The Animal Doctor

DEAR READERS: No country can yet claim to be a fully democratic society, because democracy calls for inclusivity and equal consideration of the rights and interests of all. This “all” includes not only its citizens -- regardless of race, tribe, caste, gender, age and religion -- but all other species, plant and animal, especially those we consume and others we are driving to extinction. It also requires responsible care for the natural environment we all share.

From my perspective as a veterinarian and advocate of the One Health concept, our own health and the ultimate well-being of future generations are dependent upon a healthful environment, growing plant and animal populations and natural communities. The call for animal rights and eco-justice, too long ignored, now means that planetary CPR -- conservation, protection and restoration -- needs to be immediately implemented. Our commerce with the Earth must become one of mutually enhancing relationships, rather than relentless exploitation, destructive invasion and human infestation.

Climate change, ocean acidification, loss of cultural and biological diversity and pandemic diseases are evidence enough that democracy must become all-inclusive. “When we take care of the Earth, the Earth will take care of us,” a Pennsylvania Dutch farmer once told me, adding, “and that includes caring for the animals.”

DEAR DR. FOX: For people like me who are up in age and worried about who will take care of their animals when they pass away -- three rescue dogs, in my case -- there is a need for a solution.

My local Humane Society has not made a commitment. “No-kill” sanctuaries have said no.

What am I to do? Any suggestions are welcome -- my family cannot help. -- C.S., Bethesda, Maryland

DEAR C.S.: You have my sympathy, and I embrace you for considering the fate of your beloved canine companions, who may outlive you. I understand that your family cannot or chooses not to help, but I am dismayed that your attempts to find peace of mind and assurance that your dogs will be well cared for if you die before them bore no fruit within your community.

I would advise the executor of your estate to go online to find nonprofit organizations dedicated to finding foster homes and forever homes for companion animals -- especially for those belonging to people with terminal illness or having to go into a retirement or nursing home. There are many such networks of dedicated volunteers in most metropolitan areas across the U.S.; some take animals into their own homes on a temporary basis while the pet owners are hospitalized or sent abroad for military or other reasons.

I have urged active retirees to consider dedicating their time and effort to providing temporary foster homes and forever homes for animals in need in their communities by joining with other volunteers associated with legitimate charities dedicated to this humane purpose. I would have a person you trust visit any no-kill operation or animal sanctuary that may promise to take your dogs to determine how well the resident animals are being cared for, including veterinary attention as needed.


Blue Ridge Beef of Eatonton, Georgia, is voluntarily recalling one lot of its Turkey with Bone raw frozen product due to its potential to be contaminated with listeria monocytogenes. The affected product is sold in 2-pound chubs. Visit for more information.

(Send all mail to or to Dr. Michael Fox in care of Andrews McMeel Syndication, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106. The volume of mail received prohibits personal replies, but questions and comments of general interest will be discussed in future columns.

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