DEAR DR. FOX: There is a disturbing trend among many so-called "sanctuaries" and "rescues," where they are denying suffering animals veterinary care, including a dignified and painless death. Instead, they leave animals to languish and die slowly and miserably.
Some of these places are opposed to euthanasia and follow a "life at any cost" mentality. Others are scammers who post photos of sick and injured animals in order to pull at heartstrings and solicit donations. Still others let animals suffer because of laziness or callous indifference.
At Darlynn's Darlins Rescue Ranch in Florida, a People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) investigation revealed an emaciated pig named Spunky who was covered in lesions and couldn't use his back legs, who languished for months. Another emaciated pig, Buddy, spent his miserable final weeks lying on his side, struggling to get up.
At Angel's Gate Hospice and Rehabilitation Center for Animals in New York, PETA found that elderly, sick and disabled animals were kept in filthy, crowded conditions without veterinary care. Many had been sent there by Animal Care Centers of New York City in an attempt to reduce its euthanasia rate, including an elderly Chihuahua named Malcolm. After weeks of suffering from an apparent untreated neurological disease that left him unable to stand, walk or eat, Malcolm died alone in a cage.
Furrever Grateful Rescue in California subjected a cat whose face was being eaten away by cancer to multiple unnecessary surgeries. After the surgeries failed, the rescue took the cat to another veterinarian, who recommended euthanasia. The group refused and took the cat to a warehouse. They reportedly used him as a fundraising tool by posting photos of his decline online. Authorities finally intervened, the veterinarian's license was revoked, and the cat was put out of his misery.
These cases are a reminder never to blindly give animals or money to just anyone who calls themselves a "rescue." Thoroughly investigate -- in person -- any group you're thinking of supporting. Open-admission shelters -- the kind that refuse to hand over sick and dying animals when the merciful thing to do is to end their suffering -- deserve our support and thanks. -- T.L.C., People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), Norfolk, Virginia
DEAR T.L.C.: Thank you for this important and disturbing warning and for doing the investigations to uncover such fraudulent and cruel exploitation of animals. There are many more posted on your website, which I find very alarming. For more details, readers can go to peta.org/issues/companion-animal-issues/animal-shelters/kill-label-slowly-killing-animals/.
With the holiday season upon us, which is losing its spiritual and religious significance as a season of giving to ever-more consumption, I appeal to everyone to support their local animal shelters, ask what supplies they need and go visit. If there is no open-door policy and they have tax-exempt charity status (about which you should also ask and get their tax exemption ID number), you should contact your state's attorney general's office and the Better Business Bureau. The doors should be open.
Pledge to volunteer in 2017, or adopt a cat or dog -- ideally after the holidays are over, when your home may be quieter and safer for the new addition.
DOES YOUR DOG HAVE FRAGRANT SCENT SPOTS?
My wife, Deanna, and I recently adopted a mutt, or mixed-breed, female dog brought up by the humane society in Minneapolis from Alabama. We chose her in part because she looks like some of the pariah or indigenous native dogs my wife rescued in India when she ran an animal shelter (for details, see our new book, "India's Animals: Helping the Sacred and the Suffering" on Amazon.com).
To our surprise, this dog from Alabama has a fragrant, flowery-scented area on each cheek where the fur makes a small ridge down her neck. It is a very similar scent to one we detected in some of the Indian dogs; when the dogs interact socially with each other, they usually sniff this region. Years ago, a breeder of Scottish terriers had me sniff the top of some of his dogs' heads, and I noted a similar fragrance.
I would like to hear from readers whose dogs have similar scented areas on their bodies (excluding paws that smell like peppery popcorn) and let me know exactly where and what the scent smells like. If we had dogs' noses, we might have a better vocabulary to describe various scents!
(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.)