The Animal Doctor by Dr. Michael W. Fox

More on the Plight of Racehorses

Sally Jenkins’ May 9 Washington Post article, “Horse Racing Is Just a Gussied-up Vice,” documents some of the ethical and animal welfare concerns this industry needs to address, especially the fact that horses are raced at too young an age. They are not skeletally mature until they reach 4 years of age. However, prize money for 2-year-old racing continues to climb, making these immature horses a more profitable option, despite the huge risk of injury. Allowing them to properly mature would take too long and cost too much.

Most racehorses are retired by the end of their fourth year due to injury, chronic illness or an inability to win in higher classes. Most horses in training are confined to a stall for as long as 22 hours per day. Ninety percent of horses suffer from ulcers as a result of stress and an unnatural feeding regimen. Horses control their stomach acids by continuously grazing, which they are unable to do confined to a stall. Some 90 percent suffer from bleeding in the lungs due to overexertion when racing. For more details, visit

Horses have served humanity in countless ways for millennia. It is now time for us to cease their unwarranted, money-driven exploitation and suffering. Selectively breeding, cloning and drugging horses for speed, and then racing them when they are too young and therefore prone to injury, should be prosecuted as felony animal cruelty.

DEAR DR. FOX: I have had four outdoor rescue cats (who became indoor cats) over the years. I am also allergic to bee stings, so I had my outdoor deck screened in. All four cats have enjoyed the fresh air and being able to see the yard. The best part is that we can sit together and enjoy the view. It’s a great idea for cat and dog lovers. -- B.M., Rhinebeck, New York

DEAR B.M.: I hope cat owners will take note of your initiative.

No cat should ever be allowed to roam free. Cats really do enjoy the visual stimulation and ability to sniff the outdoors from a cat-proof deck. In a pinch, a very secure window screen and a padded shelf by the windowsill will give many apartment-dwelling cats some environmental enrichment. Hanging a bird-feeder close to the window or in front of the patio screen provides additional stimulation -- it seems to be more entertaining than frustrating for most cats, as they watch for hours.


Several cases of canine brucellosis were confirmed at a commercial small-dog breeding facility in Marion County, Iowa, according to state public health officials.

The disease is transmissible to humans. In dogs, it causes fever, lethargy and spontaneous abortion. In humans, it leads to fever, headache, joint pain and weakness.

All animals from the facility are undergoing testing, although State Veterinarian Jeff Kaisand advises testing for any dog obtained recently from a source in the county. (Des Moines Register, 5/13)

I would add the warning not to purchase a pup online from any commercial breeder.

(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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