

On to my personal comment, as I have mentioned, I was just vacationing in the Florida Keys, the biggest enjoyment of which my wife and I derive from the natural beauty of the landscape and diverse and beautiful wildlife. From snorkeling the breathtaking coral reefs and taking in the diverse sea life, to kayaking the mangroves and feeding the tarpon at Robby's Marina, it is the unique and diverse wildlife that keeps us going back (of course, the charming resorts, great food, and gorgeous sunsets don't hurt). Of all the wildlife we see in the Keys and even up here occasionally in the Space coast, none are more captivating than the Manatee.

These gentle giants, and Florida's official state marine mammals, are actually a large aquatic relative of the elephant. They are grayish brown in color with medium sized, black, expressive eyes and have thick, wrinkled skin on which there is often a growth of algae. Their front flippers help them steer or sometimes crawl through shallow water. They also have powerful flat tails that help propel them through the water. Despite their lack of outer ears, manatees seem to hear quite well.

Manatees can be found typically in the warm waters of shallow rivers, bays, estuaries and coastal waters, rarely going into water that is below 68 degrees Fahrenheit. Well known for their gentle, slow-moving nature, manatees have also been known to body surf or barrel roll when playing, and often are playful and curious with people, commonly swimming up to boats, kayaks and even swimmers for up close interaction.

As adults, Manatees are about 10-12 feet long and weigh between 1500 - 1800 pounds, supporting this bulk with an exclusive herbivorous diet of marine and freshwater plants. Their life span in the wild is about 50 - 60 years of age. The largest population of Manatees is in Florida, where they number about 3000.

Unfortunately this subtropical treasure faces many threats, including destruction and degradation of their coastal and freshwater habitats. The leading known cause of death is by boat strikes; propellers and hulls can inflict serious or mortal wounds. Most manatees have a pattern of scars on their backs or tails after having survived collisions with boats. Scientists often use these patterns to identify individuals. They have also been found crushed or drowned in flood-control gates and suffer harm from exposure to toxic red tide. In addition, a large number of manatees die from unknown causes each year.

Fortunately, although numbers have gradually recovered in recent years, Manatees remain a protected species, listed still as a federal endangered species.

Just one glance at one of these huge yet surprisingly graceful, gentle creatures, and one's heart is instantly endeared to them. I encourage all of my blog readers and radio show listeners to take interest in their continued protection and preservation. To find out how you can do your small part to help this magnificent animal, visit the Save the Manatee Club at:

Roger Welton, DVM
Founder, Web-DVM

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Alaska's Wildlife Can Breathe A Sigh Of Relief - Hopefully?

Before delving into my personal comment for this week, I want to remind our readers to listen to this week's Pet Chat Radio broadcast, which begins with a wonderfully informative interview with master groomer, Heather Shultz, who kindly took the time to offer invaluable insights into the art and career of pet grooming. There is so much more to this profession than most realize, as Heather so eloquently explains in our interview!

Back to my personal comment and subject of this post, I just wanted to touch on Sarah Palin’s resignation. While this is a political story really, and politics have little place in our broadcast and this blog (we learned the hard way during this past election!), this does pertain to animals directly, and that is, apart from partisan politics, from a wildlife standpoint, perhaps wildlife advocates of Alaska can breathe a bit easier with this revelation. From a wildlife perspective strictly, her policies have been abysmal at best.

As reported by a September 4, 2008 Associated Press article titled, "Environmentalists say Palin's record on wildlife are as harsh as Alaska itself," Sarah Palin's policies and record clearly illustrate little regard for wildlife and the environment. Beginning with her time at the National Governors Association conference spent primarily making her case to Interior Secretary Dirk Kempthorne against classifying the polar bear as a threatened species, Sarah Palin has continually maintained troublingly dismissive environmental and wildlife policies. Some months later, she once again confronted Dirk Kempthorne, arguing against even the Bush administration that they, "didn't use the best science in concluding that without further protection, the polar bear faces eventual extinction because of disappearing sea ice as the result of global warming."

During her months of governor of Alaska, Palin had opposed federal marine scientists who concluded that the Cook Inlet Beluga Whale needs protection under the federal Endangered Species Act. Most appallingly, Palin has defended the right of Alaska to shoot wolves from the air for the benefit of boosting the populations of moose and caribou herds - not for the sake of the moose and caribou, but for the sole purpose of leaving more live moose and caribou for the human sport hunters to kill! Interestingly, this is a view that is contrary to that of her former running mate John McCain. Finally, Palin remains skeptical that human created greenhouse emissions are responsible for the dramatic acceleration of global warming in this century.

As a result of her harsh environmental and wildlife policies, environmentalists have nicknamed Palin the "Killa from Wasilla," and John Toppenberg, the director of the Alaska Wildlife Alliance, has said that, "Her philosophy from our perspective is cut, kill, dig and drill," and that she is "in the Stone Age of wildlife management and is very opposed to utilizing accepted science."

Now of course, I know nothing of her replacement’s wildlife policies and it is difficult to envision worse, we have to retain some feeling of at least there is the potential for respite, that Alaska’s wildlife powers that be will at least gather or begin to regain some reverence for one of our nation’s most precious wildlife havens.

Roger Welton, DVM
Founder, Web-DVM