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

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

Eagle Post: Tom Donnelly reports from the US

Before this year, Ebola was a disease relegated to remote villages in Africa. Even public health officials did not worry about it spreading very far. Until recently, they would probably say that the virus typically burned out after ravaging only a handful of people. Then came 2014, a year that has, in many ways, rewritten the . . . → Read More: Eagle Post: Tom Donnelly reports from the US

Eagle Post: too many vets?

Thomas Donnelly, BVSc DipVP DipACLAM reports from the US.

You may have seen the US Veterinary Workforce Study published by the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) recently, or read the reports in Veterinary Record (May 2013, Vol 172, Issue 18) that suggest the supply of veterinarians in the USA may be exceeding demand for their services. Although specific to the US, as concerns are also being expressed about a likely oversupply of vets in Australia, the findings are of great interest.

The findings support a February 24 story in the New York Times entitled “High debt and falling demand trap new vets.” The story described a 30-year old vet, Hayley Schafer working in Gilbert, Arizona with $312,000 owing in student loans and depicts a profession bogged down by exorbitant educational costs, a looming oversupply of practitioners and the public’s declining demand for pet health care. Comments on Veterinary Information Network (VIN) reached fever pitch garnering more than 400 posts. Specifically, the results suggest that approximately 12.5 per cent of veterinary services in the US went unused in 2012 and that demand for veterinary services was sufficient to employ only 78,950 of the 90,200 vets currently working in clinical and non-clinical settings. The AVMA further suggested that excess capacity is likely to persist for the near future, even if US veterinary colleges were to limit expansion in enrolment. The study predicts the excess capacity will range from 11-14 per cent annually until 2025. Overcapacity is greatest in equine practice (23 per cent), followed by small animal (18 per cent), food animal (15 per cent) and mixed practice (13 per cent).

Many US veterinarians are already angry with the AVMA for recently accrediting Ross University in the Caribbean, which graduates over 300 veterinarians per year, and the National Autonomous University of Mexico. At present, there are 28 AVMA accredited schools in the US and 11 in other countries (including three in Australia and one in New Zealand). Another two new veterinary schools – Midwestern University in Arizona and Lincoln Memorial University in Tennessee – remain on track to open in 2014. Continue reading Eagle Post: too many vets?

Eagle Post

On one covert video, farm workers illegally burn the ankles of Tennessee walking horses with chemicals. Another captures workers in Wyoming punching and kicking pigs and flinging piglets into the air. Moreover, at one of the country’s largest egg suppliers, a video shows hens caged alongside rotting bird corpses, while workers burn and snap off the beaks of young chicks.

Each video – all shot in the last two years by undercover animal rights activists — drew a swift response. Federal prosecutors in Tennessee charged the horse trainer and other workers, who have pleaded guilty, with violating the federal US Horse Protection Act. Local authorities in Wyoming charged nine farm employees with cruelty to animals. In addition, the egg supplier, which operates in Iowa and other states, lost one of its biggest customers, McDonald’s, which said the video played a part in its decision.

However, a dozen or so state legislatures have had a different reaction: They proposed or enacted bills that would make it illegal to covertly videotape livestock farms, or apply for a job at one without disclosing ties to animal rights groups. They have also drafted measures to require such videos to be given to the authorities almost immediately, which activists say would thwart any meaningful undercover investigation of large factory farms.

Some of the legislation appears inspired by the American Legislative Exchange Council, a business advocacy group with hundreds of state representatives from farm states as members. The group creates model bills, drafted by lobbyists and lawmakers that in the past have included such things as “stand your ground” gun laws and tighter voter identification rules. Continue reading Eagle Post