I am writing this page now because this past week has created quite a bit of frustration and anger amongst my staff at multiple pet owners. In particular, I am referring to owners that bring pets to the clinic for treatment that have been (in all honesty) abused by neglect for days or weeks or months. The referenced pets are those that are old and arthritic and that do not come to the clinic until they can no longer get up on their own and cannot stand and walk without support. These pets have usually been “down” for two to three days and are soaked in urine and have feces matted all over their rear end. Others in the “negligent abuse” category are long-haired dogs that have not been brushed for a very long time and have skin wounds, dermatitis, infections, and maggots under hair matts. Still others are dogs with varying degrees of allergic dermatitis that are allowed to scratch themselves until they have bald spots, wounds, and infections. We see eye injuries that have been present for more than a week before they are brought to the clinic. Malicious and willfully created injuries such as broken bones do occur; but at a much lesser frequency than the other injuries mentioned above. Obesity is a chronic problem. This much said, please note that our staff has been, and will continue to be polite to the owners involved, they are professional and try to help the patient, and then they vent their frustrations after the client is out of the building. Practically, there is nothing that can be done other than help the patient. Legal action against the negligent client is out of the question for all practical purposes.
The frequently published newspaper and TV articles about water and shelter for pets during the heat and a dry, well bedded area during the winter do not address the most common cases of abuses by neglect. Most of the animals referred to above live in the house with the owners. The owners simply choose not to “see” their pet’s problem early on and do not bring the pet in for diagnosis and treatment until the owner becomes personally frustrated and annoyed with the pet because of such things as continual coughing, foul odor, excessive shedding, bleeding wounds, etc.
The dog and cat pets that we have today were not created by God nor did they evolve (which ever is your belief). Our varying pet breeds have been created by humans over the course of the last 400-600 years by selective breeding. Some individual saw a particular trait that was appealing to him/her and that individual began to selective breed for that trait. Thus, we have very small dogs, giant breeds, very long haired breeds, hairless breeds, bug–eyed breeds and breeds with very tiny eyes – and everything in between. Almost without exception, while people were breeding for certain desirable qualities, some bad qualities became incorporated within the breed, also. I cannot think of a single breed that does not have at least one negative genetic trait – a problem seen within that breed more frequently than the same problem is seen in the total dog population.
It is these bred-in traits are the cause of the problems to which I have been referring above: long hair coats, large eyes, short legs, giant bodies, allergies, hip problems, knee problems, breathing problems, dental problems, and so on. Individuals who acquire pets should investigate the negatives of their chosen breeds and determine that they can and will take care of the negative traits while they are or have been enjoying the positive traits of that breed. For instance, giant breeds do not live as long as the smaller breeds. When the dog has lived his life in comfort and is now in misery, accept that fact and don’t make the dog lie and die in misery (arthritis, hip dysplasia, degenerative joint disease, etc). When the allergy prone dog does actually develop allergies, be prepared to treat the dog – very likely a life long financial and medical effort. When the dog cannot breathe normally because of his short face and the complications created by that short face, do the surgical procedures to allow him to breathe.
Like people, all are pets are going to die. As people live much longer than does a dog, it is likely that any single client will outlive his/her pet. A pet is a financial, ethical, and moral obligation. Pet owners need to live up to their obligation to the pet or do whatever is necessary for the pet or to get the pet to a person who can and will take the responsibility for that pet. A pet that is suffering unnecessarily does not speak well of its owner.
If you are reading this ‘diatribe’ on our website, it is most likely that you are not one of the individuals that needs to be shaken into reality about pet ownership. However, if you have the opportunity to pass this information on to someone to whom it applies, I would appreciate it. I realize that I have been “preaching to the choir”; but, I “feel” a little better even though it is unlikely that I have actually helped any single pet as a result of this “sermon”. I thank you for reading this and considering the information. If you know of someone who is planning to acquire a new pet, please encourage him/her to call knowledgeable individuals (usually not the breeder) to ask questions about the negative traits of the breed that he/she is considering. The new pet deserves at least that much forethought prior to acquisition.