DEAR DR. FOX: Our local TV station runs a commercial showing an empty NHL arena that states there are 20,000 empty seats. This is the same number of dogs euthanized in the area in the last year. My question is: Where do all these dogs come from?
They can't be all from pets who weren't spayed or neutered. Is this a result of puppy mills and breeders who can't sell their puppies? I think local TV and newspapers should show the faces of the dogs they put down. I know it would be horrible, but this needs to stop. -- L.J., St. Louis
DEAR L.J.: I appreciate your concern and applaud the local TV station for not too graphically giving the public a feel for how many puppies and adult dogs are killed every year in shelters. The number of kittens and cats would be many times more.
All of this is not entirely the fault of commercial puppy and kitten mill producers; rather, it's the lack of real understanding and concern of those cat and dog owners who allow their animals to roam free and to breed. Some even say that it is "educational" for their children to see the "miracle of birth," and thus justify not having their dogs and cats fixed.
Many animals are abandoned by people who find them too much trouble or difficult to care for, or whose kids have lost interest in them. Some are abandoned rather than surrendered to the shelter because the owners fear the animals will be euthanized. Many animals in shelters had easy-to-correct behavioral problems, others were just too expensive to care for in a failing economy -- especially popular and expensive purebreds with built-in health problems. Other dogs and cats filling those stadium seats are from owners who can no longer keep them because of housing restrictions.
"Full house" at the community animal shelter is a sad reflection of the times. Several years ago, one friend, the late Tom Hughes, who worked in municipal animal rescue and sheltering in Canada, was so aghast at the intake of surrendered, abandoned and stray animals that were being euthanized that he took a week's kill and piled the bodies on the steps of the government offices and called in the media. Certainly more media coverage is needed today on many animal issues, and local stations can also help promote shelter adoptions and free, responsible animal care instruction.
HUMAN PAIN-RELIEVING DRUGS CAN PUT PETS AT RISK
-- Ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin) is the most common human medication ingested by pets. Many brands have a sweet outer coating that makes it appealing to pets (think M&Ms -- but potentially deadly ones). Ibuprofen can cause stomach ulcers and kidney failure.
-- Tramadol (Ultram) is a pain reliever. Your veterinarian may prescribe it for your pet, but only at a dose that's appropriate -- never give your own medication to your pet without first consulting your veterinarian! Too much tramadol can cause sedation or agitation, wobbliness, disorientation, vomiting, tremors and possibly seizures.
-- Acetaminophen (Tylenol) is a very common painkiller found in most households. Cats are extremely sensitive to acetaminophen, but dogs can be affected, too. Acetaminophen can cause liver damage. It can also cause damage to your pet's red blood cells, making the cells unable to carry oxygen; like your body, your pet's body needs oxygen to survive.
-- Naproxen (Aleve, Naprosyn) is an over-the-counter pain reliever. Dogs and cats are very sensitive to naproxen, and even small amounts can cause stomach ulcers and kidney failure.
(Send all mail to email@example.com 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.)