DEAR READERS: Most people do not know about pregnant horses being cruelly confined (or repeatedly rounded up) for the purpose of having their pregnancies aborted and their blood drained.
This horrific practice is done routinely for the extraction of hormone-rich pregnant mare serum gonadotropin (PMSG) from their blood. This hormone is produced by collecting a substantial volume of blood from mares early in their pregnancies -- once or twice a week for about 12 weeks. The mares' foals are then aborted, and the mares rebred for another collection cycle.
The Animal Welfare Foundation says, "More than 10,000 mares are exploited in Uruguay and Argentina for PMSG production." Similar "horse blood farms" also operate in Germany, Canada, the U.S. and Iceland, with an estimated 5,000 animals exploited.
PMSG is a hormone that is widely used to enhance reproductive performance and management of dairy and beef cattle, sheep, goats and pigs kept under intensive housing systems. Typically, PMSG is given to young sows to induce early puberty, which in turn triggers a kind of superovulation that results in larger litters. Just after they give birth, sows are given PMSG to immediately induce estrus -- the period of time when a female animal is in heat -- so the cycle can start all over again. This is according to a detailed report by Kena Shah, entitled "The Blood of Pregnant Mares Literally Fuels Factory Farming" (see sentientmedia.org).
Shah notes, "Though it's difficult to track down exact numbers, the drug is omnipresent in industrial pork production in the U.S. and Canada. In Germany, government records indicate that approximately 2.1 million doses of this hormone are administered each year. According to the Association for Animal Welfare in Iceland, blood farmers in the country make a combined $3.4 million USD in revenue."
The inherent cruelty to horses, many collapsing and dying from anemia and repeated abortions, just to boost the productivity of factory-farmed animals for human consumption is an outright international atrocity -- one that is profit-driven in every quarter. It will not end until the veterinary profession, internationally, supports animal protection organizations dedicated to the abolition of such practices.
For its part, the World Veterinary Association has put out a statement saying that it "supports the development and use of alternatives, such as bioequivalent synthetic biologics and therapeutics, to replace the need for using horse blood, serum and urine to derive biologics and therapeutics that treat or prevent various conditions in humans and other animals" (worldvet.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/04/WVA-Position-Statement-on-the-Use-of-Horses-for-Production-of-Biologics-and-Therapeutics.pdf).
Additionally, more consumers must shop with informed compassion, adopting plant-based diets to enjoy the financial and health benefits of vegan meals that cause less harm to animals and the environment. For more details on this issue, go to feeva.fve.org/cms/wp-content/uploads/7.-FEEVA-GA-PMSG-presentation.pdf.
DEAR DR. FOX: Our dog has dry eyes. Our local pet ophthalmologist prescribed tacrolimus drops three times a day in both eyes, along with two other drops in the left eye only (also three times daily).
Only the tacrolimus seems to bother him, as he immediately rubs the eyes with paws and usually closes the affected eye. After two weeks of this, we don't think we see progress, and we are clearly causing the dog discomfort.
The vet says this regimen is needed forever. We have our doubts. You? -- R.H., Red Bank, New Jersey
DEAR R.H.: Tacrolimus is an anti-inflammatory and immunosuppressive drug, often prescribed in veterinary medicine to treat dry eye. The ophthalmic drops work to stimulate the tear glands and prevent further destruction of tissue. It may take several days to see benefits, but if it causes your dog extreme discomfort for more than a minute or so, and restraining the dog from pawing and rubbing the eye is not feasible, then discuss an alternative ophthalmic preparation.
Dry eye is common in some breeds, especially those with bulging eyes like Pekingese and French bulldogs, which can lead to corneal ulcers and loss of vision. Sometimes the eyes even pop out of these deformed-by-humans dogs -- a very sad situation, which sound breeding could have avoided.
CALF AND SOW LIBERATION IN NEW JERSEY
I applaud the passage of legislation this July that bans intensive confinement of mother pigs and calves raised for veal in New Jersey with Gov. Phil Murphy signing A1970/S1298 into law. The bill, sponsored by state senators Vin Gopal and Nick Scutari and Assemblymembers Raj Mukherji, Daniel Benson and Carol Murphy, prevents the use of gestation crates for sows and veal crates for calves, and will impose penalties for violators.
I was one of the first to document the plight of veal calves in the early 1980s, in my visits to veal producers in New Jersey and other states to determine how sows and their piglets were being raised and handled. My advocacy drew media and public attention to such widespread mistreatment.
(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.)