Friends have been asking me pet welfare questions online. They ask darkly hilarious questions knowing the answer is “no.” They know me well enough to make me laugh and stop way before they make me cry.
Q: Can I dip my dog in bleach to treat his fleas?
In July of 2010, the University of Nebraska at Lincoln Extension Office released a seven page paper, in print and online:
Aaron M. Hildreth, Stephen M. Vantassel and Scott E. Hygnstrom
I wish the authors had thought to play the very fun Ask the Vet a Welfare Question Game with me, or any veterinarian for that matter. I also wish they were trying to be darkly hilarious. Sadly, they were not.
I have e-mails sent to the three authors of the publication.
Subject: WITW (That’s how I say THAT) were you thinking?!?
I am hoping they would still like to play “Ask the Vet a Welfare Question” with me. After they play, research more recent literature, consult the AVMA (American Veterinary Medical Association), the AAHA (American Animal Hospital Association), the AAFP (American Association of Feline Practitioners), perhaps even their “neighbors” the Nebraska Humane Society, which is doing a stellar job carrying out a successful Trap-Neuter-Return (TNR) program in Omaha and surrounding areas, they could write a new Opposite Report. I would even be willing to help them write it.
Here are some “Ask The Vet a Welfare Question” questions that I think would be fun. I also included my answers, because they are not always as obvious to everyone as I had thought!
Q: As members of a respected university, one that invests heavily in training the veterinarians of the future, should we suggest shooting cats in the head as a potential tool in an integrated pest management program?
Q: Shooting cats in the heart?
Q: The lungs?
Q: Padded jaw foothold traps? Snares? Body-gripping traps?
A. No. No. No.
Q: Should we have consulted the 2007 AVMA Guidelines on Euthanasia before publishing this paper?
Q: Should we have glanced at Nebraska euthanasia laws?
A: Yes. Yes. Yes.
Q: Should we have consulted one of the many, many veterinarians, veterinary team members and others with an interest in animal welfare, whose hackles are now up (figuratively speaking) before we made them angry?
Q: Should one of us have walked down the hallway and consulted one of the many fine veterinary professors on East Campus before publishing our report?
Q: Should we have listened to the leadership of Husker Cats, the feline welfare group that cares for feral cats on the UNL campus when they explained their TNR/feline health program directly to us?
Q: What if I was too busy to do all that research, would it have been ok to just ask my veterinarian while I was in with my huntin’ dog what he thought about feral cat control?
Q: Can we have a do-over?
A: I don’t know. Maybe.
I hesitated to publish this in the hopes that the UNL extension publication would just pass quietly into the abyss. It seems as though it will not though, and even if it were about to, I really could not let it just pass without saying something.
To the authors’ credit, they have brought up and given us another opportunity to discuss a very important topic: feral cat control. Let me know what you think. If you promise to be nicer to them than they suggest we be to the cats, I will also help you contact the authors.