DEAR READERS: The latest government-sanctioned hunt in Yellowstone National Park has killed 1,150 bison in a controversial attempt to prevent the spread of brucellosis in cattle. (Full story: New York Times, April 4)
Reading this news, I was speechless and mortified. Bison cause less trampling and erosion damage to the plains than cattle; their diet is higher in grasses and thus less damaging to the long-term chances of the plain's environment, and bison poop functions as a natural fertilizer to their habitats. Also, they may emit less methane, a gas that contributes to climate change, than grass-fed cattle.
The mass slaughter of bison is a mindless contribution to climate change because it disrupts the carbon sink established by the ecological links among plants/vegetation, bison and their predators, like wolves and bears. This is a self-evident crime against nature and humanity.
The environmental harm, loss of biodiversity and near-annihilation of Indigenous peoples wrought by America's cattle ranchers over the centuries is a call for accountability and a boycott of all beef products, including the many tons of imported beef from the Amazon forest-decimating Brazilian cattle industry.
DOG BITES AND THEIR PREVENTION
The week of April 10 was National Dog Bite Prevention Week, sponsored by the American Veterinary Medical Association to protect the bond between dogs and people, emphasize veterinarians' role in canine behavior and educate people about preventing dog bites.
While most of the 88 million pet dogs in the U.S. coexist peacefully with their people, over 4.5 million Americans are bitten by a dog each year, according to the AVMA. "While dog bites are a serious public health issue, the good news is that most dog bites are preventable," said AVMA President Dr. Lori Teller in an April news release. "By taking steps to train and properly socialize our dogs, and educate ourselves and loved ones on dog bite prevention, we can help reduce bites and keep dogs in loving homes, where they belong."
First step: Protect the dog from wild children who do not know how to be gentle and have not learned to interpret dogs' body language. According to the National Canine Research Council, there were 46 verified fatalities related to dog bites in the U.S. in 2020. But injuries, including fractures and concussions, are not recorded. These are often caused by non-aggressive dogs jumping up while playing and running into people, especially children.
It is essential that parents constantly supervise infants when with the family dog, no matter how gentle and trustworthy, and never leave them alone together. I recall one case where an autopsy was performed on a Saint Bernard who had bitten the face of a toddler. A broken pencil was found deeply embedded in one of this poor dog's ears.
The AVMA has gathered several resources, including tools that veterinarians can share with their clients, to help educate the public on reducing dog bites. To learn more, visit avma.org/events/national-dog-bite-prevention-week.
(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.)