DEAR DR. FOX: How dare you bring religion into how we treat animals? Last paragraph from a recent column: “For atheists and agnostics, there can be no denying that other animals possess intelligence ...” You added the comma, making this sentence represent the calling out of atheists and agnostics as people who do NOT see animals as worthy. I am agnostic, and I believe all creatures deserve life and freedom. I believe animals possess intelligence. You corralled me into a group yet you know nothing about me.
That is how I read your article. Guaranteed, I am not the only one. If you did not mean it that way, then apologize to your readers. Whether we “agnostics and atheists” deny your god has nothing to do with how we perceive and treat our pets and family members. I have been agnostic for a lifetime and I spoil my pets like angels, and yet I see “God-fearing Christians” beat their pets.
I hope you print this, as you are showing your white privilege and your white ignorance. Religion ONLY belongs in a church. -- K.P., Naples, Florida
DEAR K.P.: I am responding to your letter, firstly because you imply that I am displaying “white privilege” and “white ignorance” in my newspaper column by bringing religion into how we treat animals. That is a curious criticism, but understandable, as the “virus” of racism infects and clouds our thinking. For any misunderstanding in my communications, I apologize.
The core teachings of all the world’s major religions, as I document in my book “The Boundless Circle: Caring for Creatures and Creation,” is obeying the Golden Rule: treating others, including fellow creatures, as we would have them treat us. That has nothing to do with the color of my skin, but with the light of compassion and maitri -- loving-kindness toward all beings, which Gautama Buddha proclaimed is the only true religion. I would think atheists and agnostics would embrace this, since Buddhism is atheistic. Secular humanists may be as limited by anthropocentrism as monotheists are in their belief in a male god figure who only created man in his own image.
By all accounts, spirituality needs to be rescued from religions that have, arguably, done more harm than good to man and beast alike for millennia.
Theists, atheists and agnostics alike can surely agree that all lives matter, and that it is time to recover our humanity for the sake of the environment and all life on this beautiful planet.
They say beauty is in the eye of the beholder, but when we let what is natural around us touch our spirits, we awaken to the Spirit of Life and feel and breathe the light of creation. Birdwatchers and nature photographers and artists know all about that. But when we awaken to the unnatural around us -- the electrified cities, polluting industries, cruel animal factory farms, impoverished communities and malnourished millions -- we may begin to feel and breathe the truth of why we are such a sickened and sickening species. And with the spirituality of religious teachings -- or the nonreligious bioethics of justice and respect for all life -- begins the great healing that is long overdue.
DEAR DR. FOX: Our dog has a lump on her neck after wearing a Seresto collar for quite a while. We are afraid it may be cancerous. Please advise. -- R.H., Chincoteague, Virginia
DEAR R.H.: I am sorry to hear about your dog’s swelling on the neck, which calls for an immediate veterinary examination. Many veterinary hospitals are open for business, but you may not be allowed into the facility during this pandemic. A staffer will come and take your dog from your vehicle for examination. Be sure to wear a mask, and bring your cellphone to communicate with the veterinarian while remaining in your vehicle.
My fear is that your dog has a form of cancer called lymphoma, but there is the off-chance that this is a nonmalignant lipoma -- a fatty tumor -- or chronic inflammation from a bite or thorn. Do let me know the veterinarian’s diagnosis and treatment.
I wish everyone, including veterinarians, would think twice about putting an insecticide-releasing collar around dogs’ and cats’ necks. We would never do it to our children. For details about the harmful consequences of this incredible stupidity, read my critical analysis “Companion Animal Risks of Flea and Tick Insecticides” on my website (drfoxonehealth.com). I also have a step-by-step approach to preventing fleas and ticks in companion animals posted there.
(Send all mail to firstname.lastname@example.org 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.
Visit Dr. Fox’s website at DrFoxOneHealth.com.)