DEAR DR. FOX: Your recent article, "A Closer Examination of No-Kill Shelter Policies Is Needed," is a horrible example of the callous attitude that you have toward abandoned and feral cats.
You believe that all abandoned cats should be trapped and murdered, just for the crime of being unowned. I believe that my newspaper should stop carrying your column. A person who hates cats as much as you do cannot be trusted to give advice on any veterinary matter.
Your ignorance of the true policies of the trap-neuter-return movement leads you to make false claims that no-kill shelters "dump" cats on the street after they are spayed or neutered. This could not be farther from the truth. Cats are only returned to the place where they were living and being fed by a caretaker; now they are no longer reproducing, and they have been vaccinated against rabies. I have been running a no-kill nonprofit doing trap-neuter-return for 15 years, and have I have never dumped a cat anywhere.
In the ultimate irony, your daughter defends wolves while you advocate the murder of innocent cats. Dr. Fox, you blame cats for killing wildlife the same way wolf haters blame wolves for killing game animals. Humans are responsible for the decline of wildlife, not wolves or cats.
If you want to protect wildlife, you should take on the hunters protected by the United States Fish and Wildlife Service and state game management agencies. If we are really concerned about saving our wildlife, we will ban all hunting and trapping and protect our predators from arbitrary slaughter. -- S.W.B., Waldorf, Maryland
DEAR S.W.B.: I appreciate your concerns and efforts to help cats, but not your accusatory tone, which affirms the truism that a little knowledge often does more harm than good.
You are evidently not aware of or chose not to accept the fact that unadoptable cats are being "dumped" by some animal shelters using trap-neuter-release (TNR) as a cover. After conducting a lot of research, I have made it very clear that under strict conditions, TNR can be effective and ethical. For details, see "Releasing Cats to Live Outdoors" on my website, DrFoxVet.net.
My wife and I have trapped, had neutered, blood tested and fully vaccinated, wormed, rehabilitated and loved several feral cats, whom we either kept or found good homes for. Otherwise, they would have been put back in our neighborhood after neutering and vaccinating with no further care by the local Animal Humane Society of Golden Valley Minnesota. I've posted on my website a short photo-collage of one of these cat's progress under the title "Feral Cats Can Be Rehabilitated."
As for my daughter, Camilla, who founded and directs Project Coyote, she operates totally independent from me and has her own views and agenda. But there is no irony in her being a defender of wolves, since I was one of a handful of wolf scientists and no-hunting-or-trapping advocates who succeeded in the 1970s in securing protection for the wolf under the Endangered Species Act.
DEAR DR. FOX: I have been rescuing Dalmatians for more than 25 years, and I love the breed. I usually take the dogs no one else wants, and they always turn out to be wonderful, loving pets who only want someone to love them.
A few months ago in a column, you mentioned never giving dogs treats made in China because of some of the ingredients. When I buy dog treats, the country in which they are made isn't always listed. If I buy only the treats that specifically state they were made in the United States, it will significantly reduce the kinds of treats I get for my dog, including some of his favorites.
Do you have any suggestions? -- J.R., St. Peters, Missouri
DEAR J.R.: Good for you for rescuing these beautiful dogs who have been abandoned by people who lack understanding and empathy. Far too many people get dogs without first assessing if their lifestyles are compatible and without informing themselves as to the animals' needs and proper care.
Your question is very pertinent when it comes to the big gap between truth in labeling and obfuscation, which is especially true with many pet foods and treats. Ingredients may come from abroad -- from China in particular -- then go into a product manufactured in the U.S. The product labeled "distributed" by Company X is probably manufactured in China, Thailand or some other country where food quality and safety are not under the (still imperfect) U.S. standards of surveillance and regulation.
Some of the new freeze-dried treats with no preservatives or additives, such as Stella and Chewys, are made in the U.S. and in my preferred choice category. But the best solution is to start making your own treats, as per my recipe "Dr. Fox's Good-Dog Cookies," posted on my website.
(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.net.)