The Animal Doctor by Dr. Michael W. Fox

Readers Support One Health Worldview

DEAR DR. FOX: In case you need it, this is just to commend your speaking out about what’s wrong with this world, the environment, animal health and public health.

Keep up the fight. -- C.H., Naples, Florida

DEAR DR. FOX: I never paid attention to your column until I happened to notice your connecting animal advice to environmental issues. I don’t “own” any pets, but now I look for interesting tidbits in your articles that confirm my feelings about how the destruction of the natural world impacts all of our lives. It’s not ”politics” -- it’s reality. -- A.T., Stroudsburg, Pennsylvania

DEAR C.H AND A.T.: I appreciate your words of support. Anyone with even a grain of empathy certainly needs such support, given these times of an economically and socially disruptive pandemic, political pandemonium, corruption, disinformation and the in-our-faces climate and extinction crises.

The more one knows, the more one suffers -- especially when confronted by the denial and lies of others. Lies abound, whether about the suffering of factory-farmed animals, the starvation of marine animals from our overfishing and ocean pollution, or the desecration and decimation of wildlands and indigenous peoples around the world.

Once, humans could communicate with other species as gatherer-hunters who gave thanks to the lives they took to sustain their own. Once, farmers could read the weather and know when best to plant and harvest. But now this weather-wisdom has been supplanted by computer-assisted “precision” farming with climate-monitoring satellite telecommunication systems. All of this seems justified now, because we have created unpredictable climatic aberrations -- for instance, the devastating drought and fires in California and floods in China. Another dire warning is the recent derecho that destroyed so many homes and millions of acres of Iowa farmland.

Artificial intelligence is no substitute for natural intelligence and indigenous wisdom. It is a distraction from the tasks of recovering our sanity and relearning how to listen to the Earth. The One Health worldview calls for reducing our use of fossil fuels for food production and transportation, as well as limiting our over-reliance (in more affluent countries) on using animals as a primary food source. I see these issues as the proper, primary agenda of every government and of every conscientious consumer.

As the late Dr. Albert Schweitzer advised, ”A man is ethical only when life, as such, is sacred to him, that of plants and animals as that of his fellow men, and when he devotes himself helpfully to all life that is in need of help.”

DEAR DR. FOX: I saw your 2016 article that contained information on the American Kennel Club’s involvement with unethical breeders. My family suddenly lost our beloved dog Rex, an AKC-registered Rottweiler, at only 7 years old. He had multiple joint problems requiring surgery on all four limbs during his life, and ended up dying due to complications from a rare form of highly aggressive osteosarcoma.

We are devastated from losing him so quickly and so young. There were obvious genetic issues at the root of his joint problems, and likely his cancer. After his death, I am now realizing that his issues were in part due to breeding.

Do you have any recommendations on who I could contact (at AKC or otherwise) to try to prevent any future litters that may be impacted by the genetic issues my Rex experienced? -- A.M-W., Washington, D.C.

DEAR A.M-W.: I regret hearing of the demise of this poor dog and how much he must have suffered. Advances in genetic screening for inherited diseases in dogs offer the opportunity for ethical breeders of purebred dogs to improve the health and well-being of our canine companions.

I think it is long past time for the AKC to stop making money simply as a dog-breed registry (notably for puppy mill-bred dogs) and as a manufactured dog food industry-promoting dog show business, and get with the times. Anyone purchasing a purebred dog or “designer” breed (like a Labradoodle) should have a certificate of assurance of freedom from any inherited disease or anomaly that could lead to health issues at any time during that animal’s life. For details, see my article “Recovering Canine Health,” posted on my website (drfoxonehealthcom).

(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.)