The Animal Doctor

DEAR DR. FOX: The Institute for Humane Education launched its first crowdfunding campaign on Aug. 22 to support its Solutionary Program. It is completing the third year of a three-year pilot of this new program for middle and high schoolers in which students work collaboratively to address real-world problems of concern to them and devise solutions good for people, animals and the environment.

The campaign will go for one month, and the Institute's goal is to raise $50,000. Readers can donate at -- Zoe Weil, President and Co-Founder, Institute for Humane Education, Surry, Maine

DEAR Z.W.: Good to hear about this important project, which I am happy to help promote. I hope readers will support this as much as they can.

As I see it, the need for humane education is ever more urgent, considering how epidemic inhumanity has become in virtually every nation, state and community. This includes not only mistreatment of our own kind but of animals, many being pushed into extinction, and of the natural environment we share and upon which all of life depends.

Along with this ethical and humane crisis, there is an apocalyptic awakening, a tearing of the veil of human-centeredness (anthropocentrism) as more people are beginning to see and address harm-reduction and quality and respect for all life. In this regard, it is surely no coincidence that one of America’s biggest publishers, Time Inc., put out two publications this summer prominently displayed on magazine stands across the country: one under National Geographic’s flag, Inside Animal Minds, and the other, The Animal Mind -- A Time Special Edition, exploring “how they think, how they feel and how to understand them."

I am encouraged to read on your website that you offer the only graduate programs preparing people (teachers, activists, advocates) to be comprehensive humane educators connecting animal protection, environmental preservation and human rights; I am also impressed with your online courses and workshops and award-winning free resource center utilized by tens of thousands of educators at home and abroad. Thank you for your work.


Recently, Cambridge, Massachusetts, banned the retail sale of commercially bred pets.

The ordinance, passed by the Cambridge City Council, prohibits the commercial sale of birds, mammals, reptiles and amphibians in pet stores. Fish are not included in the ordinance but could be added at a later date.

Despite opposition from Petco and PetSmart, the two main pet shops in Cambridge, deputy director of advocacy for the Massachusetts Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Laura Hagen wrote, “Cambridge residents have been enthusiastically supportive (of the ban), indicating that they want to see Cambridge leave the inhumane animal supply chain.”

Animals in pet shops are often purchased by people who are unprepared or unable to provide for the animals’ needs. Many of those who are purchased from these stores will be abandoned or will die from neglect or improper care. Several pose a public health risk. Infants and those with impaired immune systems are especially at risk from zoonotic diseases. Countless numbers of animals suffer and die before they even reach the market, and wild populations are depleted as endangered species are pushed toward extinction.

(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.

Visit Dr. Fox's website at

More like The Animal Doctor