DEAR READERS: With many communities now experiencing the brunt of extreme climatic events, from forest fires to floods and killer temperatures, we must all be prepared to care for our animal companions. The American Veterinary Medical Association has stepped into the breach with some excellent informative resources.
"We should always be prepared to take care of our animals, especially during disasters such as fire, flood or other emergencies," reads the AVMA website. One of the best ways pet owners can be prepared is by having a pet evacuation kit assembled and ready to go. Store it in an easy-to-carry waterproof container near an exit.
What should be included in your kit? Visit the AVMA website to learn more: avma.org/resources-tools/pet-owners/emergency-care/pets-and-disasters.
DEAR DR. FOX: In response to your column on wild horses, I just wanted to recommend that you look into Skydog Ranch and Sanctuary. I've been following them on Instagram, and they are truly amazing. Claire is a British woman who started the sanctuary and dedicated herself to reuniting wild mustang families. She has also rescued other animals from "canned hunt" organizations.
You know I respect and admire you for speaking out as you do, but I've been doing cat TNVRs (trap-neuter-vaccinate-release) weekly these last couple of months. I see the horror of life on the street -- believe me, I do. But I just can't trap cats and kittens only to deliver them to their executions. That's monstrous! I have no problem considering euthanasia for injured and sick feral cats, however. -- G.B., West Palm Beach, Florida
DEAR G.B.: Thanks for telling me about Skydog Ranch and Sanctuary. There are a few good people taking in mustangs and various abandoned equines, and without public support, few can continue.
Many people do care, sending donations to worthy causes rather than taking a luxurious (and polluting) cruise or far-flung vacation. It is high time for us all, collectively, to begin to give back to the animals and nature for all that we have taken and destroyed over the centuries. The climate crisis is one consequence, along with the next inevitable pandemic.
I appreciate your concerns about homeless cats, but in my professional opinion, feral cats should not be released once trapped. Rather, they should live in enclosed colonies, which will protect the cats as well as the wildlife they would otherwise kill. They must also be given veterinary care as needed, especially revaccination against the rabies virus.
Several scientific studies underscore these concerns. An excerpt from one such study states that TNVR programs' "ability to adequately address disease threats and population growth within managed cat colonies is dubious," and calls rabies transmission via feral cats "a particular concern."
The study continues, "TNVR has not been shown to reliably reduce feral cat colony populations because of low implementation rates, inconsistent maintenance, and immigration of unsterilized cats into colonies. For these reasons, TNVR (programs) are not effective methods for reducing public health concerns, or for controlling feral cat populations. Instead, responsible pet ownership, universal rabies vaccination of pets and removal of strays remain integral components to control rabies and other diseases." (Full story: "Zoonotic disease transmission associated with feral cats in a metropolitan area: A geospatial analysis," published in Zoonoses Public Health, 2018)
Do visit this website for full documentation supporting my advocacy to end TNVR and give proper care for all cats: humanecontrol.com.
STUDY REVEALS BLEAK PICTURE OF BIODIVERSITY
Populations of 48% of the world's nonhuman species are declining, and fewer than 3% are increasing, according to a study in Biological Reviews. Extinction is occurring 100 to 1,000 times faster than in the pre-industrial age, according to the U.K.'s Natural History Museum, and 33% of species considered stable by the International Union for Conservation of Nature are experiencing population declines. (Full story: "More losers than winners: Investigating Anthropocene defaunation through the diversity of population trends," Biological Reviews, May 15)
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