DEAR READERS: A new book addresses the travesty of flat-faced (so-called brachycephalic) companion animals from a clinical perspective.
Entitled "Health and Welfare of Brachycephalic (Flat-faced) Companion Animals: A Complete Guide for Veterinary and Animal Professionals" and edited by doctors Rowena Packer and Dan O'Neill, it contains chapters written by 29 internationally recognized experts, all addressing the serious health problems associated with selectively breeding dogs, cats, rabbits and now even horses to have flat faces. Their appearance is appealing to many people, but appalling to the informed.
Per the publisher's promotional statement: "This book will equip veterinary professionals, animal welfare scientists, breeders and owners with the fuller story about brachycephalic health and welfare. The first half of the book provides the context of how and why we are in this crisis, offering in-depth historical, social, ethical, communication, nursing, welfare, epidemiological, genetics and international perspectives. The second half shifts toward the clinical arena, with chapters that cover the background, diagnosis, treatment and prevention of the many unique healthcare needs of brachycephalic animals. Cutting-edge knowledge is shared on a range of disciplines including respiratory disease, ophthalmology, dermatology, dentistry, neurology, obesity, reproduction and anesthesia."
Years ago, I was on "The Oprah Winfrey Show" to talk about dogs. One of her guests, a dog breeder, brought her 6-month-old bulldog, who could barely get up the low steps to reach us on the stage. I politely asked how she could deliberately breed an animal who had such difficulty breathing and walking. While Oprah visibly stiffened at my question, which took away from the cuteness of the episode (which included a parade of various breeds wearing designer dog clothes), the breeder's answer was immediate: "I love them."
Now, flat-faced dogs are the rage, especially French bulldogs and pugs. One-fifth of all dogs in the U.K. are brachycephalic. It is my hope that this new book will help rectify this tragic deforming of companion animals.
DEAR DR. FOX: I read your column faithfully, and I think we owe all animals a great deal for all the harm and injuries we have inflicted upon them. They are sentient beings with feelings, just like we are. They mourn, feel joy, fear, etc. We are all created by God, whoever we conceive him or her to be. We could learn a lot from animals if only we'd listen.
I help out at a local no-kill animal shelter, and have had my eyes opened more than I'd like. Some of the things people do to these poor, helpless animals make me sick. I'd like to do to the perpetrators what they do to these animals. Just this past week, we took in some kittens that someone threw out of their moving car. Luckily someone else saw it happen, caught the kittens and brought them to us. They are now in foster care and are doing well.
Please, Dr. Fox, keep preaching and keep pounding away at the way animals are treated. Maybe someday people will realize that the animals we share this planet with are not there just for our use or abuse, but for us to take care of. -- D.L.B., Erie, Pennsylvania
DEAR D.L.B.: Good for you for what you are doing to help the animals. Many involved in animal care and rescue come to feel as you do. Our rampant inhumanity and outright cruelty seem to have no bounds. What is wrong with our educational system and culture are all connected; the more disconnected we become from each other and other sentient beings (the empathy connection), the worse life gets for us and for all creatures, great and small.
NEW LAW SHOWS EMPATHY FOR DOGS IN TEXAS
A Texas law effective Jan. 18, 2022, makes it a Class C misdemeanor to restrain a dog with a chain, a weighted or short restraint, or a restraint attached to an improperly fitted collar or harness. Animals left outdoors must have access to potable water, shelter and shade. The new law is viewed as a "win" local animal advocates. (Full story: DailyTrib, Marble Falls, Texas, 11/9)
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