The Animal Doctor by Dr. Michael W. Fox

Help Koalas and Others Suffering in Burning Australia

DEAR READERS: Suzanne Arnold, director of Australians for Animals, sent me the following urgent message:

”It’s beyond terrifying watching the extent and intensity of fires engulfing Australia. Smoke-filled cities and regions, desperate firefighters struggling to contain fires that are creating their own lightning and thunderstorms.

“Australia is an ancient, dry continent. Climate change is wreaking havoc. Australia’s wildlife has taken the brunt of bushfires and drought. The country is a crematorium for millions of birds, mammals, marsupials, insects, bats and echidnas -- all lost. Burned to death or left to die in smoldering forests because there’s no plan to allow rescues when needed. In reality, the death toll is going to be yet another national crisis. Some scientists estimate almost 500 million animals have perished.

“The federal minister for the environment has admitted that 8,000 koalas were burned to death in one area of New South Wales. Bushfires and drought are predicted to continue for months, leaving the koala facing extinction. At a time when female koalas are carrying young on their backs, the fires have had a devastating impact on the next generation. Many females have abandoned their young, since without food, shelter and water, they can’t care for them. Koalas rely on moisture and nutrients from the leaves of eucalyptus. It’s now commonplace to see desperately thirsty koalas come to humans begging for a drink -- extraordinary behavior for a wild animal.

“Small wildlife shelters are desperate for funds for koalas and other wildlife. (Fuel) costs are high because of long trips to collect leaves for koalas, or trips to wildlife hospitals. Donations can be made at givenow.com.au/koalacrisis or at PayPal (send to koalacrisis@gmail.com). All funds raised go directly to small shelters with no overhead/administrative costs for high-paid executives.”

DEAR DR. FOX: I am not a particularly religious person, but this past Christmas, my husband and I really felt that our dog Rexy, who died at age 15 this past summer, had come back to us. One night, we thought we felt him jump on our bed. Several times, we thought we heard him going up or down our hardwood stairs, where his paws and claws always made a clatter.

He was always excited, and loved Christmas, unwrapping presents and relatives coming to visit. Did he come back to join us in the celebrations, we wonder? He was much loved. -- N.V., Palo Alto, California

DEAR N.V., I have posted very many personal accounts of companion animals “returning” after death to be with their loved ones, generally for a very short time -- perhaps some kind of spiritual closure helping overcome grief. For details, see my article entitled “Animal Spirits: Companion Animal Communications from Across the Grave” on my website, drfoxonehealth.com.

I always appreciate hearing from other readers with similar experiences, and will post responses in a future column.

ILLINOIS CITY BANS SALE OF PURPOSE-BRED CATS AND DOGS IN PET STORES

The city of Rock Island, Illinois, has banned the sale of dogs and cats within city limits in an effort to discourage unscrupulous breeding operations. Dogs and cats in the city’s pet stores must be in need of adoption from an animal shelter or rescue organization. (WQAD-TV, Moline, Illinois, Dec. 18)

This kind of initiative, long overdue, is beginning to spread across America as people wake up to the facts of dog and cat suffering in the hands of many commercial breeders, the pet over-population crisis and the ultimate fact that animals are not commodities, but sentient souls like us.

CDC TRACES INFECTIOUS DISEASE OUTBREAK TO PET STORE PUPPIES

Campylobacter jejuni infections that have sickened at least 30 people (four of whom have been hospitalized) in 13 states were traced to puppies at pet stores, including Petland, the CDC reported.

The CDC suggests thoroughly washing hands after handling puppies, or their food or waste, and ensuring animals get regular veterinary care. (CNN, Dec. 18)

Clearly, these poor pups came from one original source -- a puppy mill -- before going to these market outlets across the U.S.

(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 DrFoxOneHealth.com.)