DEAR DR. FOX: Thank you for your column regarding the crating of dogs. I am a supporter of the wonderful organization Dogs Deserve Better (www.dogsdeservebetter.org). DDB is a voice for chained and penned dogs. It started in Pennsylvania and has moved to Virginia, and it now occupies the former home of dog abuser Michael Vick.
I am not a religious person; I even call myself an atheist. But you know what? Almost every day I say a quick prayer to "whomever" to please relieve, release and rescue tethered dogs. With the rare exception, it is my only deliberate prayer. I don't even own a dog!
I am also sending you a big thank you for your piece about the breeding of cats. My husband and I do a small bit of private cat rescue. Once we learned about the pitiful situation for homeless cats, we, too, made it known that we deplore purchased cats, much less cats of recognized breeds. Your paragraph about no longer going to cat shows because you become too upset resonated very much with us. We are now the owners of eight cats, all rescued.
Thank you for being the voice for animals that you are. -- N.A., Stroudsburg, Pa.
DEAR N.A.: I always appreciate words of thanks and encouragement from readers of my newspaper column. I know that I offend some readers because of my concerns over how animals are treated more like commodities in these ethically and empathically challenged times.
So many animals become throwaway pets that wind up in shelters. Be they animals bred for the highly commercialized pet trade, the billions of animals crowded in factory farms being raised for human consumption or those who are wild and are shot for trophies -- to voice opposition to such exploitation is to be ridiculed by vested interests. So long as money rules over our own humanity and over those qualities of compassion and respect for life that make us human, the spiritual decline of our species will continue.
I believe that this decline is largely responsible for the grave global economic, climatic and population crises we face today, as I documented in my book "Inhumane Society: the American Way of Exploiting Animals." This "American Way" has regrettably become the way of the world, and the more we harm animals and the environment, the more we harm ourselves.
DEAR DR. FOX: I want to express my appreciation for your work. Thank you for relaying the importance of giving filtered water to dogs and, especially, cats. My two cats, 8-year-old littermates, seemed to be declining. They had frequent bouts of vomiting, refused to eat and seemed depressed. After changing their diets and many costly veterinary tests, they did not improve. They ate plenty of dry food and drank plenty of water. When I stopped giving them water from the tap, they seemed better. Now I give them pure bottled water, and, thanks to your advice, they are full of life and are more playful and active. -- W.Q., Winston-Salem, N.C.
DEAR W.Q.: Water quality is a major health concern for humans and other animals. It is one component of health care that is easily overlooked. But according to the evidence that I have compiled, it is a major public health issue that cannot be ignored. Visit my website, www.DrFoxVet.com, for more information.
CHILDREN WHO LIVE WITH DOGS MAY HAVE FEWER COLDS
Living with dogs decreases the susceptibility to respiratory syncytial virus, which causes the common cold and bronchiolitis. It appears that being around dogs trains children's immune systems to resist asthma, according to research from the University of California, San Francisco. Doctors have long recognized the decreased incidence of asthma and allergies in children sharing the same home environment with other animal species, especially with dogs.
(Send all mail to firstname.lastname@example.org or to Dr. Michael Fox in care of Universal Uclick, 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.com.)