The Animal Doctor

A Shameful Drug Company

The ever-increasing cost of pharmaceuticals in the United States for both humans and companion animals is a top political issue that has yet to be remedied.

Even worse is the reported flagrant disregard for public health by Zoetis Inc., the world's largest producer of medicine and vaccinations for pets and livestock. The company was once a subsidiary of Pfizer, the world's largest drug maker, but with Pfizer's spinoff of its stake in the firm, Zoetis is now an independent company. Zoetis sells products in more than 100 countries, and its operations outside the U.S. account for 50 percent of its total revenue.

Zoetis has agreed to stop promoting and selling antibiotics in animals’ feed in the U.S., but continues to promote and sell in India and other countries where this practice is not yet illegal. This non-medical use of antibiotics aims to help farmed animals grow faster, a practice now banned in the U.S. and European Union because of documented concerns over antibiotic resistance in bacteria that can harm people.

This puts the entire world community at risk at a time when life-saving antibiotics are becoming increasingly ineffective, due in large part to this profit-driven misuse by livestock and poultry producers, according to a Feb. 13 article in The Telegraph.

DEAR DR. FOX: I am writing about the piece you had in your paper on Nov. 18 by L.S. in Naples, Florida, regarding their dog, Jazzie. When I read this, I was brought to tears.

Remembering my own Chihuahua, Lexy, I think she understood every word that was ever said to her. She had a personality just like a person.

She understood when I didn’t feel well, and when I was ready to pitch a ball and have some fun. She brought so much joy to my life. I knew I would miss her when she was not around anymore, but I didn’t know it would be this hard.

She was my little angel and losing her is like losing a human family member. I will always remember my beautiful Lexy. -- D.T., Pilot Mountain, North Carolina

DEAR D.T.: I am publishing your tribute to your dog, Lexy -- who gave you the joy of unconditional love, the love of absolute trust and devotion -- in part because you are currently in Stokes County Jail in North Carolina. I wonder why you are incarcerated, but I never ask out of respect for your privacy, along with many others who write to me about animals and related issues from their jail cells and to whom I always reply.

Is there any community involvement available, such as fostering homeless dogs and cats and other often neglected animals? Some prisons have programs linked with a local animal shelter to foster and train dogs. Perhaps you have one you can join, or you can start one up in memory of Lexy, the dog who gave you the love you needed and who opened you to love.

I want to share with you this poem I wrote a few years ago:

DOGS TO ME

As an infant, I found every dog

a source of wonder and delight;

responsive presence, a joy

to touch and eye to eye engage.

As a boy, they were my best of friends,

more trustworthy than my peers,

incapable of betrayal:

more caring, playful and aware.

To this dog-grown man, every dog

is an open book to an open mind;

an open mind to an open heart;

a kindred spirit in canine form.

(Send all mail to animaldocfox@gmail.com 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 DrFoxVet.net.)

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