DEAR READERS: Operation Thunderball, a joint action by Interpol and the World Customs Organization, is cracking down on the global illegal wildlife and plant trade.
In the first strike this year, covering 109 countries, there were 2,000 seizures and nearly 600 suspects identifed. Seizures included a rare lion cub from India, over 400 protected species from Uruguay, and 1,850 birds from Italy. Nigerian officials intercepted a half-ton of pangolin parts going to China for medical concoctions; 4,000 tortoises in one container were found in Russia.
Collectors and the exotic pet trade fuel this ecologically devastating illegal market, with countless animals dying soon after capture and in transit. This is a sad reminder of our inhumanity toward fellow creatures, and to ourselves. In addition, the serious potential public health risks from zoonotic diseases, transmissible from wild animals to humans, call for concerted action by all governments and international agencies. It is imperative for all nations to protect wildlife and wild plants, all of which are essential components of biodiversity and environmental health.
DEAR DR. FOX: Our son and daughter-in-law have a beautiful female golden retriever who is 4 years old. They also have a 3-year-old son and three cats.
My daughter-in-law has read about canine depression and is convinced the dog is depressed because she is sometimes indifferent about eating, and just seems to hang around a lot “looking sad.”
At our home, which the dog visits fairly often, she seems to prefer staying out in our breezeway rather than in the house. We initially kept her out there whenever she came over because we weren’t sure how our cat would respond. We have since discovered they are absolutely fine together, no problems whatsoever, but she keeps attempting to go out there.
Our son is a runner and used to bring the dog on runs with him, but he has stopped because he says her energy just seems to flag after a while. He says it might be because she gets too animated and excited at the beginning of the run. He has brought her to work several times, and she’s well-behaved. She has even sat calmly through a recent public outdoor fireworks display.
They walk her (or have her walked) at least twice a day, and I have walked her as well. After a few seconds of initial animation, such as jumping up, we have her sit quietly for a moment, then put her leash on and she is well-behaved after that. There do not appear to be any health problems.
On the subject of depression: Our son has critical depression and went through a difficult time a year ago, but his condition is well-managed at present.
Can you advise us on further assessment and/or response to the dog’s mood and well-being? -- M.C., Trumbull, Connecticut
DEAR M.C.: Does this dog get out to play with other dogs and have regular opportunities to explore around the neighborhood?
Many in-home dogs seem to be taken for granted and live dispirited, unstimulating lives, spending much of the day sleeping. They are virtually ignored because they are non-demanding of attention, having long given up seeking regular playtime, grooming and outdoor activities.
This may not be true in the case of your son and daughter-in-law’s dog; indeed, some dogs, especially golden retrievers, are super-mellow and actually need to be encouraged to be more active. Obesity is one issue on the horizon for their dog, and associated arthritis and other health issues.
I would advise a through veterinary checkup, testing for thyroid function and any other underlying issues such as hip dysplasia, which may give the impression that the dog is depressed.
DEAR DR. FOX: A couple of months ago, my brother and my sister-in-law traveled to Pismo Beach with their three dogs.
That evening, the smaller dog got something caught in its throat, and they could not get it out. They took the dog to a pet hospital, where they gave him a shot and took an X-ray, then put a scope down his throat. They tried to get the object out of his throat for two hours.
This didn’t sound right to me, but they said they couldn’t get it out, so they would have to call another vet to massage the object down to his stomach and then do surgery. But they needed some money down before they would call the vet; the bill was already at $1,100, and if the other vet came in, it would be $10,000.
Well, my brother and his wife didn’t have $10,000, so their only option was to put the dog down. So sad. And by the time it was all done, it cost them $2,500.
Is this what it’s coming to, that we can’t even afford to have our animals? Isn’t this way out of line? -- D.N., West Palm Beach, Florida
DEAR D.N.: I do not know the details of this dog’s obstruction issue, which sounds serious and complicated, so I cannot give you my opinion.
All I can say is that for some dogs and their owners, veterinary accident insurance may be wise. It is a significant stress factor for veterinarians to have to euthanize animals whom their owners cannot afford to have healed.
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(Send all mail to email@example.com or to Dr. Michael Fox in care of Andrews McMeel Syndication, 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.
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