This is the third in a series of posts examining the comments made by No-Kill opponents in public discussions of the movement to save all healthy and treatable pets in our nation's shelters.
There's a new "talking point" popping up with orchestrated frequency wherever people gather to discuss the No-Kill Movement online. I call it "WILL NO ONE THINK OF THE STRAYS?!?!??" (All-caps and multiple exclamation points and question marks are required to really express the hysteria that underlies this particular talking point.)
Because it's new, a lot of No-Kill advocates aren't quite sure what to make of it -- which is exactly why they thought if up in the first place. It's certainly not because it's true.
To save all healthy and treatable homeless dogs and cats in our nation requires we find homes for around 2.5 million additional pets out of the pool of approximately 27 million households that get a new dog or cat each year.
This simple piece of math puts a huge crimp in the habitual contention of No-Kill opponents that there are "too many pets, not enough homes" and therefore slaughtering homeless pets in shelters is unavoidable.
The other problem with their old math is that communities all over the U.S. are routinely and sustainably saving more than 90 percent of their homeless pets without divine intervention, billions of dollars, or the laws of nature being turned on their heads.
They are doing it by implementing the No-Kill Equation:
All of which has left No-Kill opponents in search of something, anything, to change the math. So they came up with strays. I'm sorry; I mean, "STRAYS!!!!!"
What they're contending is that no matter how well shelters perform in saving the lives of the pets who come in their doors, it won't matter nor spell success because there are uncountable quadrazillions of stray dogs and cats all over the country, and if we add them into the equation, there really are "too many pets, not enough homes," just like they always told us back in the days before we learned to count.
The beauty of using this "gotcha" point to argue against no-kill is that it's a sensationalistic, vague, unquantified concept. Advocates of shelter reform could point to success in reducing intake and increasing lifesaving until literally every community in the country was saving more than 90 percent of the pets who enter its shelter system, and No-Kill opponents could still go, "It's all a lie because STRAYS!"
Are they right? No.
First, by their own admission and the best estimates of both feral cat advocates and enemies, the vast majority of unowned, unsheltered pets in this country are feral cats.
Feral cats are not "strays" and they're not "homeless." They are no more or less a matter for shelters to deal with than racoons are, and that is a simple fact we have to grasp if we're ever going to have a reasonable conversation about a humane approach to free-living, unowned cats in our communities.
Second, while there are a few areas with a "feral dog" problem, that's all there are: a few. I live in the Detroit metro area, where there are an estimated 20-50,000 free-roaming dogs on the streets. This is widely acknowledged to be the greatest density of such dogs in the United States. Detroit Dog Rescue fonder Dan "Hush" Carlisle estimates that 80-90 percent of them are recently abandoned pet dogs rather than feral dogs.
Nor are all these dogs homeless; many are currently owned dogs being allowed to run loose by their owners. That's also true in rural areas where dogs run loose. They are also not homeless.
Yes, there are pockets of truly feral dogs in junkyards, remote areas, and abandoned urban neighborhoods, usually running in mixed packs with free-roaming owned dogs. And while no one knows the exact number of truly homeless, free-living, feral dogs in the United States, no credible source contends the number is so large that it significantly alters the bigger picture of canine homelessness and sheltering.
Which is to say, it can be addressed by the No-Kill Equation, ie, targeted spay/neuter, rehabilitation, sanctuary, and adoption when the dog can be safely housed, or killing for the safety of society when the dog cannot be safely housed.
Of course, these facts won't do one damn thing to convince a "THINK OF THE STRAYS!!!!!" devotee to change his or her mind. That's because they didn't come up with it because of facts, they don't post it on Facebook dicussions because of facts, and they aren't even interested in facts. (Which is painfully clear, since they haven't got any.)
This is nothing, really, but baseless goal-post moving, and a reassuring (to us) sign that we have pretty much proven our contention that there are enough homes, and that communities that adopt the No Kill Equation can adopt, return-to-owner, spay/neuter, TNR, and embrace our fellow humans out of shelter killing.
Which is good news for the animals, even if the No-Kill nay-sayers will never admit it.
This is the second in a series of posts on the common tactics used in public discussions of animal sheltering reform by opponents of No-Kill. This one today is a perennial favorite of theirs: The distraction.
One of the reasons they like it so much is No-Kill advocates seem to fall for it a lot. So let me break it down for you.
First, there's a post about some elements of saving all healthy and treatable homeless pets in your community's shelters.
Soon, one or two or an avalanche of strangers appear, all with varying levels of politeness or hostility asking a few simple questions about totally unrelated issues: Farm animal conditions, vegetarianism or veganism, abortion, gun control, the Affordable Care Act, poverty, malnutrition in children, the threat of nuclear weapons in Iran or North Korea, and pretty much any other compelling social issue you can even imagine.
The gist of their questions is that you either can't really advocate for shelter pets if you don't also advocate for [fill in their chosen cause], and/or you shouldn't waste your time on shelter pets when there are all these other horrible problems demanding solutions.
It's very easy to let these people distract you from the actual work of shelter reform, and off the topic of saving the lives of homeless pets. That's because many of us are active in other forms of advocacy as well as shelter reform, and also because many people in our movement lead with our hearts, and want to address all forms of suffering and injustice.
Here's the thing, though: If you let yourself get pulled off in ten thousand directions chasing every injustice anyone mentions to you, you'll be completely demoralized and utterly ineffective in, oh, around ten minutes.
You'll also allow your message to become hopelessly muddied, and thus lose one of the biggest things the shelter reform movement has going for it: Near-universal support from average pet owners. That is, in fact, why our opponents are so vicious in their attempts to distract us and get us off message, because our message can't be contradicted otherwise.
Here's a handy test to know if a question should be answered: Is this a problem that has to be solved before we can save all our community's healthy and treatable homeless pets?
If the answer is "no," then it's a distraction, and you need to point that out and move on. Every minute you spend engaging on their terms is a minute you are not spending focusing on saving healthy and treatable pets.
Right now, the three topics that are most frequently used to divide and distract No-Kill advocates are abortion, farm animal treatment, and veganism.
Do many people in the No-Kill movement have opinions on these issues, particularly the last two? You bet. But we do not need to agree on any of those three things to save all the healthy and treatable pets.
We do not need to have many all-night consciousness-raising sessions on those issues to save all the healthy and treatable pets.
We do not need to limit our ranks to only those who hold the same views on those issues to save all the healthy and treatable pets -- in fact, doing so will only hamper our efforts.
In short, we do not need to resolve, mention, or otherwise discuss those issues to save all the healthy and treatable pets.
Therefore, even if they are issues you care about or want to advocate for or want to support or oppose, they are distractions from the work of saving all healthy and treatable pets. Attempts by people in public conversations to divert your attention to those issues is not part of making the picture bigger or widening the circle of our compassion or even changing our ethical priorities; it's about stopping the No-Kill Movement.
Stop. Falling. For. It.
Gas chamber defenders have a predictable set of defenses they trot out whenever their right to gas pets is challenged. Let's take a look at them.
1. The AVMA says it's okay.
While the American Veterinary Medical Association continues to stand on the wrong side of history on this one, the fact is, if you actually look at what the AVMA says in its supposed "defense" of the gas chamber, you'll find that they've put so many qualifications on that seal of approval virtually no shelter could possibly comply with their guidelines for its use – certainly not the backwards, poorly-performing shelters most likely to be clinging to the gas chamber:
In previous editions of the guidelines, the use of carbon monoxide (CO) or carbon dioxide (CO2) gas was considered ‘acceptable’ for euthanasia of dogs and cats. In the 2013 Guidelines, the classification for use of these gases has been changed to ‘acceptable with conditions’…. The use of these techniques requires that specific conditions be met to ensure that death is achieved in a humane way. When ALL of the conditions are met, ‘acceptable with conditions’ methods are equivalent to ‘acceptable’ methods. And, if all conditions are not met, they are not considered ‘acceptable.’
Some of those conditions include:
The AVMA statement concludes, "Gas chambers are not recommended for routine euthanasia of cats and dogs in shelters and animal control operations."
So if a shelter truly wants to live and die by the AVMA's blessing on the gas chamber, they'd better be prepared to meet all the standards for its use. They might also want to take a look at the raging debate about this on the AVMA website, where you'll find that the organization itself knows its position is not popular with its member veterinarians, who haven't been shy about letting them know.
2. We can't afford to kill animals individually.
Guess what? Killing pets by injection is actually less expensive than gassing them to death. Even if there are some costs associated with making the transition, the gas chamber is so unpopular with average Americans that raising those funds should be a snap for any organization with enough operational savvy to hold a bake sale or make a Facebook post. (Fakkema D. Euthanasia By Injection Training Guide, American Humane 2009)
3. Killing animals individually is too hard on our staff.
If you want to make the job easier on your staff, don't rely on the gas chamber. The Association of Shelter Veterinarians has this to say:
Use of carbon monoxide cannot be justified as a means to… distance staff emotionally and physically from the euthanasia process. Studies have shown that carbon monoxide…. has not been shown to provide emotional benefits for staff. Some shelter workers have reported being distressed by hearing animals vocalizing, scratching and howling in the chamber, and by having to repeat the process when animals survived the first procedure
Additionally, exposure to carbon monoxide is dangerous to human shelter staff; at least one shelter worker was killed on the job by the odorless, tasteless gas. (Gilbert, Kathy; "Humane Society Cited in Death of Employee." The Times & Free Press, Chattanooga, TN, July 25, 2000)
There are reasons the AVMA has put so many conditions on its oft-cited "approval" of gas chambers in shelters, and why the Association of Shelter Veterinarians is unequivocal in its opposition to the practice.
And there are no reasons at all to keep doing it.
Toll House cookie recipe:
Ingredient list of Nestle's Toll House frozen cookie dough:
Bleached Enriched Flour (Wheat Flour, Niacin, Reduced Iron, Thiamin Mononitrate, Riboflavin, Folic Acid), Sugar, Hot Fudge Filling (High Fructose Corn Syrup, Hydrogenated Coconut Oil,Corn Syrup, Sugar, Water, Cocoa [Processed with Alkali], Non-Fat Milk, Modified Cornstarch, Disodium Phosphate, Salt, Potassium Sorbate[Preservative], Soy Lecithin, Artificial Flavor),Margarine (Palm Oil, Water, Sunflower Oil, Hydrogenated Cottonseed Oil, Salt, Vegetable Mono & Diglycerides, Soy Lecithin, Natural & Artificial Flavors, Vitamin A Palmitate Added, Beta Carotene [Color], Whey), Nestle Toll House Morsels (Semi-Sweet Chocolate [Sugar,Chocolate, Cocoa Butter, Milkfat, Soy Lecithin, Vanillin-an Artificial Flavor, Natural Flavor]), Water, Eggs, Molasses, Salt, Baking Soda (Contains Soy Lecithin), Vanilla Extract, Vanillin-an Artificial Flavor.
Transfats, high-fructose corn syrup, artificial flavors, and preservatives. And a whole generation of children growing up thinking you make cookies by taking a hunk of Frankenfood out of the freezer and heating it in the oven.
My Val has PLN, a progressive kidney disease common in Greyhounds. I was thinking of making some diet and supplement changes, and went to join a list I used to belong to, the K9KidneyDiet Yahoo Group.
I filled out the brief form Yahoo provides, and got this in reply:
Hello, and thank you for requesting membership to the K9KDiet Group. Please take a moment to provide us with the following information: (NOTE: The short comment that was filled out at the YahooGroups site when requesting an application for membership does NOT supercede or take the place of the following Membership Application).
The initial inquiry you sent to Yahoo is held for 5 days. If the Membership Application (below) is not completed and returned we will understand you changed your mind, and will remove the initial inquiry from pending.
WE TAKE THE SAFETY AND SECURITY OF OUR MEMBERS VERY SERIOUSLY. TO THAT END, A CONDITION OF INITIAL AND CONTINUED MEMBERSHIP IS VERIFIABLE, ACCURATE, AND COMPLETE INFORMATION WHICH IDENTIFIES YOU AS WHO YOU STATE YOURSELF TO BE. THIS INFORMATION IS NEVER SHARED WITH THE LIST MEMBERSHIP, AND LIMITED EXCLUSIVELY TO THE LIST OWNERS AND MODERATORS FOR VERIFICATION PURPOSES.
NOTE: We REQUIRE to know your PAID PRIMARY Email Address (i.e., Comcast, Aol, Earthlink, etc... ). This is for VERIFICATION purposes.
Also note that none of the (below) information will be shared or conveyed to any group member at any time. It is MANDATORY that you answer ALL the questions, completely and accurately to be considered for membership.
1.) Paid Primary Email Account (Mandatory):
2.) The email account you intend to use for mail from this group:
3.) Your Full Name , Address, City/State, and Phone:
4.) Kennel Name (if Applicable):
5.)Your website (if Applicable):
6.) The breed of dog(s) you own:
7.) A short intro/reason as to why you wish to join K9KidneyDiet (i.e., is your dog in renal failure, does he/she have bladder stones, chronic urinary tract infections, etc.):
(a) How did you learn about this list?
(b)If from a fellow member, or other individual, please include their name:
9.) Are you a list owner and/or moderator of any other pet-related online group? Please list all:
10.) Are you a member of any other pet-related online group? Please list all:
11.) Do you own or work for a pet-related company? Please explain:
12.) Are you a Veterinary Professional? A Medical Professional? Please list your position and affiliation:
THE APPROACH TO KIDNEY DISEASES IS NOT 'ONE-SIZE-FITS-ALL'. MEMBERS HERE HAVE GAINED QUITE A LOT OF FIRST-HAND EXPERIENCE WITH THEIR OWN DOGS OVER MANY YEARS AND IT IS THAT WHICH WE SHARE. WE ARE NOT VETERINARIANS. MEMBERS WILL NOT, AND CANNOT DIAGNOSE OR PRESCRIBE. THEY SIMPLY SHARE WHAT THEIR OWN EXPERIENCES HAVE BEEN. No member claims to have a "magic bullet" or the know-how for curing any ailment. Opinions expressed on this list are not necessarily those of the list owners, &/or moderators. What may work for one dog may not work for another. IT IS UP TO EACH MEMBER TO FULLY RESEARCH ANYTHING READ ON K9KIDNEYDIET AND TO DISCUSS IT WITH THEIR OWN VETERINARIAN(S).
WE STRONGLY BELIEVE THAT THE BETTER WE UNDERSTAND KIDNEY DISEASE THE BETTER PREPARED WE CAN BE TO HELP OUR DOGS. WE ALSO ADVOCATE FORGING PARTNERSHIPS WITH OUR VETERINARIANS. WE FEEL THE BEST OUTCOMES COMBINE OUR UNDERSTANDING OF THE DISEASE WITH STRONG PROFESSIONAL RELATIONSHIPS WITH OUR DOGS’ VETERINARY TEAM.
The diet of a renal dog can seldom stay the same for long. Predictable changes in taste & preference are a challenge. Experiences are shared on how others have handled similar situations. K9KD is not a storehouse of recipes. Each dog is unique in presentation, and preferences. Focus is on home - prepared foods. It is expected that while not all will agree on feeding methods and treatment protocols, all members will treat each other with respect in regard to individual opinions.
While K9KDiet is a supportive group, it is important to point out that we are not a Support Group, and our focus is on discussion and understanding of the physical aspects of kidney diseases and associated complications. Regardless, an emotionally supportive and respectful environment is expected at all times. Flaming, disrespect, sarcasm & passive aggressive behavior is not permitted.
K9KDIET IS NOT AFFILIATED WITH ANY OTHER GROUP, FORUM, OR LIST.
Upon approval to the group, a questionnaire will be emailed along with informational documents that other list members found helpful in the beginning. The questionnaire provides a point of reference in regard to what you have done so far with your dog, what your dogs' Veterinarian has advised, and what treatment plan you have chosen.
We ask you to refrain from asking general questions before submitting the questionnaire. It is difficult, if not impossible to form a credible overall 'picture' of your dog via multiple emails over a period of days. We have found the questionnaire to be a reliable and time saving method to create a 'snapshot' with which to begin.
******** DISCLAIMER: K9KDiet is a list for sharing ideas, opinions and information only. The information on K9KD is not intended to be used as veterinary advice, or to replace consultation with a qualified Veterinarian. WE ARE NOT VETERINARIANS, (although we have Veterinarian members), and WE DO NOT PRESCRIBE. No member claims to have a "magic bullet" or the know-how for curing any ailment. Opinions expressed on this list are not necessarily those of the list owners, &/or moderators. What may work for one dog may not work for another. To that end, it is up to each individual member- individually and independently - to thoroughly research anything shared on this list and to speak to their Veterinarian. K9KD OWNERS, MODERATORS, AND MEMBERS, SHALL BE HELD HARMLESS FROM ANY GRIEVANCE OR ACTION BY ANY LIST MEMBER. NOTE: K9KD POSTS AND FILES AND/OR PORTIONS THEREOF ARE COPYRIGHTED, AND MAY NOT BE REPRODUCED, FORWARDED or SHARED without express written permission from both the author and the list owners.
YOUR ACCEPTANCE OF MEMBERSHIP ACKNOWLEDGES YOUR AGREEMENT WITH AND ACCEPTANCE OF THE TERMS STATED ABOVE.
Promotion, marketing, and/or sales of any product to K9KD members is not allowed, on or off list. If any member contacts you with offers to sell or promote any specific product or service, we ask that you notify us by sending an email to K9KidneyDietemail@example.com
At first I laughed, then I got pissed off, and then I just had to come here and share this paranoid insanity with you all.
I own and have owned many email lists. I get wanting a disclaimer. I get wanting to know a little bit about the people joining your list. I get reminding them of the "rules of the road." But there is no shortage of places to get information about canine kidney diets without having to give fingerprints and a DNA sample.
So by all means, K9KidneyDiet moderator, remove my application from your files. I wonder how many people have been so desperate to get information to help their sick dogs they just gritted their teeth and filled this out? And I wonder how many, like me, just walked away -- people who perhaps didn't have the skills and experience to find the information they needed somewhere else?
Sad and bizarre.
I've been a pet writer since 1991. In that time, I've probably received enough snail mail and email asking questions about pet health, diet, and behavior to fill my house. So I think I'm qualified to identify a trend that has persisted over time.
Someone writes me with several paragraphs -- or pages -- about their pet's medical issues. They list the symptoms they've observed, the remedies they've tried, and lots and lots of minute details about the time of day the pet exhibits certain symptoms, the color and consistency of discharges, and the entire history of every bite of food said pet has ever consumed.
In a huge percentage of these missives, nowhere are the opinion of the pet's veterinarian, the results of the veterinarian's physical exam, nor any diagnostic tests mentioned.
The only way I ever respond to this type of letter is by asking, "What did the vet say?"
Sometimes they reply telling me what the vet said, but usually they say they haven't been to the vet, even in the cases of pets with fairly troubling symptoms that have persisted for weeks or months.
Now, I realize that some pet owners cannot afford to go to the vet, or can only do so if it's a dire and acute emergency. There are some resources to help these pet owners get care for their pets, but they're not easy to find and don't usually cover the entire amount. It's a bad situation and I sympathize with the people caught in it.
They're not who I'm talking about here.
I'm talking about the ones who respond to my query about the vet with some variation on the following sentence: "I don't want to go to the vet because he'll just put him on antibiotics," or whatever treatment the person doesn't want the pet to receive, or thinks will be futile.
Let me explain this as simply as I can: No veterinarian can "put your pet" on anything without your consent. And if they try, it's your responsibility as your pet's owner to ask for something more from your veterinarian than to have a prescription shoved in your face.
If that seems overwhelming to you, I understand. Confronting authority is hard. Learning to have an equal and productive partnership with an authority figure is also hard. Hell, finding a good veterinarian is hard, let alone one who is located within driving distance and has good communication skills.
But here's the thing: Your pets can't find their own veterinarians, can't advocate for better care, can't even tell the vet where it hurts. They are entirely dependent on you to do that.
If you feel your veterinarian doesn't listen and doesn't see you as a partner, you need to either speak with her about that and see if you can fix things, or find a veterinarian with whom you have some rapport.
Additionally, even if you have a hard time communicating with your veterinarian, he may still have extremely valuable information about your pet's condition to give you. Vets have, after all, seen thousands of pets with these same symptoms. They know what diagnostic tests are available and which are likely to narrow down the diagnostic and treatment possibilities for your pet.
They can also write prescriptions for pain medication as well as drugs for bacterial, viral, or fungal infections that might be at the root of a pet's symptoms.
If nothing else, they can help you rule out a lot of things you were "treating" your pet for with your home remedies, and ideally allay your worst fears.
Of course, just as there are vets who have poor communication skills, there are vets who don't practice good medicine. They don't keep up with advances in the field, don't use good diagnostic skills, and shove an antibiotic and/or steroid at everything. These are bad vets, and you shouldn't be giving them your money in the first place. The answer, however, is not to stop going to the vet, but to find a good vet.
You may be locked out of the pet health market by finances, or live somewhere there simply are few or no veterinarians, but your own lack of backbone should not be allowed to compromise your pet's health, nor prevent you from accessing the information necessary to make an informed decision about her care.
You can set the stage for better care the minute the vet enters the exam room by telling him you're not just looking for a prescription, but a diagnosis and an understanding of your pet's condition before the exam. Be friendly but clear. You may find your vet welcomes a client who really wants to get to the bottom of a pet's health condition; many people actually get pissed off when their vets want to run diagnostic tests, assuming they're just doing it to pad the bill.
Even before that appointment, go to trustworthy veterinary sites -- I highly recommend VeterinaryPartner.com, the pet owner website of the Veterinary Information Network -- and search for accurate information about the conditions you suspect your pet has. See what diagnostics are usually done in these cases, and what the treatment options might be. This can help when you're in the exam room with your veterinarian.
Still too overwhelming? I get it. Maybe you're shy, or maybe you're just too close to the issue to be objective. Find a friend or family member with more detachment to come with you and ask the tough questions.
Finally, remember that taking some time to consider your options is not just okay, it's admirable. If your veterinarian tells you something you don't understand or don't like, tell her you would like to think about it, unless she feels that would put your pet's life at risk.
Maybe you just need a few minutes to re-group. Maybe you need to sleep on it. Unless your pet needs emergency surgery or is really suffering, a few hours or a day usually won't make that much difference.
Ask your veterinarian to give you a written diagnosis and include any information you want to consider, including costs. If you came alone, get on the phone and talk it over with a trusted friend. Or go home and visit some of those reliable Internet websites again, and see what you can find out online.
If you're still unsure, either because you think the vet missed something or because you can't afford everything that was suggested, ask your vet for options. Be honest and open about financial constraints, or things you don't understand.
If the vet acts as if you're being unreasonable, get as much out of this particular appointment as you can, and as soon as possible, start your search for a new veterinarian who will welcome a client who is thoughtful and thorough.
But don't just slink away into the darkness whining about what you think your veterinarian will do or say. When you do that, you're abdicating a huge hunk of the very real obligation you have to your pet: To be her advocate, and take care of her as best you can. Be strong. Keep the faith.
The American Veterinary Medical Assocation (AVMA) publishes a great email newsletter called SmartBrief, which shares interesting animal health-related stories five days a week. I've subscribed to it since it launched, and I find it extremely useful.
I've noticed that they write blurbs and headlines for the stories they link to, both to make them more "clickable" and, sometimes, to focus on a piece of the story that's more relevant to their veterinary audience than the story as a whole. That's fine. That's editorial judgment. As an editor myself, as well as a reader, I like that.
Today, however, they plopped a headline on a story from Phys.Org about a recent study on the nutrient composition of raw meat: "Study: Raw meat falls short on feline nutrition."
In case that wasn't enough to carry their message, this is the blurb they wrote to go along with the article:
New research has found that raw meat diets do not meet the full spectrum of feline nutritional needs for captive and domestic cats. The study evaluated horse, bison, cattle and elk meat. All the diets were short on linoleic acid, and the horse meat did not contain sufficient arachidonic acid for kittens or for gestating or lactating females. A raw diet fed to domestic cats often omits necessary fat and important fatty acids and exposes cats to pathogens that may be in raw food, and it can also promote a change to the gut flora.
This seemed odd to me. Why would raw meat have a different nutrient profile than cooked meat? Why are we even discussing horsemeat, pretty much the only mammal meat I haven't seen used in homemade or commercial raw diets (or cooked diets, for that matter)?
So I clicked over, expecting to see one of those studies where the researchers scraped three-day-old road kill off the highway and analyzed it for bacterial contamination to scare those of us feeding raw diets into rushing down to the market and picking up a sack of kibble.
But no. What I see is an interesting, impartial study on the varying nutrient profiles of different types of meat commonly fed in zoos: bison, cattle, horses, and elk.
The actual headline: "Raw meat diets may not be enough for cats or tigers."
Then there's the sub-head: "Animal scientists say a raw meat diet is a good source of protein for cats, but pet owners may need to supplement with other nutrients."
So, a raw meat diet is a good source of protein for cats, but pet owners may need to supplement it with other nutrients. Okay. Since I'm not aware of a single homemade diet that consists of nothing but meat, cooked or raw, this appears to be a pretty innocuous, dare I say obvious, statement.
From the PhysOrg story:
[Researchers] found that raw meat diets met many nutrient requirements for cats, but there were some gaps. None of the diets contained the recommended levels of linoleic acid, the horsemeat did not provide the levels of arachidonic acid recommended for kittens, gestating females and lactating females.
This research is important for animal scientists, zoos and pet owners.
The researchers explain that captive tigers, jaguars and African wildcats were traditionally fed horsemeat-based raw diets. "With the closing of horse abattoirs in 2007, the availability of quality grade horsemeat in the United States has decreased, increasing the need for research on the digestibility and composition of possible alternatives," write the researchers.
There is also a growing trend of raw meat diets for domestic housecats. Kelly Swanson, associate professor in animal science at the University of Illinois and coauthor of the study, said the researchers are "a bit wary" of pet owners feeding homemade raw diets. He said pet owners risk exposing cats to increased pathogens and nutrient imbalances.
Pet owners often feed trimmed cuts of meat. These cuts lack fat, which is crucial in feline diets. According to the researchers, if pet owners feed raw meat diets, they will likely have to supplement it with other nutrients, including appropriate sources of fat and essential fatty acids.
There was also some discussion of how raw meat diets alter the gut flora, which the SmartBrief blurb seemed to imply was a newly-discovered and negative effect, despite at least one earlier study that found grain-based diets also alter the gut flora of kittens -- a Phys.Org article they somehow neglected to feature when it came out late last year.
Apparently the editors of the AVMA SmartBrief took it upon themselves to take a balanced piece of research that contains truly useful information about feline diets and spin it to fit the AVMA's established anti-raw diet stance.
The AVMA is entitled to its own views on raw pet diets, and I have no problem with discussions of bacterial contamination in pet foods. Heck, I wish they'd be as concerned about the contamination of the entire food chain with fecal bacteria, and start throwing their weight around preventing the bacteria from getting in there in the first place instead of turning it into a home kitchen problem that can only be solved by sterilizing our food before eating it or feeding it to our pets.
But to deliberately twist the content and meaning of a scientific study to bolster their position? They should be ashamed.
Lately I've been seeing a number of distinct and similarly-worded objections to the No-Kill movement appearing with predictable regularity on public discussions. This is the first in a series of posts examining these messages for their underlying meanings.
Remember the old joke, "Why did you rob a bank?"
The answer is, "Because that's where the money is."
So the next time you see someone post on Facebook or a website about how the No-Kill movement should be targeting sources of shelter animals rather than shelters where the animals are killed, tell them this:
We pressure shelters to reform because that's where pets are being killed.
There is nothing wrong with developing a comprehensive analysis of how pets end up in shelters in the first place, nor a plan to reduce that intake. Indeed, without doing those two things, you create more work for your shelters and rescue groups and more stress and anxiety for the pets you want to help. That's why affordable and accessible spay/neuter, TNR for community cats, pet retention, and return-to-owner programs are all part of the No-Kill Equation.
But to draw a line in the sand and say that until all those efforts outside the shelter have been fully implemented and the entire community has been re-educated to treat their pets exactly how we'd like them to be treated, we're not going to reform our shelters and animal control agencies, is one of the most bizarre and unworkable forms of denial imaginable.
Animals are being killed by shelters, so that's where we must focus our most intense efforts. Those other efforts are important in the long run, but they will not save the lives of pets in shelters right this minute.
It's also a false choice. Can you find a single shelter in the country that does a great job of adoption, return-to-owner, and pet retention that doesn't also do a great job with intake-reduction programs? I can't.
That's because what we're really advocating for here is not to "trash shelters," as I hear all the time from kill-shelter apologists, but for good sheltering practices. All of them, from intake reduction to adoption to pet retention and more.
While some of the messages being wielded against the No-Kill movement are pretty convoluted, this one is both basic and well-worn. It's simply being re-framed a little to be, "Why are you blaming shelters when they're not causing the problem?" instead of some of its previous iterations about the irresponsible public.
Why did they re-frame? A few reasons. One, we've done a really good job pointing out that most members of the public are responsible.
Two, while blaming the irresponsible public plays well with shelter apologists and those who run bad shelters, it doesn't play well with the public itself. This is about public messaging, not insider enabling.
Three, they're feeling attacked and are getting defensive; in fact, I'd go so far as to say they're getting whiny. (By the way, that means we're winning.)
So the next time someone asks, "Why are you blaming the shelters?" tell them, "Because that's who's killing the animals."
In a classic Friday night dump and run, Nature's Variety has issued what they called a "Quality Announcement," apparently the term d'jour for pet food manufacturers issuing recalls. They're recalling their Instinct raw organic chicken formula for dogs and cats not, as you might be expecting, for salmonella, but because there may be pieces of plastic in the food.
From their "quality announcement":
Nature’s Variety has announced a voluntary recall of one batch of Instinct® Raw Organic Chicken Formula with a "Best if Used By" date of 10/04/13. This action is being taken because pieces of clear plastic may be found in some bags and could cause a potential choking risk to pets. The source of plastic has been identified and the issue has been resolved.
The affected product is strictly limited to a single batch of Organic Chicken Formula with the “Best if Used By” date of 10/04/13. This includes:
• UPC# 7 69949 60137 1 – Instinct Raw Organic Chicken Formula medallions, 3 lbs. bag
• UPC# 7 69949 70137 8 – Instinct Raw Organic Chicken Formula medallions, 27 lbs. case
• UPC# 7 69949 60127 2 – Instinct Raw Organic Chicken Formula patties, 6 lbs. bag
• UPC# 7 69949 70127 9 – Instinct Raw Organic Chicken Formula patties, 36 lbs. case
The "Best if Used By" date is located on the back of the package below the "Contact Us" section. The affected product was distributed through retail stores and internet sales in the United States and Canada. No other products were impacted.
Nature’s Variety became aware of a potential issue after receiving a consumer complaint. The source of the issue was identified and resolved. To date, there have been no reports of harm to dogs or cats.
Read the rest here.
Eleven representatives of national animal organizations and state shelters have joined in asking for an investigation of the shooting of five caged dogs by a police officer in a municipal shelter in Selma, California.
From the letter, addressed to Fresno County District Attorney Elizabeth A. Egan:
We have learned of the shooting that happened at the Selma Animal Shelter last week, during which an unnamed officer allegedly shot five dogs still inside their closed kennels. In at least one television news interview, Selma’s police chief Myron Dyck not only admitted that the incident occurred, but stated that such action was justified because the dogs were allegedly aggressive and already slated for euthanasia. In another news story, Selma’s City Manager D-B Heusser is quoted as saying about these dogs and the shooting: “They were very aggressive… It had to be done."
We cannot express strongly enough that both the actions of the officer in question and the defense of such actions are unacceptable, and we request that you investigate the incident and pursue every appropriate legal recourse to hold this officer accountable.
The officer in question shot five dogs while they were still inside in their kennels, allegedly because he feared for his life. We in the animal care and control industry cannot fathom a scenario where a dog safely behind closed kennel bars would be able to inflict bodily injury on a human standing on the outside of the kennel.
Animal shelters are intended to be safe havens for pets that are homeless, abandoned, abused, neglected, or otherwise in need of care. The people entrusted with this important responsibility should exemplify the highest standards of compassion, regardless of the animals’ physical appearance or behavioral status. We understand more than anyone else the challenges and demands that animal control professionals face every day, and we are proud to stand behind the men and women who perform this lifesaving work humanely and professionally (including, we trust, others who care for animals at the Selma Animal Shelter). However, as the facts have been reported in this case, we find no excuse or justification for the callous disregard for animals this officer exhibited. Moreover, we cannot stand behind an agency or its leadership that would permit such a horrific abuse of the public’s trust to take place and do anything other than condemn it.
The letter is signed by Jennifer Fearing, California Senior State Director of the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS); Nancy McKenney, Executive Director of the Marin Humane Society; Eric Sakach, Senior Law Enforcement Official, HSUS; Cindy Machado, Director of Animal Services, Marin Humane Society; Inga Fricke, Director, Shelter & Rescue Group Services, HSUS; Lisa Carter, Executive Director, Santa Cruz SPCA & Humane Society; Jennifer Scarlett, DVM, Co-President, San Francisco SPCA; Brandy Kuentzel, Esq., Corporate Counsel/Dir of Advocacy, San Francisco SPCA; Dave Dickinson, Director, Sacramento County Animal Care; Rick Johnson, Executive Director, Sacramento SPCA; Tara Diller, Administrative Services Officer II, Sacramento County Animal Care.
Update from Jennifer Fearing: "Ledy vanKavage, Esq., Sr. Legislative Attorney, Best Friends Animal Society, has also aligned with the sentiments in the letter and will follow up with Selma officials to add on."
The entire letter can be read here (PDF).
But as of today, I have a new policy. In addition to deleting spam, I'll be deleting any form of hate, including any comments saying poor people shouldn't have pets because they won't be able to take care of them.
Not. Welcome. Here.