Delegates of the American Veterinary Medical Association voted overwhelmingly last week to adopt a policy encouraging people to avoid feeding their dogs a raw meat diet.
They they went on to attend the AVMA’s four-day convention in San Diego, which featured a performance by Smash Mouth and a party on the USS Midway — all sponsored by, among others, makers of dry dog food.
A lot of people are finding that a little fishy.
An AVMA wrap-up of the meeting says the new policy — which it notes has “certainly been a controversial topic” — was approved last Thursday.
After discussion, the AVMA House of Delegates approved a slightly amended version of the proposed policy on feeding raw or undercooked animal-source protein diets to pets. Instead of using the words “never feed,” the proposed policy was amended to read “avoid feeding.”
(My mind sees no distinction between the two, other than the latter sounding slightly less bossy.)
While the AVMA has said scientific research is behind the decision, comments on the AVMA website criticize not just the soundness of the policy, but whether the sole reason for it relates to the funding the AVMA receives from big dog food companies, like Hills and Purina.
Said one commenter: “Please know that I will be having a discussion with my vet about membership in the AVMA, which is voluntary. I will make sure she knows that I have NO respect for an organization that bases it’s recommendations not on sound science (there have been NO studies on raw vs kibble diets from a canine health perspective), but on the all mighty dollar. So I’ll take my dollars to a vet that believes as I do, that the AVMA is not an organization to support.”
Another called the policy “nothing more than a Hail-Mary pass for a PFI desperate to hold onto their profits and using every bit of leverage they can to do so (how pathetic the AVMA allowed themselves to be so used). It will, I believe, make spreading the word about raw feeding more difficult in the short term… but the truth will prevail in the end.”
Another commenter, who likes capitalizing for emphasis, wrote: “Why don’t you just LOOK at who the ‘sponsors’ of the AVMA Convention are? On the FRONT PAGE of your ‘newsletter’ brief on the convention is a 1/8 PAGE ad from – who else? PURINA! You are all NOTHING more than PAID OFF CRIMINALS! I hope the Illinois State Attorney General and the IRS see fit to become involved. You are NOT a Non-Profit Organization, you are a SHILL for Big pet Food manufacturers (Purina and Hills in particular) … The AVMA has ZERO credibility and I will NOT patronize any vet who is a member. If that means I have to travel, then so be it.”
The final outcome of the vote was 90.9% in favor of the amended resolution, the AVMA said.
According to the AVMA website, all delegates in attendance were requested to disclose any potential conflicts of interest, such as connections to dog food companies, before the vote. The AVMA says that is standard procedure in such matters.
“Please keep in mind that this policy is NOT a ban on raw foods for pets,” the website notes, “and it is not a regulation that requires veterinarians (regardless of whether they’re AVMA members or not) to comply, or even agree with it.
“It’s not a debate on the healthiness of or risks associated with raw foods versus other commercial pet foods. Nor is it an attempt to force a ban or restrict pet owners’ rights to feed their pets how and what they want.”
What is it then, one might ask. To point to the risks of one type of dog food and ignore the dangers of another (like the risks of bloating and the nutritional lack of many a dry dog food) might be a good strategy for fundraising, but it’s not good policy when it comes to consumers and dogs.
Posted by jwoestendiek August 10th, 2012 under Muttsblog, videos.
Tags: american veterinary medical association, animals, association, avma, conflict of interest, consumers, convention, dog food, dogs, feeding, fund raising, house of delegates, influence, meat, non-profit, nonprofit, pets, pfi, policy, public-private, raw, raw diet, san diego, smash mouth, sponsors, undercooked, uss midway, veterinarians, veterinary
The American Veterinary Medical Association next month could give final approval to a policy that discourages feeding pets “raw or undercooked animal-source protein diets” — on the grounds that they are unsafe for dogs, cats and humans.
Some people see the measure as a proactive and well-reasoned stance, aimed at making our dogs and ourselves safer.
Some see it as meddling.
And some see it as a conspiracy.
I, not being a dog food expert, fall into the middle ground — those vast numbers of folks who are highly confused by our dog-feeding options, puzzled over what truly is best for our dogs, befuddled by how so-called experts can be telling us exact opposite things, scared by anything from China, fretting over what we can afford, and, all the while, wondering how something like dog food has managed to become the volatile topic it has.
Emotions about dog food, given all the scares and recalls of the past decade, sometimes seem to run nearly as high as those in the abortion debate, and proponents of one kind of food or another are just about as firmly entrenched in their beliefs.
My dog Ace thrived on a raw diet the two years he was on it. His coat was shinier, his health was good, his stools were less massive, leading a layman like myself to belief that, as its proponents claim, it was a more natural choice for his species, and one he seemed to absorb something from, unlike kibble, which just seemed to go in one end and out the other.
(We switched back to kibble and canned when we entered a refrigerator-less phase of life, and haven’t gone back on raw for budget reasons.)
Even without Ace as a customer, the raw diet has continued to grow in popularity — probably at least in part because of all the issues surrounding other forms of dog food, which, we’d point out, the AVMA hasn’t felt a need to take a stand on.
Next month, at its meeting in San Diego, the AVMA House of Delegates will be voting on a policy discouraging feeding pets a raw diet, based on scientific studies that have shown raw meat, unless it has been subjected to a process that eliminates pathogens, can be contaminated with Salmonella, Campylobacter, Clostridium, Escherichia coli, Listeria monocytogenes, Staphylococcus aureus.
These infections can sicken pets and pet owners alike, and even be life-threatening, the AVMA says.
All that is true enough. Then again, it’s also true of the hamburger meat you bring home from the grocery store. Read more »
Posted by jwoestendiek July 23rd, 2012 under Muttsblog.
Tags: american veterinary medical association, animals, avma, bacteria, barf, brenda bax, conspiracy, delta society, director, dog, dog food, dogs, feeding, house of delegates, industry, marketing, meat, meeting, pet food, pets, policy, proposal, purina, raw, raw diet, raw meat, salmonella, san diego, susan thixton, the truth about pet food, theory
An eccentric Czech scientist says a single-celled parasite that can be passed on through contact with cat feces can lead people to behave in strange and destructive ways.
And Jaroslav Flegr has more than studies to back up his theory. He has the parasite — Toxoplasma gondii (or Toxo for short).
Flegr and his work are profiled in a fascinating (and scary) article this month in The Atlantic, which describes the 63-year-old evolutionary biologist as a “sloppy dresser … with the contemplative air of someone habitually lost in thought” and “frizzy red hair that encircles his head like a ring of fire.”
Flegr, the article says, has pursued his theory for decades in relative obscurity — partly because he’s not much of a conversationalist and rarely goes to scientific conferences, partly, he says, because people just don’t want to hear it.
“There is strong psychological resistance to the possibility that human behavior can be influenced by some stupid parasite,” he says. “Nobody likes to feel like a puppet.”
His theory is gaining credence, though, The Atlantic reports.
That parasites can be passed on through cat feces is nothing new, as the article notes:
Since the 1920s, doctors have recognized that a woman who becomes infected during pregnancy can transmit the disease to the fetus, in some cases resulting in severe brain damage or death … (It’s) the reason pregnant women are told to avoid cats’ litter boxes. T. gondii is also a major threat to people with weakened immunity: in the early days of the AIDS epidemic, before good antiretroviral drugs were developed, it was to blame for the dementia that afflicted many patients at the disease’s end stage. Healthy children and adults, however, usually experience nothing worse than brief flu-like symptoms before quickly fighting off the protozoan, which thereafter lies dormant inside brain cells—or at least that’s the standard medical wisdom.
Flegr thinks that, even in its latent stage, the parasite may be messing with the connections between our neurons, affecting our response to frightening situations, our outgoingness, our trust of others and our preference for certain scents.
He thinks the organism is a factor in car crashes, suicides, and mental disorders such as schizophrenia. All tolled, he says, it might be, in an indirect kind of way, killing a million people a year.
Flegr had long wondered about his own behavior. Sometimes, he didn’t move out of the way of oncoming traffic, and exhibited other behaviors that might be described as self-destructive. He began to suspect that a single-celled parasite in the protozoan family was manipulating his personality.
In 1990, he joined the biology faculty of Charles University, which was a leader in documenting the health effects of T. gondii and in developing methods for detecting the parasite.
Colleagues searching for infected individuals on whom to test their improved diagnostic kits asked him to volunteer, and that’s when he confirmed he had the parasite.
Posted by jwoestendiek February 23rd, 2012 under Muttsblog.
Tags: animals, behavior, biologist, cat, cat litter, cats, charles university, feces, health, jaroslav flegr, Kathleen McAuliffe, litter, meat, parasite, parasites, personality, pets, poop, pregnancy, schizophrenia, science, scientist, self destructive, studies, the atlantic, toxo, toxoplasma gondii, undercooked, unwashed vegetables, waste
Just a week after widely circulated reports of nails being found in cheese at a dog park — reports that mostly neglected to point out the incident happened months ago in South America — nails in meat have been found at a Lancaster, Pennsylvania, dog park
Lancaster police said two “large chunks of meat” were discovered Monday morning at Buchanan Park dog park, each loosely embedded with several framing nails.
Police said the meat was found just inside the fence by a young girl and her father who brought their dog to the park.
The nails were “loosely attached” to the underside of the meat, according to the Lancaster New Era
“The dog wasn’t hurt,” an officer said. “It didn’t even touch the stuff.”
The investigation is continuing. Police asked that anyone with information call 717-735-3300.
Posted by jwoestendiek October 19th, 2011 under Muttsblog.
Tags: animal cruelty, animal welfare, animals, cheese, cruelty to animals, dog park, dog parks, dogs, health, investigation, lancaster, meat, nails, nails in cheese, nails in meat, parks, pennsylvania, pets, police, safety
I eat meat.
According to an article in the upcoming issue of ESPN magazine, by senior writer David Fleming, that makes me a hypocrite.
Or so he seems to be saying as he ponders why so many people continue to criticize the quarterback, as opposed to getting on the Michael Vick bandwagon to root root root for the dog killer and his amazing on-field comeback.
Fleming attempts to get to the root of the lingering resentment against Vick by examining psychological and sociological factors that he says have resulted in an “uniquely American ethos — one that has transformed dogs into our version of Hindu’s sacred cows and one that exposes a deep-seated hypocrisy regarding animal cruelty.”
Certainly, the status of dogs has risen in the past 50 years. Maybe, as he suggests, suburbanization, the rise of technology and human loneliness had something to do with it. But it’s not a strictly American phenomenon, and it has nothing to do with religion.
What it does have to do with — and Fleming totally neglects this — is that dogs have earned their place. There is a heirarchy in the animal kingdom, and dogs have, by virtue of their record of accomplishment, risen to the top of it. Research has shown, despite what Fleming says, the many ways dogs benefit us, that their cognitive skills go beyond anything we ever expected, and their service to humanity far exceeds that of any other species.
But, to hear Fleming tell it, it’s as if dogs, with no underlying reason, suddenly and unexplicably became the most loved of animals:
“Never mind that there are no definitive studies for or against the idea that having pets makes for happier people or that many anthrozoologists question whether dogs are capable of feeling or sharing what we cherish the most about them — unconditional love. Our pooches do make us feel loved, and that easily trumps fact or reason.”
But dogs, in case he hasn’t noticed, do far more than make us feel loved. They have, to put it bluntly, risen above the herd.
Maybe it’s politically incorrect, or worse, to say that dogs occupy a level above the rest of the animal kingdom. But, in truth, how many seeing-eye chickens do you see out there? How many search and rescue turtles do you know, or seizure-detecting turkeys, or bomb-sniffing pigs?
As George Orwell wrote in Animal Farm: “All animals are equal, but some are more equal than others.”
Some animal rights purists don’t see it that way, and maintain the value of all animals is the same. In the article, Peter Singer — seen by some as the founder of the modern day animal rights movement — backs up what seems to be the author’s point: People who live in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones, and if you eat McNuggets or Big Macs, or any meat, you’re a glass house dweller.
In the reasoning of Fleming and the experts he quotes: (A) If you eat meat you have no right to criticize Michael Vick for killing dogs; (B) People who care about the welfare of dogs have no compassion for the welfare of people; and (C) Dog lovers should be helping the needy humans of the world.
Fleming’s article, like the book it quotes from — Hal Herzog’s “Some We Love, Some We Hate, Some We Eat: Why It’s so Hard to Think Straight About Animals” — sees society as having put dogs on a pedestal, and sees that as a symptom of our moral ambiguity when it comes to animals.
It’s all a bit reminiscent of the alarm sounded in “Petishism, Pet Cults of the Western World,” the 1968 book by Kathleen Szasz that looked at our preoccupation with dogs as something close to a psychiatric disorder.
True, we humans do some outlandishly wacky things in the name of love for our dogs, but to view the status dogs have achieved — sometimes with our help, sometimes despite it — as something fraudulent, unearned, or not to be believed is both superficial and uninformed.
There seems to be a rising tide of those who, like Szasz four decades ago, fret about the standing and privileges dogs have been afforded in western culture. Why, it’s almost as if — they say, as if it boggles their minds — we’re treating them as children.
Well, think about it. We created them. We domesticated them. We insisted they no longer be wild. We usurped them of their survival skills. We bred them into shapes we liked. We made them do chores, and put them in our handbags, and entered them in contests. We made them what they are (dependent on us), and elevated them to where they are (in our beds, on our sofas and atop the animal heap).
Given that, in my view, we have an obligation to rear them properly, much like children — and not to drown them, bludgeon them, electrocute them, shoot them, dispose of them in Dumpsters when they become inconvenient, or make them fight each other until death.
If that belief is is outlandish, call me an outlandish, politically incorrect, meat-eating hypocrite.
“People should look at what they’re eating and what they’re spending their dollars on and what kind of animal abuse they themselves are supporting,” says Singer. “And if they haven’t taken a good look at that, I don’t think they have much right to criticize Vick.”
I hate to argue with a hero, but they have every right. You don’t have to be a saint to point out a sin. Sometimes, if something enrages you to the extent you must speak out — no matter how long ago it happened, or what kind of house you live in — you’re going to hurl a stone or two.
You don’t have to be Mother Teresa to be entitled to do so.
If there are any sacred cows in this whole big picture, in my opinion, they would be the professional athletes, particularly the ones who consider themselves above the law. They, with help and repeated stroking from outfits like ESPN — Vick not only appears on the cover of the magazine, but the entire issue is devoted to him — are turned into mythical heroes, bestowed with untouchable status, and glorified out of all proportion, all for playing silly games for exorbitant salaries.
I have absolutely no problem idolizing dogs more than them.
Posted by jwoestendiek August 26th, 2011 under Muttsblog.
Tags: animal rights, animal welfare, animals, article, breeds, david fleming, dogfighting, dogs, domestication, espn, evolution, george orwell, hal herzog, heirarchy, hypocrisy, idolatry, image, kathleen szasz, lingering, magazine, meat, michael vick, news, nfl, peter singer, petishism, pets, place, resentment, sacred cows, society, sports, status
But that’s what’s ahead in the UK, where the Food Standards Agency has approved the sale of food from the offspring of cloned animals, including meat and milk.
The policy brings the UK more in line with the U.S., where we’ve also gone from wondering where’s the beef to what’s the beef.
The agency’s decision is in line with government policy in the UK, which supports clone farming and clone food without labels, even though research shows eight in ten shoppers oppose the cloning of farm livestock, the Daily Mail reported.
A little more than a decade into the 21st Century, the day has come when you can have a clone not just in your doghouse, but in your evening meal as well.
Both have come to pass — and operate virtually unregulated in the case of the former – despite polls showing the majority of the public is opposed to cloning, be it for purposes of creating pets or farm animals.
As related in “DOG, INC.: The Uncanny Inside Story of Cloning Man’s Best Friend,” pet cloning became a reality alongside the cloning of livestock — in fact, the first successful clonings of several species of farm animals came about in the pursuit to clone a dog.
After Snuppy, the first dog clone, was created in South Korea, dog cloning became a business, producing for customers copies of everything from Tibetan mastiffs to Labrador retrievers, from Pekingese to pit bulls, and loads of beagles destined for lives as laboratory dogs.
In the UK, defenders of the practice of cloning livestock argue that the offspring of clones are the same as farm animals produced through conventional breeding. They claim existing animal cruelty laws are sufficient to deal with any problems or concerns that arise. Both arguments have been made by pet cloning companies as well.
Accidentally oversized animals, while a concern to pet cloners, are not so much an issue on the agricultural side, where creating supersized animals is a goal, and would further boost profits.
The Daily Mail says supporters of the sale of food from clone offspring include Dairy UK, which represents the country’s biggest milk and cheese producers, the Food and Drink Federation, which speaks for manufacturers, and the British Meat Processors Association.
But, as in the U.S., some outlets — Tesco, Asda, Sainsbury’s, Morrisons, the Co-op, Marks & Spencer and Waitrose among them — have responded to customer concerns by pledging not to use meat or milk from clone offspring in their products.
The FSA, which had argued that meat and milk from the offspring of clones would have to be studied to ensure it was safe, now concludes that there is “currently no evidence” that food from cloned farm animals and their descendants poses a safety risk.
At least 100 clone offspring cattle are being reared on farms in the UK.
As for concerns about ethics and cruelty to animals, the FSA said that’s not its department. Instead, that falls under the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, which has ruled in favor of cloning.
Richard Lloyd, executive director of consumer group Which?, described the FSA decision as “a disappointment for the eight in ten people who don’t want to eat cloned food.”
“It’s vital that the FSA and the Government respect people’s desire to know what they’re eating and control the use of cloning technology in food. As well as an approval process, we want to see a tracking system and clear labelling of these goods on the supermarket shelf.’
Emma Hockridge, head of policy at the Soil Association, which supports organic farming, animal welfare and consumer choice, also has a beef with cloning: “Not only are there insufficient long-term studies into the impacts on human health, cloning is cruel and damaging to animal welfare at all stages of the process,” she said.
In the U.S., the Food and Drug Administration has declared meat and milk from cloned animals safe to eat, admitted that it is probably already in our food supply and has taken no steps to require it to be labeled as such.
In other words, it’s entirely possible that– no matter what your stand is on the issue — you’ve dined on clone.
I’m not sure who knows best, the governments or the people. But sometimes I wonder if our beefed-up brave new world should be a little more chicken.
Posted by jwoestendiek June 3rd, 2011 under Muttsblog.
Tags: agriculture, animal welfare, brave new world, britain, chicken, clone, cloned, clones, cloning, dog inc., dogs, farm animals, farming, fda, food, food and drug administration, food standards agency, fsa, government, health, labels, livestock, meat, milk, pets, policy, science, uk
More than 500 dogs being trucked to a slaughterhouse in China were freed from that fate when an animal activist spotted the truck transporting them on the highway, went on line and used social media to arrange an impromptu blockade.
Around 200 people helped block the truck at a toll booth for 15 hours — until they were able to negotiate the dogs’ release for $17,000, saving the dogs from being slaughtered and served as food.
While farm-raised dogs are traditionally eaten in China and some other Asian countries, the man who arranged the spontaneous road block over the Twitter-like social media site Sina Weibo, in addition to being an animal activist, reportedly suspected they were stolen.
After spotting a truck packed with hundreds of whimpering dogs on a Beijing highway, he put out a call begging fellow animal lovers to come and help him force the driver to release the animals.
Many of the animals were dehydrated, injured and suffering from a virus; at least 68 have been hospitalized, and one has died, the Associated Press reports. Video footage taken Tuesday showed the animals barking and whining in cramped metal crates.
“They were squeezing and pressing on each other and some were biting and fighting, and I saw some were injured or sick,” said Li Wei, manager of Capital Animal Welfare Association and one of the people who participated in the rescue. Li said at least one dog had died in the truck.
The rescue was remarkable on several levels. It was a rare successful case of social activism in China, a sign that new sensibilities are rising when it comes to dogs, and that the traditional practice of eating them is, for many, intolerable.
China has no animal protection laws for dogs or livestock, but animal welfare movements are growing there and in much of Asia.
The activists reached an agreement with the driver to purchase the dogs for about $17,000 dollars — most of which was contributed by a pet company and an animal protection foundation, Li said.
AP reports that dozens of volunteers have flocked to the Dongxing Animal Hospital in Beijing where they are helping to clean cages and mop floors. Sixty-eight dogs were at the hospital, many of them bandaged and hooked up to intravenous drips. Most were severely dehydrated and some had parvovirus.
The rest of the dogs have been taken to a property on the northern outskirts of Beijing where Li’s group is caring for them.
“When I saw the poor dogs on Twitter, I cried and cried, but I thought there was no way they could stop the truck. So I was very surprised when they did it and I wanted to help,” said Chen Yang, 30, a woman who tended to a dog that had given birth to four puppies just after the rescue.
The volunteer response indicates a growing awareness for animal rights, said Lu Yunfeng, a sociology professor at Peking University.
“Dogs were historically on the food list in China and South Korea, while they were loved in Western countries,” Lu said.
But in China, “as people became well-off, they had money to raise dogs, and while raising these dogs, they developed feelings for dogs,” he said.
Posted by jwoestendiek April 19th, 2011 under Muttsblog.
Tags: activism, animal rights, animal welfare, asia, attitudes, beijing, block, blockade, cages, changing, china, cramped, dog, dog meat, dogs, eat, eating, freed, meat, movement, purchased, released, rescued, road block, saved, shipped, sina weibo, slaughterhouse, social media, truck, trucked, video
To that end, it is sending women clad in lettuce bikinis to the city to hand out veggie hot dogs.
Makes perfect sense.
Baltimore was recently ranked the eighth fattest city in the country, so PETA’s “Lettuce Ladies” are hitting the road to show Baltimore (and other fat cities, as well) how healthy, compassionate, and delicious it is to be vegan.
The free veggie dogs will be handed out at noon this coming Friday at City Hall, 100 Holliday St.
PETA says meat consumption has been directly linked to obesity, and that adult vegans are, on average, 10 to 20 pounds lighter than adult meat-eaters. On top of that, PETA says, foregoing meat also helps fight heart disease, diabetes, arthritis, and certain types of cancer.
Posted by jwoestendiek October 4th, 2010 under Muttsblog.
Tags: baltimore, bikinis, cities, city, city hall, consumption, diet, fat, fattest, freebies, handout, health, lettuce ladies, meat, people for the ethical treatment of animals, peta, samples, vegan, vegetarian, veggie dogs, veggie hot dogs, weight
Investigators in Virginia are looking for the person who threw poison-spiked meatballs into the yards of at least three homes in Fairfax County, killing two dogs and making a third ill.
One of the fatalities in the Centreville neighborhood was a five-month-old pit bull puppy; the other, an adult West Highland terrier. The third was taken to a vet for treatment, NBC in Washington reported.
The meat was found around homes in the 15000 block of Olddale Road.
Fairfax County police haven’t figured out what was in the meat, but they are warning all residents, especially those with children and small pets, to inspect their yards for anything suspicious.
Posted by jwoestendiek May 28th, 2010 under Muttsblog.
Tags: animals, centreville, dogs, health, killed, meat, meatballs, neighborhood, news, ohmidog!, pets, pit bull, poisoned, police, puppy, tainted, toxic, west highland terrier
Another book has come out that makes the case for eating our dogs.
On the heels of “Time to Eat the Dog,” by New Zealand professors Brenda and Robert Vale, who admit their title is mostly a shock tactic and who don’t actually propose consuming our pets, comes Jonathan Safran Foer with “Eating Animals,” who says eating our dogs would be no more barbaric than our consumption of pigs, cattle, chickens, etc.
For Foer, interviewed on NPR’s All Things Considered yesterday, the idea of consuming dogs makes even more sense, on some levels, than eating animals raised to be food.
“For the ecologically-minded,” he writes, “it’s time to admit that dog is realistic food for realistic environmentalists.” That last part sounds almost like an advertising slogan, doesn’t it?
Foer’s book was also excerpted in the Wall Street Journal last week, so it’s probably OK if we cut off and chew on a little piece of it here:
Posted by jwoestendiek November 2nd, 2009 under Muttsblog.
Tags: books, books on dogs, brenda vale, cattle, chicken, consumption, dog, dogs, eating animals, eating dogs, environmental. ecology, factory, farming, foer, humans, jonathan safran foer, livestock, meat, pigs, robert vale, time to eat the dog, vegetarian, vegetarianism