Thomas Dock, CVJ, Vet. Technician  
Male, 53
Indianapolis, IN

Interests: animals, Reading (sci-fi and fantasy)
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Sad cases of Animal Cruelty

Dec 18, 2009 - 19 comments

You know, nothing irritates me more than individuals who find amusement and fun in torturing animals.   As I have been preparing news alerts this week, I have found multiple cases of some very sick and some very stupid individuals who evidently think nothing of causing pain to others.   NOTE:  There are some graphic descriptions in this post!

Phoenix AZ: Cat Doused with Gasoline and Set on Fire: Evidently, this trusting cat approached an unknown person or persons who then tossed gasoline on the animal and lit it on fire! The cat is now in the care of the Arizona Humane Society and is on the road to recovery.  She is reported to be very timid and scared, but should do well with time.

Montana: Three Men Charged with Animal Cruelty: In a similar gas, 3 young "boys" (even though they are 18/19...I won't dignify calling them "men") choked a pet cat and tossed it onto a bonfire. Furthermore, these three boys evidently had the gall to brag about the incident after they saw that the cat made the local news. This cat is also expected to recover.  What is amazing to me about this case is that the cat survived overnight and was found by people walking a trail the next day.

Florida: Dog Survives Being Dragged Behind Truck for 2 Miles: This may have been an accident, but it shows the stupidity of letting your dog ride in the back of your pickup truck AND shows that this person was in such a rush to take the dog to the shelter that he couldn't take time to clean out the cab of his truck and allow the dog to ride in there. She should also recover.  When the police stopped this guy, his truck cab was so full of crap, it was impossible for the dog to ride in there with him.   The pup (who is about 18 months old) was covered with "road rash" and the toes of her rear feet were worn down to the bone.  She will end up losing at least 3 of her rear toes because of this accident.

What's even more amazing to me is that I will bet all three of these animals will end up being adoring and loving pets to the right family.  The trust and love our pets have for us often knows no bounds and it is just so depressing to think that other people can't see that.

You know, we have talked a lot about meeting our pets at the Rainbow Bridge after we pass on and I recently had a discussion on Facebook about a columnist who didn't believe that pets go to heaven.   I can't help but hope and pray that there is a VERY SPECIAL place in the afterworld for people who abuse and torture animals like this.   AND, I hope that place is very, very HOT!!  (Yes... I know we are supposed to forgive others for their sins, but it's really hard to do in cases like these....)


Nov 23, 2009 - 4 comments

thanksgiving dangers pets

First, let me say that I am thankful for each and everyone one of you who reads these journals I sporadically post and I am very thankful to MedHelp for giving us the platform to help provide education and help to pet owners in need.

It may sound like I continually harp on the "dangers" of holidays to our pets, but the sad fact of the matter is that veterinarians are often presented with numerous emergency cases and sick pets right after the holidays.  No one WANTS to spend their holiday in an emergency room (people or pet)...so, I feel it is very important to point out the potential dangers to our pets during the upcoming Thanksgiving feast.

Most of the emergency visits and sick pets presented to veterinarians during the holidays are due to the pet eating something that he or she shouldn't have eaten.  Many foods can simply upset our pets' stomachs, but others are toxic and some can cause life-threatening obstructions.  And, we know from surveys that up to 60% of us feel that it is important to "share" holiday meals with our pets.

The vast majority of us will serve some sort of turkey for the upcoming Thanksgiving day get together.  While a little bit of white meat is an acceptable treat, please avoid giving the bones or turkey skin to your pet.   Cooked poulty bones splinter very easily and can cause obstructions or perforations in the gut.  The fatty skin can cause a pet to develop pancreatitis, a very painful inflammation of the pancreas.

As we have mentioned many times in the past, don't give grapes or raisins to your dogs, avoid feeding foods that have been excessively salted or that contain onion or garlic powder, and any sweets that contain Xylitol must be kept away from our dogs.  Chocolate, of course, should be avoided.

And, this should go without saying, but our pets should never have ALCOHOL!!

Even if you are strong and avoid the temptation to give in to those begging eyes, remember that there are other places that our sneaky pets might find holiday goodies.   First, let everyone in the house know about your rules when it comes to feeding your pet.  Other holiday guests might not have your willpower.

Next, be sure that the trash and any leftovers are secured behind closed doors.  Even the items you used for preparing the meal can be dangerous.  Cats have been known to swallow the strings from turkeys and dogs, as we all know, will gobble up anything that smells like meat...dangerous or not!!

If your pets are persistent or your guests are too soft-hearted, you may need to put your four legged family members in a separate room until the meal and cleanup are complete.

Away from the table, liquid potpourri and candles can pose dangers as well.  Cats seem to enjoy some of the scented potpourri and are often inquisitive enough to try and lap up the hot oil.   This can lead to severe chemical burns of the mouth and even to fevers, trembling and difficulty breathing.

Holiday plants are more common around the Christmas holiday, but some people will bring mistletoe and holly into their gathering as a way to "start" the season.  Both mistletoe and holly can be toxic to pets and lilies, even in very small amounts, can be deadly to cats.  Poinsettias, the periennial "bad plant" is actually over-rated.  It generally only causes a mild stomach upset.

Finally, from my friends at the Pet Poison Helpline, there is a new concern over imported snowglobes.  These common decorations often contain antifreeze (ethylene glycol).  If a snowglobe gets broken, you need to keep your pets away until it is completely cleaned up.  Amounts as small as one teaspoon of antifreeze can be fatal to cats and a tablespoon or two is fatal to small dogs.  

So...I am sorry that I have to bring up these "doom and gloom" type of journal entries, but so many of these accidents and poisonings can be avoided with a little common sense and by paying attention to what our pets are doing.

I hope everyone who will be celebrating Thanksgiving this week has a safe holiday and that you get to be with the ones you love...four legged and two legged!!

Mandatory Spay Neuter Laws

Nov 19, 2009 - 14 comments

mandatory spay neuter

Well, I just got word that Las Vegas has passed an ordinance mandating spaying and neutering in that city.  This follows the North Las Vegas law that was passed last year and, of course, the big dog on the block, Los Angeles, who started mandating sterilization in 2008.

I do agree that there are issues that need to be addressed with the number of animals euthanized in the US every year, I don't agree that mandatory spay neuter (MSN) legislation is the answer, especially when that is the only avenue cities offer.  And, major animal welfare groups, such as the ASPCA, major veterinary groups (AVMA and AAHA) and many Americans do not agree with this type of legislation.

Let's look at what happened in LA this past year (Facts from KCDogBlog):

Los Angeles had been on a downward spiral of euthanasias and intakes at their local shelter from 2001 until 2007.  In 2001, more than 40,000 dogs were received at the shelter and a whopping 22,675 were euthanized.  That's sad!   The numbers continued to decrease on both sides until 2007 when only 25,000 dogs were received and 6,000 euthanized.  That's impressive work by anyone's definition!

But, in 2008, when the mandatory spay neuter law went into effect, more than 30,000 dogs were received and 7500 were euthanized.   LA shelters took in more dogs in 2008 than they had since 2002.  

The reason:  the mandating of spaying and neutering your pet.   This type of statistic can be seen in most locales where uninformed government officials THINK that they are doing the right thing only to forget about the unintended consequences.  People don't like to be told that they MUST sterilize their pet.   Some object because they want to breed the pet, others object because they want the pet to remain "whole" and still others simply don't like the government interference.

So, people relinquish their pets because they don't want to or can't afford to spay/neuter the pet.  Others simply avoid getting care for their pet because they believe that the veterinarians will turn them into city officials and they will get a fine.  Those are some serious unintended consequences.

Purists will argue that the down economy and housing crisis likely played into the higher numbers and I believe that is probably true, but the fact still holds that this type of rebound is seen in every locality that attempts to mandate spay and neuter laws, even those enacted during "good" times.

It's time that we realize that MSN does not work and move onto things that DO work...like finding new ways to avoid euthanizing animals in shelters, finding funding for low cost spay and neuter programs that help people truly in need (and aren't abused by people who are well off enough to afford the surgery), and education that starts in schools and continues through to adult pet owners.

Believe it or not, there will come a day when most cities have MSN laws in place, pet owners will be called guardians and some crazy animal rights person will insist on suing a veterinarian because their pet was neutered and deprived of the opportunity to reproduce and/or the joy of mating.  That may sound far-fetched but I can assure you that people studying animal law are already looking at that very possibility.

I realize that not everyone will agree with this posting and I fully expect some severe pushback...so, as we say in radio, the lines are open....

H1N1 and Our Pets

Nov 05, 2009 - 34 comments

Yesterday, the Iowa Department of Public Health released a statement about a 13 year old cat who tested positive for H1N1.

The cat lived in a family in which 2 of the 3 human family members had flu-like symptoms in the previous week before the cat got sick.  After significant testing by the USDA, the Iowa Department of Public Health and Iowa State University’s Veterinary school, the cat was determined to have H1N1.

This follows on the news that a ferret in Oregon tested positive for the virus and a second ferret in Nebraska died after contracting H1N1.

So…should you be worried about your pets?

As many of you are aware, viruses tend not to move from their host species without significant mutations.   The H3N8 virus (canine influenza) is a good example of how an equine virus mutated and began to affect dogs.  But, some of our companion animals, like ferrets, are more susceptible to the Type A influenza viruses.  So, it was no surprise to most veterinarians when the ferrets mentioned above tested positive.  The same fact is true of birds, but we have only seen H1N1 show up in turkeys to date.

Of course, we are all well aware that the virus can be transmitted to hogs.

But, this cat brings a whole new focus on the virus and our relationship with pets.  For many of us, we love to sleep with our pets and cuddle up close to them when we are feeling poorly.  We often say that our pets “know” when we are sick and will come close to be our quiet support.  It’s probably this type of behavior that made it possible for the virus to infect the cat.  

So far, we don’t have a lot of details.   The cat was older (13) so there is always a possibility that he was immunosurpressed in some way.  The story states that he was an indoor only cat, but that does not preclude an early life of wandering outdoors and potentially contracting Feline Leukemia or FIV, which would also make it easier for another virus to infect him.

BUT…the biggest point I want to make is that this appears to be an isolated incident at this time and probably not a big concern for most pet owners.  If our pets were truly susceptible to this bug, we would likely have seen a higher number of cases to date…cases that mirrored human infection patterns.   And, we just haven’t seen it yet.

Still, it’s always good to play it safe.   Wash your hands often.   If you are sick, consider NOT snuggling with your furry friends until you are better.   And, if your pets appear sick, trust your veterinarian.  Your local animal hospital is equipped to handle this type of illness and can answer your questions.

Keep checking back to this blog and the journals of the veterinarians of PetDocsOnCall.com.   We will keep you posted about breaking news or any changes in our pets status with respect to H1N1