DEAR DR. FOX: I have been a forever reader of your newspaper column and all of your books, but my question is of a different nature.
We all heard the hoopla surrounding the Olympic Games in South Korea, but we never heard of anything in the media about how dogs and cats there are tortured -- by being beaten, hanged, electrocuted and boiled alive before being skinned while semi-conscious. I was made aware of this practice on Koreandogs.org, as well as on Youtube and on change.org.
I guess my question is: Why aren’t the Olympians speaking out about the abuse so that the whole world knows about it and protests this barbaric suffering? I haven’t been able to sleep thinking about this horror. These people think that inflicting pain and suffering on the animals brings out the adrenaline and gives the meat more flavor. There is no scientific proof of this, yet it continues unabated.
These Olympians are in a unique position to blow the whistle on the dog meat trade and do some educating for those who are unaware of this horror show. Swedish skier Charlotte Kalla has spoken out, and she has become a hero of sorts to the rescue world. She was totally unaware of the dog meat trade before coming to South Korea.
How can we get more Olympians to speak out to try and save these poor souls and make the suffering stop? -- M.S., West Palm Beach, Florida
DEAR M.S.: There is no exaggeration about the documented fact that in some Asiatic countries, dogs are traditionally strung up and beaten alive before their throats are cut and they bleed out. This is done to tenderize the meat. Also, cats are skinned alive and thrown into boiling pots. All of this is many degrees worse than the way livestock are handled in the West, where bruising and stress during long-distance transport to slaughter lead to “slimy” pork and “dark cutter” beef.
It is risky to criticize the inhumanity of other cultures without acknowledging those of one’s own. But in this particular instance, with this extreme cruelty often witnessed by children -- who become desensitized and consider such animal abuse as normative -- more vocal outrage by high-profile people such as Olympians would be appropriate. This cross-cultural gathering, after all, should not only feature fair competition (no performance-enhancing drugs!) but also the civilizing ethos of the values and virtues that respect and protect the rights of humans and non-humans alike.
I would give a gold medal to Switzerland, whose government leads the world in considering the welfare of lobsters -- ruling that they cannot be transported live on ice or in icy water, and must be electrically stunned before being put into boiling water for cooking.
DEAR DR. FOX: I’m writing because I’ve noticed a phenomenon with one of my cats that I never thought of before: cats reacting to human pheromones.
There’s a legend about human pheromones that goes something like this: If you want a potential girlfriend to be attracted to you, get one of her father’s T-shirts to wear, and the pheromones on it will do the trick.
Well, I have a young female cat who goes a little bit crazy for catnip -- but when I come home wearing a bandanna, having worked up something of a sweat, this cat goes bonkers over that bandanna! I’m sure the dried perspiration has something to do with it, but I also think she’s in love with my pheromones.
Am I assuming too much? I never gave a lot of credence to pheromones, but this little cat has me believing they can have a strong impact -- she seems to be in seventh heaven. -- T.U., Minneapolis, Minnesota
DEAR T.U.: Your observations are intriguing, and cats are indeed profoundly affected emotionally and behaviorally by various scents. The classic example is one cat coming home from the veterinary hospital and being attacked as though he/she was an invading stranger by formerly friendly fellow resident cats.
When cats must be boarded, I advise people to include the cat’s bed/blanket and also a T-shirt that the owner has worn for a few days prior. I have also advised people who will be on vacation for any length of time, or in prison, to send a well-worn T-shirt or two to help affirm the bond and possibly alleviate separation anxiety (especially for their canine companions).
I would like to hear from other readers about their experiences similar to yours, concerning how their animals react to various body odors/pheromones. The most amusing one is the cat urinating on the clothes or shoes of a visitor or boyfriend staying for the night.
SEOUL, SOUTH KOREA (Feb. 20) -- Dozens of dogs destined to be eaten have been saved from the butcher’s knife by In Defense of Animals and Jindo Love. 47 puppies and dogs were among the survivors rescued from horrific conditions in slaughterhouses and backyard dog-meat farms across South Korea. The American-Korean partnership aims to save 200 dogs this year from the dog-meat trade in South Korea, and is calling for an outright ban on dog meat.
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