DEAR DR. FOX: I was so glad to read your letter about “community cats.” I recently became aware of this craziness when I took yet another feral cat to our local animal control facility.
When the worker looked at the cat in my humane trap, she informed me that the cat had a notched ear. I asked what that meant, since I had no idea. She then sternly informed me that the cat is a community cat, and that I cannot touch him. I told her the cat was in my yard, and I do not want cats in my yard. She did not care. She repeated that I cannot touch or remove the cat, as per some ordinance that was passed three years ago. When I asked to see a copy of the ordinance, she did not comply, and I have taken cats there since the ordinance was passed and did not have this problem.
After taking down my name and information, she told me that the cat would be returned to the location he came from.
I was to the point of crying when I left that facility. Lots of native birds come to my yard, which has been certified as a wildlife habitat by the National Wildlife Federation. I have seen cats kill birds and squirrels. They are just killing machines, and I don’t understand why they are being protected. Even the native Florida panther doesn’t get this much protection. We don’t see dogs running around loose, so why are cats not being controlled? It’s all very strange.
I’m forwarding a letter my husband wrote to the commissioner who passed this idiotic ordinance. She never contacted us. She had a man from animal control contact my husband, but with no positive results. I wonder how many people don’t even know about this law. I really hope that Palm Beach County Commissioner Melissa McKinlay reads your letter. -- C.B., Palm Beach area, Florida
DEAR C.B.: This issue has been repeatedly raised in my column. It is an ethically complex issue; I see the people advocating for TNR (trap/neuter/release) as seriously misguided pro-lifers.
GENE EDITING HELPS DOGS WITH MUSCULAR DYSTROPHY
Dogs suffering from a form of muscular dystrophy seen in humans were deliberately bred to serve as models of this disease. Using the new technology of gene editing called CRISPR, some promising treatment results were reported.
The researchers first packed the instructions for the CRISPR gene-editing components into a virus with an affinity for muscle cells. Then they injected millions of copies of that virus into four 1-month-old dogs: two by direct injection into the leg, and two by IV. After eight weeks, CRISPR had restored dystrophin levels in the second group to more than 50 percent of normal in the legs, and more than 90 percent in the heart. This helped compensate for the gene mutation that caused a deficiency of dystrophin, which is seen in children suffering from Duchenne muscular dystrophy. (Science, Leonela Amoasii et al, Aug. 30)
KEEP PETS AWAY FROM SAGO PALM PLANTS
A dog in Destin, Florida that nearly died after consuming a piece of sago palm is unusual only in that she survived, says emergency veterinarian Stephen Davis. Davis says he sees sago palm poisoning cases every week, most of which are fatal. The plant is commonly used in subtropical landscaping. Cases of sago palm toxicity have risen 200 percent since 2015, according to the Animal Poison Control Center.
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