DEAR DR. FOX: I found an essay of yours, "Animal Suffering and the God Question," concerning what kind of god could create a world where there is so much suffering. Heavy writing, but brilliantly put. I feel sorrow for animals every day, but I guess without one (sorrow) you wouldn't have the other (joy). You completely hit the nail on the head.
I ordered your book "The Boundless Circle," and can't wait to get it. -- D.B., Manteca, California
DEAR D.B.: I would add this statement to my essay: In the realm of sentience, the reality of nature and the nature of reality spans the polarities of sublime beauty and joy and horrendous suffering and fear. Between these antipodes, we have our being and choice between compassion and loving-kindness, predation and self-sacrifice, cruelty and indifference. The choices are ours regardless of whatever god we may believe created this world. We have the freedom to choose between good and evil, and to protect the greater good of all sentient beings, great and small.
I think you will enjoy my book "The Boundless Circle: Caring for Creatures and Creation" and also the more recent "Animals and Nature First." In addition, I urge those seeking insight to read the writings of poet Robinson Jeffers.
DEAR DR. FOX: What is your opinion about urban tilapia fish farming? -- L.H., Cleveland, Ohio
DEAR L.H.: Several years ago, I went to one of the first aquaculture industry shows and spoke with some companies selling antibiotic feed additives and other drugs. Upon questioning, they admitted that such products were needed because fish production meant crowding-stress and increased susceptibility to disease.
Tilapia fish production can be ecological, with recycling of fish wastewater and fish-meal fertilizer from the remains of processed fish for cultivating crops, either to feed fish or humans. The method in which they are killed should be as humane as possible, as by electrocution. All feed should be organically certified, and no production-enhancing or disease-preventing drugs should given to the fish. If these parameters are met, the fish can then be certified organic.
Regarding the small-scale/hobby production of tilapia, and also of poultry for meat and eggs, and rabbits for meat: I would question these practices. My concerns are on the grounds of the potential for inhumane treatment and killing, poor husbandry standards, public health risks and consumer safety.
PROTECT HORSES AGAINST WEST NILE VIRUS
Mosquitoes spread West Nile virus when they feed on a mammal after feeding on an infected bird, says veterinarian Sarah Hamer, director of the Texas A&M Schubot Center for Avian Health. Most infected animals don't show clinical signs, but the virus can cause encephalitis and meningitis in companion animals and people. While dogs and cats have a low risk of catching or transmitting West Nile virus, horses have a high risk for both and should be vaccinated, Dr. Hamer says. (Full story: Texas A&M University, Aug. 19)
HOPE FOR DOGS WITH MAST CELL CANCER
Stelfonta is a drug that was approved last year in the U.S. to treat nonmalignant cutaneous and subcutaneous mast cell tumors in dogs. When injected into tumors, the drug activates a protein that disintegrates tumor cells. It may be a viable alternative to surgery in some cases.
POISONING OF MANY DOGS BY MANUFACTURED DOG FOOD
Hundreds of dogs that have eaten dry food from Midwestern Pet Foods have been sickened or died, according to the FDA, which issued a warning letter to the company about violations at its manufacturing facilities. The products may be contaminated with high levels of aflatoxin, a byproduct of mold that can grow on corn and other grains. (Full story: USA Today, Aug. 18)
Why does this happen so often in the U.S. and abroad? The simple answer is that many ingredients used by most pet food manufacturers are condemned for human consumption. This must change. It is an outrage that companion animals are used to profitably recycle contaminated waste and byproducts from the human food and beverage industry.
(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.
Visit Dr. Fox’s website at DrFoxOneHealth.com.)