DEAR READERS: Two different studies have found that pet cats and dogs that have close contact with a person who has COVID-19 can become infected. Cats appear to be more susceptible to the virus, though most pets have only mild clinical signs of illness. Researchers say anyone with COVID-19 should avoid close contact with pets, both to prevent transmitting the coronavirus and to keep pets from becoming a reservoir for it. (Full story: NBC News, 6/30)
These studies underscore the importance of not letting cats roam free because of the possibility of human-infected cats infecting other cats and wildlife, and then establishing a reservoir of infection in the community.
It is notable that there is a bipartisan proposal in the U.S. House -- introduced by Reps. Rosa DeLauro, D-Conn., and Nancy Mace, R-S.C. -- to prohibit the import, export, transport, sale and purchase of mink in the United States. Mink are especially susceptible to this virus, and there are fears that new mutant strains may evolve, against which our current vaccines may not provide effective protection. Denmark reported last year that 12 people had been infected by a coronavirus variant that had distinct genetic changes also seen in farmed mink.
DEAR DR. FOX: Your recent article quoting George Brock Chisholm is one more example of your Marxist dogma. Animals fare better with individual freedoms. -- P.H., Trenton, New Jersey
DEAR P.H.: I have been accused of being a communist; a left-wing extremist; and an anti-progressive, eco-terrorist Luddite in my advocacy for environmental protection and the rights of all sentient beings, plant and animal. Putting such concerns into politics means confronting the economy-driven global industrial technocracy of linked nation states, both capitalist and socialist. They are not doing enough to address the climate and extinction crises, and are still squandering time and money on weapons of mass destruction and space exploration. My book "Animals and Nature First" is my detailed response to this existential and ethical challenge.
The human species has not yet learned to live in democratic accord with natural law, giving equal and fair consideration to all living beings. We are displacing wildlife and reducing self-regulating natural biodiversity by raising billions of livestock and poultry for our consumption, and wasting good land to feed these animals. Such an economy and culture is neither sustainable nor ecologically just, and amounts to ecocide.
I firmly believe that the human species can evolve once the Golden Rule, endorsed by all the world's major religions, is embraced, and the limitations of human-centeredness are transcended by a reverential respect for all life.
DEAR DR. FOX: I'm looking for some advice for our 2-year-old Jindo mix. He was rescued from a meat farm in Korea and arrived in the U.S. about eight months ago. He has a timid demeanor, but is very close with us and is generally a happy guy!
The problem is bedtime. He willingly jumps into bed, but after falling into a deep sleep, he will suddenly wake with panic in his eyes. It's often accompanied by him licking his lips, and then he will twist away and bound off the bed in a really crazy manner. His sleep only lasts around 10 or 15 minutes. This happens almost every night.
We are trying to understand this behavior and see what we can do to help him. Luckily, the organization that rescues these dogs is very reputable, and he was thoroughly vaccinated and monitored for months before arriving in the U.S. He is physically healthy, but of course carries a lot of trauma with him. -- S.P., Los Angeles
DEAR S.P.: Having rescued dogs like yours and seeing their interrupted sleep patterns, it is my opinion that they are suffering from PTSD. Give your dog 3 to 6 milligrams of melatonin about a half-hour before bedtime, and put 3 to 4 drops of lavender oil under the pillow on the bed where he sleeps.
I do worry about foreign diseases arriving with dogs from far-off places; not all organizations have adequate procedures for quarantining, monitoring and vaccinating the animals prior to importing them. Also, without concerted spay/neuter and anti-rabies vaccination programs worldwide, the "dog problem" of overpopulation will continue unabated.
Related: Starting July 14, the CDC will temporarily suspend dog importation from countries considered at high risk for dog rabies. For details, visit cdc.gov and search for "High-Risk Countries for Dog Rabies."
(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.
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