Eagle Post: How To Take Your Dog Just About Anywhere

Tom Donnelly writes on veterinary matters in the USA.

In June, a miniature Yorkshire terrier caused a fuss at a fancy Manhattan restaurant. From a Google review of Altesi Ristorante: “Lunch was ruined because Ivana Trump sat next to us with her dog which she even let climb to the table. I told her no dogs allowed but she lied that hers was a service dog.” Internet discussions said the owner of Altesi, Paolo Alavian, defended Trump. “She walked into the restaurant and she showed the emotional-support card,” he said. “Basically, people with the card are allowed to bring their dogs into the restaurant. This is the law.”
Signor Alavian is mistaken: it’s not the law.

To digress briefly, several years ago in this column, I wrote about the growing trend of people with mental illnesses relying on what are known as therapy, comfort or “emotional support” animals (ESAs) to stem the symptoms of their illness. In New York genuine individuals were challenging landlords in court over rules that did not allow pets in rental apartments. However, such situations set two rights in conflict – the renter’s right to cope with a medical condition and the landlords’ right to control and maintain their property. The New York trend has become a nation-wide trend as illustrated by a recent three-year legal battle in Washington state that involved the federal government, Scrappee Anne, a miniature schnauzer, and her owner Diana Alton a 65-year-old woman who has post-traumatic stress disorder, clinical depression and cannot work. Alton’s landlords required her to pay a $1,000 pet deposit for her apartment. In November 2014 the landlords, Linda and Bert Barber, after incurring $175,000 in legal fees fighting Alton and the U.S. Department of House and Urban Development (HUD), which represented her, agreed to pay a $25,000 settlement to Alton and the government just to end it all. Continue reading Eagle Post: How To Take Your Dog Just About Anywhere

Kiwi Post: Remember When You Were Young

The greatest introduction to any song in the history of man is of course the almost nine minutes of instrumental that kick off “Shine On You Crazy Diamond’, by Pink Floyd. I defy anyone with an ounce of heart to sit through that 8:50 of creative genius without feeling moved.

That’s before the dulcet tones of Roger Waters ask us to ‘”Remember when we were young”. The lyrics are suitably poignant and the whole song is simply a masterpiece. Remember, this was created in an era when we were dropping napalm onto villagers in jungles and building more and more atomic bombs. Not much else from 40 years ago comes anywhere near to being as much value to humankind as this one song alone.

As veterinarians, we like to think of ourselves as scientists. We consider evidence and we weigh up cause and effect. We talk of evidence-based medicine. We argue the science to justify the procedure. Continue reading Kiwi Post: Remember When You Were Young

Vet Ethics: The business of animal abuse

Over the last few years there have been two explosive Four Corners reports about animal abuse associated with Australian animal industries. The first, as you will recall, was the expose on live animal export. In that report, the public learnt that many Australian animals exported to overseas destinations were subject routinely to the most shocking and abusive treatment.

The more recent Four Corners report, of course, revealed to a mass audience the existence of widespread cruelty in the Australian greyhound industry. The public was informed of the practice of live baiting greyhounds – or “blooding” them as participants have long called it – which causes in small animals like possums, piglets, and rabbits extreme fear and suffering.

In one sense, the “ethics” of this treatment of animals is clear-cut: both industry and the general population condemn it as unacceptable, and such treatment of animals in Australia is a criminal offence. Continue reading Vet Ethics: The business of animal abuse

Pigeon Post: Ian Neville writes from the UK

February saw the status of veterinary nurses in the UK enhanced by a Royal Charter conferring professional recognition and requiring accountable regulation. From now on Registered Veterinary Nurses (RVNs) will be subject to rules similar to those governing their veterinary surgeon colleagues. The RVN’s will be overseen by the vet’s regulatory body the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons (RCVS). RVN’s will be permitted to carry out minor operations but will be required to abide by a code of professional conduct, declare any convictions, cautions or adverse findings and complete 45 hours of continuing professional development (CPD) over a rolling three year period – i.e. an average of 15 hours per annum. The annual registration fee for RVN’s is currently set at £61 (A$120), registration for veterinary surgeons is £299 ($587) p.a. and their compulsory CPD requirement is 105 hours over three years.

Another piece of news with more personal royal associations is the apparent decline in the popularity of the Pembroke Welsh Corgi in the UK – a breed long favoured by The Queen. The Kennel Club (KC) has reported that the breed’s popularity has been in decline since a peak of over 9,000 registrations in 1960. Continue reading Pigeon Post: Ian Neville writes from the UK

Eagle Post: Tom Donnelly writes from the US

In 2016, a new US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) policy will give veterinarians a key role in combating a surge in antibiotic-resistant bacteria. For the first time, the agency will require veterinarians, not farmers, to decide when antibiotics are administered. While medical doctors issue antibiotics by prescription only, farmers and food companies have been able to buy the same or similar drugs over the counter to add to feed and water. Antibiotics not only help prevent disease but enable livestock to grow faster on less feed. Today, about 80 per cent of all antibiotics used in the US go to food-producing animals. The new FDA directive is meant to guard against the overuse of the drugs in American meat production. But by enlisting the help of veterinarians, a Reuters examination found, the FDA will be empowering a profession that not only has allegiances to animals, farmers and public health, but also has pervasive and undisclosed financial ties to drug manufacturers.

The relationships between medical doctors and the pharmaceutical industry are subject to strict rules. The Physician Payments Sunshine Act (2010) has disclosed billions of dollars in payments to doctors from drug companies. There is a reason financial transparency was put in place for physicians – increasing evidence of conflicts of interest influencing doctors’ decisions. However, no laws or regulations, including the new FDA directives, require veterinarians to reveal financial connections to drug companies.

Drug and medical-device companies are pouring millions of dollars a year into research and development of pet medicines, Continue reading Eagle Post: Tom Donnelly writes from the US