Just take a quick look at these distressing photos, and it’s obvious: Many puppy mill dogs clearly do not receive adequate veterinary care. The dogs in these photos are suffering from symptoms of grave neglect—emaciation, severe matting, advanced dental disease, eye and ear infections, skin diseases and mammary growths—that indicate a lack of regular, preventive veterinary care. This is especially true of adult breeding dogs, who typically are bred at every opportunity regardless of their health.
Why does this happen? Part of the problem is that the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), the enforcement agency for dog breeding requirements outlined in the Animal Welfare Act, recommends that facilities have veterinarians visit a minimum of once a year. An annual veterinary exam may be sufficient for a well-cared-for pet, but for dogs living in crowded, filthy enclosures and enduring frequent pregnancies—which vets consider a state of “accelerated starvation” because it is so physically taxing—annual vet visits are simply not enough.
Take Action! The USDA is accepting comments on its veterinary care policy until Friday, October 11. Please tell the agency to revise its policy to recommend twice-a-year vet exams for animals, especially breeding animals. Submit your comments directly on this government webpage—we’ve provided talking points you may use (below), but your message will be more powerful if you tell the USDA how you feel in your own words.
The USDA’s Policy #3 on veterinary care falls short of common professional standards. The recommendation that veterinary visits occur “at least annually” is not sufficient to protect animals. -Breeding dogs frequently suffer from emaciation, severe matting, advanced dental disease, eye and ear infection, skin diseases, and mammary growths that indicate a lack of regular, preventive care. -Organizations including the Association of Shelter Veterinarians, the American Kennel Club, the American College of Theriogenologists and the Society for Theriogenology recommend semiannual veterinary exams and veterinary exams prior to breeding. -Please revise Policy #3 to recommend a hands-on veterinary exam at least twice annually for all animals, particularly those bred more than once a year.
On behalf of the puppy mill dogs, thank you for your help.
Diabetes is a real problem for cats in this country, but the good news is that we now have a much better understanding of this condition, and even better, we can cure it in many cases. Best of all, we are learning how to prevent it, which is the ideal strategy for a healthy, happy cat.
Cause: It’s now believed that many cases of feline diabetes are caused by excess carbohydrates in the diet. Dry cat foods in particular can be high in carbohydrates. Cats are not designed to properly metabolize carbohydrates, and cats on dry food may become obese. Additionally, the excess of carbs forces the pancreas, the organ that produces insulin, to overwork. Over time, the pancreas can become exhausted, and lose the ability to make sufficient insulin. This lack of insulin causes diabetes.
Treatment: Most diabetic cats have not permanently lost the ability to produce insulin. In order to rest the pancreas and allow it to return to normal function, cats are given twice-daily insulin injections. It’s essential to carefully regulate diabetes so the cat receives the proper amount of insulin to restore the function of the pancreas while avoiding low blood sugar, a potential side effect of insulin treatment.
The second essential component of treatment is the cat’s diet. For the best chance of curing diabetes, most cats should eat a canned diet formulated for diabetes, or a canned kitten food. Be sure to consult with your veterinarian regarding the best diet for your own cat.
A note of caution: Cats who refuse to eat can become very ill. Any diet changes must be made cautiously, with careful monitoring of the appetite.
For optimal treatment of diabetic cats, it may be advisable to consult with a veterinary internal medicine specialist. We have two on staff at the ASPCA Animal Hospital: Dr. Pomrantz and Dr. Frank. To find a veterinary internist in your local area go to www.acvim.org.
Prevention: We all know that “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” For diabetes prevention as well as urinary tract and digestive health, we advise feeding cats canned food in meals, rather than allowing them to graze on dry food. Just remember that when attempting to make any change in a cat’s diet, such as from dry to canned food, patience and caution are essential. Never allow a cat to “hunger strike,” which can cause serious illness.
As the budget stalemate in Washington led to this week’s government shutdown, a lot of animal advocates have been left wondering exactly how this unusual event is impacting our nation’s animals. Yesterday we told you about the shutdown’s effect on puppy mill inspections, but the federal government has many additional routine animal-protection responsibilities. We’ve done a little digging and outlined how the following animal welfare-related duties are being altered during this shutdown:
Horse Soring The USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) is charged with enforcing the Horse Protection Act to combat the abusive practice of horse soring. APHIS oversees the inspection of at-risk show horses to ensure that they have not been sored and assesses penalties for violations. Suspension of this program during the shutdown could mean that unscrupulous trainers will take advantage of this lapse in oversight.
Animal Slaughter The USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) upholds the requirements of the Humane Methods of Slaughter Act related to the treatment of animals prior to and during slaughter. This has been deemed a necessary function, so FSIS inspectors who monitor food safety and humane treatment in slaughterhouses continue to perform their duties during the shutdown.
Wild Horses Federal agencies periodically round up and remove large numbers of free-roaming wild equines on public rangelands, a policy that has resulted in tens of thousands of wild horses languishing in holding facilities. Additional gathers are suspended during the shutdown, but caretakers for the horses already confined remain on the job.
Zoos/Circuses Exotic animal exhibitors are regulated by the Animal Welfare Act (AWA), and unfortunately, the welfare of these animals will go unchecked for the time being. However, the National Zoo in D.C., managed by the Smithsonian Institution, has retained employees essential to the security and the care of the zoo’s animals.
Animals in Laboratories The USDA enforces the AWA to ensure minimum standards of care for animals in laboratories. While employees are on the job maintaining the animals, there is no USDA watchdog ensuring that minimum standards of care are being met.
Hunting and Trapping All National Wildlife Refuges are currently closed to the public, meaning hunting and trapping on these lands is prohibited for the duration of the shutdown. Federal law enforcement activities will continue on public lands to preserve resources and protect against illegal hunting.
Join the ASPCA Advocacy Brigade! By joining the ASPCA Advocacy Brigade, you will receive important alerts from us when we need your help to fight for laws against animal cruelty.
This weekend, legendary environmental writer and activist Wendell Berry leaves his Kentucky farm for an inspiring conversation, and rare TV interview, with veteran journalist Bill Moyers on Moyers & Company. In an excerpt from that conversation below, Berry talks about how humans live at the expense of other creatures, making it our responsibility to treat those animals “with the minimum of violence.”
“It’s always great to see an esteemed figure like Wendell Berry sticking up for farm animals and so eloquently drawing that vital connection between respecting animals, our environment and ourselves,” says ASPCA Farm Animal Welfare Campaign Director Suzanne McMillan.
Spike would be thrilled to go home with an energetic adopter who will spend quality time with him. We feel sure Spike will make an amazing pet!
Spike is available for adoption at the ASPCA Adoption Center. If you are interested in adopting please call our Adoptions department in New York City at (212) 876-7700, ext. 4900. To learn more about Spike, please visit his page.