Tag Archives: animal welfare

I Hope People Like This Are Made to SUFFER

7 Aug

I have to hope their will be some sort of justice, or else the sadness for animals and anger toward cruel, careless, ignorant, and irresponsible people will really eat me alive.


It hurts my heart how terrible some people are.  The downstairs neighbors moved out last week (were evicted for non-payment of rent, actually) and just left their cat and kitten outside in 90+F temps to fend for themselves.

Laurel's pics 614I actually think I became a little desensitized while a veterinary worker, because we saw this kind of thing constantly.  Don’t get me wrong, you still don’t like it, don’t want to see it, and it makes you sad and angry.  But like viewing increasingly violent movies frequently, it begins to affect you just a little less over time.  It has to or you’ll break–anyone with a conscience would.  But you do what you can do, and you have to look at the bigger picture.

A lot of people don’t know any better.  Or they’re selfish, irresponsible, or see animals as an object/property and treat them accordingly.  Some people knowingly do the wrong thing.  Some people are even so ornery as to hold your heart hostage as a way to get discounts–it’s disgusting.  You start to see and hear it all.  And if you let it get to you, it will really make you depressed or angry at all of humanity.  Also, you have to remember–I can’t save them all.  Because believe me, you want to.  But that can spiral into a bad situation too–so you do what you can with what you have to be able to sleep at night.

Also, when working at a vet hospital you feel like your work counteracts a lot of that negative stuff.  There’s a lot that sucks, Alfred in a scarfbut you educated a client, you connected an abandoned pet to a wonderful new owner, you helped alleviate one (probably many) animal’s pain–you feel somewhat empowered by that.  When you’re not involved with a vet hospital, you’re fairly powerless to help.  Now that I’ve been away from it, even briefly (5 months) it really breaks my heart to think about those poor buddies.  I don’t see it and hear it all day long anymore, so the pain feels a lot worse to me right now–and there’s a lot less I can do.  I mean, I’m preoccupied feeling sad for them.

The thing is, I saw and petted the kitties outside almost every day when I came and went to work, but thought they lived around here.  Some people intentionally let their cats outdoors–even in an bengal 2apartment/city situation.  I figured some dumb neighbor was letting the cats out.  I hoped the cats were obnoxiously scratching to go outside and finally the owner relented.  You have to tell yourself things to ease your mind.  So I worried about cars, dogs, and mean people, but thought they seemed like they belonged here so obviously had a home.  Just the same, I wanted to confirm it, so after a week of reminders, Cool finally asked our landlord if she knew their story.  And she said they’d been abandoned.  It made me feel truly awful.  I feel terrible and guilty especially since I had been a little apathetic while meanwhile the cats were cooking in the weather, starving, and lonely.

Tomorrow I’m going to borrow crates from work so they can be transported to the shelter.  Of course I’m worried about their fate:  Will they be euthanized?  Will they get adopted?  Together?  Again, I just have to tell myself that things will work out beautifully.  Because what else can I do?  Other then treat my own 2 buddies with love and take responsible care of them.

As soon as I heard I went right outside with some dry kibble and a can of Fancy Feast.  The older cat was a little more kitty birthdaystandoffish, liked the canned (only within the tiny can), but turned up it’s nose to the diet food–chubby knew that story.  The kitten ate like it was starving, which maybe it was, but it could just eat like a piggy too.  Once it polished off the canned food, it went right to gobbling dry.  It ate so readily that I changed my mind about leaving the Cool Whip contained out for them for fear the kitten would eat the entire contents in the next 2 min, then have the big-D on rescue day.

So here’s to doing something!


Rule #3 of Animal Restraint: Be a Cheerleader

26 Sep

As a restrainer of animals, being anything aside from positive, supportive, calm, and patient is counterproductive.  Everybody involved needs you to be miss Sunshine-super-patient to maximize chance of success, and minimize strife and injury.

Cheer on the animal (and it’s owner) you’re restraining, by telling it reassuring things in a gentle voice.  This should be constant and second-nature.

It’s very important to be supportive to the DO-er when you’re the restrainer.  Say, “Good job,” “You can do this,” etc. . . when things are going better then expected.  When things are worse, let the do-er know it’s hard, the animal is not cooperative, the task is a high level of difficulty, you’ve seen others mess it up more in the past.  No use in making someone feel bad or frustrated with their efforts.  It just makes future tasks more difficult.

Don’t be a bossy holder.  Let the DO-er perform the task in the way the usually do, and the way they are most comfortable doing it.  Let them take the lead on the thing, and direct YOU how they want the animal held and positioned.  There is more then one way to skin a cat. . .

Don’t sigh or show impatience when the task is taking a long time.  Even if you feel annoyed inside.  Buckle down.  Showing annoyance only makes the DO-er more nervous and agitated then they already are.  And they will likely struggle more.

On this same note, if you are the restrainer, don’t insist on switching.  Let the DO-er tell you when they cannot accomplish the task and need you to do it.  DO-ers, DO NOT poke an animal 80 times, or otherwise torture a pet if it is just not happening for you that day.  Know when to stop and ask someone else to jump in.

Trade off.  Do not always jump to take ALL the blood draws, place all catheters, whatever.  Share back and forth.  Otherwise, one of you becomes the bitch-holder and the subservient.  And no one likes that.  Also realize, if you’re new to a place–you are likely going to ending up doing more holding then doing for awhile.  It’s also a good idea to trade off, not only for fairness purposes, but so that both people are good at both restraint and the tasks needing performed.  Vet tech skills are definitely a use it or lose it deal, and no one should become rusty on either side of the animal.  Practice both restraint and the tasks equally to really hone both skills.  Especially, if someone is sick, or quits, or if you need to switch positions for a vet or new staff--you need to be competent everywhere.

That said, if you know you’re not great at something, or you know your co-worker is a star at one particular task, back off and let them do it.  You should practice and take hints from the super-star, but only on nice animals, during slower times, and not to the point of hurting the animal in order to learn.

And that all there is to restraint.  Mind the hierarchy, keep it cool, and remember team-work.  Good luck, animal workers!


The Wild Hog Situation

3 Jun

Have you ever Googled the news using key words “wild hog”?  There is an overabundance of news about damage done by hog varieties.  I’ve included some, but you know how I’m lazy, so I just cut & pasted the info directly from the articles without appropriately citing them.  Everything  in bold (not much) is mine.  Everything else is swiped off the internet.  Here is some example stories from many possibilities.

Here’s the news:

1.  “They’re nothing like Babe or Wilbur in ‘Charlotte’s Web’” notes a Bloomingdale-Riverview Patch report written by editor D’Ann White. “These pigs are the bane of property owners throughout FishHawk Ranch.  Seen throughout Florida and Texas, feral hogs are also called feral pigs, wild boar, wild hogs or razorbacks.  According to the Department of Natural Resources, these hogs are quickly wearing out their welcome, having tremendous negative impacts on native plants, native wildlife, livestock, agriculture and humans.

2.  “It is a problem, and it is a serious problem,” Supervisor Dan Sturm said Tuesday. “I understand they are big, and they are nasty.”  Sturm said residents have called the town with reports of seeing groups of 20 to 25 hogs of all sizes on their properties. . .  Spotted nine hogs walking in single file by a stone wall along Burr Road on Friday. The hogs, which included a 230-pounder at the lead and a piglet coming up the rear of the line, cut across the road

3.  http://www.nwfdailynews.com/articles/pigs-49982–.html  OK, admittedly, I NEVER click on links on blogs, Facebook, e-mail, or anywhere else because I’m too lazy.  But you should click this one because the story provides a lot of good information, but is too long for me to cut & paste on to this post.

Why it’s real bad:

1.  . . .  “Chewing up habitat, displacing native plants and animals, besting other game for food sources, breeding prolifically. Given the right conditions, a sow can produce three litters a year of up to a dozen piglets per litter.

Just this week, the National Wildlife Federation highlighted the importance of the issue, “calling for state and federal measures to remove feral swine, a highly destructive invasive species that is a growing menace to wildlife and wildlife habitat.

Pigs out-compete any animal that likes to eat an acorn. We’re going to tell our hunters, ‘You know, what if I told you they directly out-compete bear, deer, turkey for acorn mast? A group of pigs can come in overnight and ruin your food plots that you spent weeks and hundreds of dollars to establish.’ ”

How it relates to hog farming and farrowing crates:

These articles and the many like them prove how the Old McDonald model of farming is nothing but a fairy-tale.  It would not work this day in age.

According to the Wiki, “It is the wild ancestor of the domestic pig, an animal with which it freely hybridises.”  Domestic pigs can escape and quite readily become feral, and feral populations are problematic in several ways. They cause damage to trees and other vegetation, consume agricultural crops and can carry disease.  They are omnivorous scavengers, eating almost anything they come across, including grassnutsberriescarrion, nests of ground nesting birdsrootstubersrefuse,[12] insects and small reptiles.  Feral pigs often interbreed with wild boar, producing descendants similar in appearance to wild boar; these can then be difficult to distinguish from natural or introduced true wild boar.

Feral hogs can rapidly increase their population. Sows can have up to 10 offspring per litter, and are able to have two litters per year. Each piglet reaches sexual maturity at 6 months of age. They have virtually no natural predators.

As of 2008, the estimated population of 4 million feral pigs caused an estimated US$800 million of property damage a year in the U.S.[54] The problematic nature of feral hogs has caused several states in the U.S. to declare feral hogs to be an invasive species.

Still think it’s a good idea to let hogs roam freely?  Indoor housing and farrowing crates are for the protection of the hogs, the environment, and people!  Click my other two posts on this issue for more info/opinions.

Farrowing Crates

28 Feb

I have yet to see the Chipotle commercial (I don’t have TV), but they bring up a controversial point.  One that I think warrants discussion.  But the discussion needs to be educated and practical.  Knee-jerk emotional reactions (especially from those who have never seen hog production or worked with pigs) are not the way to fix problems.

What are farrowing/gestation crates?  A confined area where hogs are kept during gestation and lactation.  The hogs cannot turn around.  They can only stand, sit, or lie down.

Why do hog producers use farrowing crates?

1. They are used to keep the hog from eating the food of her piglets. Obviously, a lactating hog has different needs from several growing piglets.

2. They are used to keep animal separate. Hogs can be aggressive.

3. The farrowing crates makes maintenance of hogs easier. It is simple to feed, quick to clean, and keeps each hog in her own little area in the facility.  It is also easier to individualize care–if a hog looks thin, the farmer can supplement only her food.  If she looks ill, it will be noticed faster when she is confined to one area.

4. The primary reason for farrowing crates is to protect piglets. Hogs are known to lie on their piglets and squish them to death. If she is confined in a farrowing crate, the piglets can scoot away from their heavy mother, but still nurse when they need to.  The family doesn’t have to be separated as in many other species of production.

Farrowing crates aren’t perfect.  I would argue, no system in animal production is perfect–everything has room for improvement.  We should always search for ways to make animal production more humane for animals, safer for workers, more cost effective for producers, and faster.  Sometimes these goals conflict with each other.

Before you condemn farrowing crates here are factors to consider:

-Hog production is all-in, all-out these days. To go into a pig farm–even a small one, people (visitors, employees, vets) have to shower in and out, change boots and coveralls, etc. . . This is to manage diseases–for the pigs. Even delivery trucks have a certain path to minimize cross-contamination. Some farms even have a truck wash! Letting hogs outside, creates a world of opportunity for sickness. And makes the problem of vaccine/antibiotic withdrawal periods even more pertinent.

-Hogs really damage the environment. They root in the dirt, rub on trees and fences, and have output that could contribute Nitrogen, Ammonia, and Phosphates to nearby (ground) water.

-Hogs and piglets have differing nutritional needs. Keeping the two separate is difficult and also poses ethical and logistical problems. Also, hogs have potential to fight. Even 3 week old piglets will eat each other, give each other scratches and black eyes. How to reduce injury?

-Money and compliance. Will requiring alternatives to gestation crates put the SMALL farmers out of business?  How much would it cost to change an entire operation? Who regulates it? And is this a priority for regulators when there are so many other animal/production issues?

-What will pork cost?  The expense of finding a new system will go to consumers as well.  How high are we willing to pay for meat?  It would be a shame to require hog production to change then, turn to beef or poultry or away from meat all-together because we do not want to may high food prices.


Vet School Interview [Guaranteed Welfare vs. Rights Question]

11 Dec

I love animals and want to see them treated with due respect.  I think as humans we are responsible for all of nature.  We need to properly care for the environment and all creatures in it.  The animal welfare vs animal rights debate rages on and on.  I will tell you how my values and morals translate to supporting welfare.  But first, here are definitions of each term:

Welfare-human responsibility to treat animals humanely in respect to housing, management, transport, prevention and treatment of illness and disease, and euthanasia. It encompasses pretty much every aspect of animal care and use.  Welfare uses scientific evidence to base guidelines, and allows different areas of animal use to self-regulate within these parameters.

Rights-see animals equal to humans and strongly believe animals should not be used by humans in any capacity.  At all.  Not to conduct research, for sport, to eat, or as pets.  True animal rights activists think animals should have the same legal standing as people–not be regarded as property.  They operate as radical non-profit organizations that tug on human emotions to spread misinformation.  Some groups even resort to violence to get their message across and further their political agenda.

I believe in and support animal welfare, because I am not an extremest.  I think welfare is comprehensive enough to be ethical, and believe animals do not have the mental capacity to legally fend for themselves in a world dominated by human beings.  Because of human intervention, most animals would not be able to acquire shelter from the elements (or people or their dangerous contraptions) or hunt for food as they did when their habitats were unblemished by human invention.  As people took over animals natural landscapes, they also garnered the responsibility to care for the animals they displaced.

I also support animal welfare over animal rights, because logistically it makes more sense.  When animals and people are placed on an equal plane, how would be test things or learn medical technique?  I’ll get back to this point in a little more detail in a moment.  But first think of this conundrum that would become reality if animals were granted the rights of people.  Following the natural preditor/prey instict would suddenly become punishable by human law.  Because all animals would have the right to live.  If a coyote is considered equal to a person, would killing a rabbit for food be considered murder?  Would we incarcerate the coyote, who wouldn’t have the intelligence to understand its human crime?  And if so, at how much more expense then we already pay to jail people?  Since most animals hunt a smaller animal then themselves, where would we imprison these numerous offenders?  See how impractical animal rights gets when you analyse what it would mean to society?

I also think welfare is more compassionate than animal rights, because I believe in treating all people (equally) with dignity.  Human rights for everyone is an imperative moral tenant.  Without the use of animals for testing products and conducting research, learning surgical technique, and important food and materials, we would need to utilize computers (which aren’t very technologically advanced yet or as realistic) or use humans.  Having just completed a book about the Nazi doctors and how they used concentration camp victims for experiments, I know we can never return to the bleak prospective that some people are less valuable than animals.  The Germans completely outlawed animal testing of any form, but felt justified in using “inferior” human beings to test vaccines, medicine, surgical procedures, and cold stress, among other things.  Careful use of animals (and of course remembering history) precludes this from happening again.

Yes, we should always aim for higher standards of care and make sure every animal experiment is justified, useful, and humane.  And people should certainly ensure that farm animals, pets, and other animals that are in our care are healthy and never subjected to cruelty.  But putting animals on a pedestal and forbidding humans to utilize them for any purpose is trouble.