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