DEAR DR. FOX: I recently read a letter sent to you by a reader who was extremely upset over learning of the treatment of dogs and cats in Asian countries. She didn’t mention the animal cruelty that also goes on in predominantly Muslim countries, but I’m very aware of that, as well.
The practice in Asian countries of eating dogs and cats is bad enough, in my opinion, but the way the animals are tortured prior to being eaten is barbaric to the extremes. No need to go into details; I implore people to research this for themselves, but warn that you’ll never be able to forget it. I also find the argument that always follows -- that people in the West eat animals, too -- to be ridiculous, in the sense that there’s no comparison to this practice I’m writing about. But for argument’s sake, I also find the way animals are treated in the West appalling, and would like to ask all the “smart” people why a better, humane method hasn’t been found yet in our own part of the world.
I’m not a vegan; I do eat meat. But over the years, it’s become less appealing to me due to my love of animals. I wish I could completely give meat up, and maybe one day I’ll be able to.
In the meantime, I encourage all your readers to investigate and see for themselves what goes on in other parts of the world in this modern day and age. -- M.W., Cumberland, Maryland
DEAR M.W.: Muslims do not eat dogs. And from what I have witnessed, I would not single out Muslim practices of slaughtering food animals as any worse than ritual Jewish slaughter -- or what I have seen in large industrial slaughtering facilities here in the U.S. In the latter, one must also have empathy for those working under such stressful conditions of animal terror.
If I may quote my 2013 article “Islam and Animals: A Veterinary Bioethical Perspective” (available in full at drfoxvet.net):
“The practice of Islam, as well as of the two other monotheistic traditions (Judaism and Christianity), has become severely corrupted over the centuries. ... If we take, for example, Jesus’ actual teachings, then what G.K. Chesterton once said about Christianity may hold a grain of truth for most other religious traditions: (paraphrasing) ‘There is nothing wrong with Christianity except that no one has ever tried it.’
“I have witnessed ritual slaughter in Canada, the U.S., Tanzania and India, often being executed with neither skill nor reverence, the absence or presence of which makes little or no fundamental difference to the helplessness and terror of the animal. Either way, the Golden Rule is broken. ...
“An indirect affirmation of the benefit of extending the Golden Rule to include other sentient beings is captured in the Qur’anic statement, ‘Whoever is kind to the creatures of God is kind to himself.’ The Holy Prophet Muhammad also said, ‘A good deed done to a beast is as good as doing good to a human being; while an act of cruelty to a beast is as bad as an act of cruelty to a human being.’”
Compassion in World Farming (in the U.K.) and the Humane Farming Association (here in the U.S.) are two of several organizations pressing for better treatment of farmed animals, especially in how they are raised, transported and slaughtered.
M.W. REPLIES: I’m in full agreement that ALL animal cruelty needs to be ended, and it amazes me in this day and age that there are still people who either practice this barbarism or turn a blind eye to it. I have to admit I’m not familiar with Jewish practices, so I’ll get informed. My reference to Muslim countries was in regard to the mass slaughter/torture of dogs -- I’ve had family members in Iraq and other Middle Eastern countries who’ve witnessed this firsthand. Regardless, I hope many voices will help to end animal cruelty in all areas of the world, including here.
DEAR M.W.: In many faiths, there are religious traditions concerning sanitation and animals. These are well-founded, since dog bites and saliva can transmit rabies, while pig meat can transmit trichinosis and other parasites. But they can manifest as irrational prejudice, such as the shunning and gross neglect of dogs, which rabies vaccinations efforts may or may not quell.
Another religious tradition (as documented in my book “India’s Animals: Helping the Sacred and the Suffering”) is Hindus and Jains applying vegetarianism to dogs, cats, captive lions and other zoo and temple carnivores, including eagles and other raptors. In China, there is no specific religious association, and animal cruelty is widespread, from bear bile farms to skinning stunned cats alive.
STEM CELL THERAPIES BEING TESTED IN FELINE DISEASES
Therapies based on stem cells derived from bone marrow and adipose tissue are yielding promising results in feline chronic gingivostomatitis, enteropathies and asthma, according to a review in the Journal of Feline Medicine and Surgery. However, stem cell therapies have not worked as well in feline chronic kidney disease, the researchers reported. (ScienceDaily, March 13)
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