Agree to disagree

The other day I posted on my Facebook page that I was thrilled that the AVMA responded to an email inquiry about my possibly doing an externship there in summer 2011. It doesn’t have summer programs for law students, just vet students in DC doing governmental relations work.

My friend just graduated from law school here, and took her dream job in DC with an animal rights group which I respect, but do not support. My friend posted to my FB page about possible working for an organization that supports gassing animals. I wrote her a letter:

“Without studying the entire issue and reading available literature done with careful study, one can raise the issue not with a knowledgeable approach, but rather an inflammatory approach designed to take the audience to one side of the issue. I do not condone all the methods AVMA does, even if it conditionally approves them. But we have to study the entire issue, make changes where we can so the animals that must die are put down  humanely. I wouldn’t even think of giving a lethal injection of pentobarbitol to a cat unless it is placed under anesthesia first. I made this decision 22 years ago. When Tipper was PTS from her cancer, ten days before Earl died, she was placed under general anesthesia first. My friend had a difficult time of doing the best method, and Tip didn’t die right instantly, but she was asleep.
Whoever wrote what you put on my FB page, did so for inflammatory purposes without understanding of the report if, indeed, she even carefully read it. This is why the ‘humaniacs’ drive me nuts. Gas chambers WERE used, but that was in the 60s. They weren’t even gas chambers, but decompression chambers that literally sucked the life out of unwanted pets. My mother surrendered our cats to Orphans of the Storm in 1964 due to my sister’s asthma. I had nightmares of Charlie Brown being put into a box to die. Things have come a long way since then. Animal humane treatment is advancing, not retreating.
One needs to go after those who make profits off of fur animals, such as mink farmers, who do electrocute or ‘gas’ the creatures solely for their fur. Their meat is fed to other carnivores which, in turn, are fed back to the mink. People do wear fur. I can’t bear to look at a fur coat.
Think about the Koreans who sell dogs at market as livestock under nasty conditions. They are electrocuted or beaten to death, then butchered. Bottom line, while disgusting to us, it is their culture. Some things we just cannot change. That in America, we can. Greenpeace can take over the poaching of the seas for illegal tuna netting; finning of sharks and putting them back in the water to drown so Japanese can make soup; and drowning dolphins that are caught in the tuna nets. I support that-they are illegal activities. We change the things we can, and try to change that which we can’t.
Other social issues arise, such as the local custom of illegally clubbing of baby harp seals. While gross and disgusting, it is how native peoples survive. There is no way I can say anything to rationalize the brutalization of innocent babies. The Inuits who are allowed to hunt whales. That’s all the meat they eat and sell (oil.) I don’t like it at all, but I’m not living where the sun doesn’t shine. American Indians are the only group allowed to possess eagle feathers, which are used ceremonially. Anyone else would be arrested for possession.
The AVMA puts out an annual euthanasia report. Take T-61 euthanasia solution. It is by far the worst thing I’ve seen. It isn’t even on the market any more in the US. to my knowledge. However, when a horse is under anesthesia, say in surgery, as happened in 1988 when T-61 was still used and I was the anesthesiologist on duty at CSU, it was a humane thing, as the horse was unconscious. When my little mare, Franny, was euthanized at CSU, she wasn’t anesthetized first. The student cranked her head so she would be still while I put the pentobarbitol in her. I didn’t like that picture. When our dear Marcie had cancer of the tongue at thirty, and we took her to CSU 9 years later after Franny’s death, Marcie was anesthetized in a padded induction stall, the same stall Franny was in, then I gave her the solution. It was quiet and peaceful. She was already down when she died, whereas Franny collapsed to the ground in the throes of death. It is disturbing to watch any horse going down, even for minor surgery.
Were I to be fortunate enough go to AVMA as a legal policy specialist, that would not preclude me from advocating humane treatment of animals that do have to be PTS. It is a mission of the organization to better the treatment of animals. We all took an oath at graduation to treat animals humanely even upon their deaths. My feeling is as yours, neuter animals, adopt them out, and design humane ways to go to slaughter for food supply animals, as Dr. Temple Grandin of CSU had done. You never did tell me why you didn’t like her talk. Her entire life has been devoted to animal welfare, even of those animals on their way to slaughter.
Bottom line, there are local customs, millions of unwanted animals, puppy mills that foster bad breeding and keep pet animals in abhorrent conditions, and much much more.
What disturbed me when I was on necropsy rotation in school was the pathologist bringing a calf into necropsy, attaching electrodes to lip and anus, and just plugging the wire into a wall socket like a lamp. Horrible to watch, yes. Instantaneous death, yes.
We can talk about this if you like. I would ask you to email me instead of posting on my Facebook, OK? Just because I’m interested in a position, doesn’t mean that I would be making the lives of animals worse.
Last weekend was the fall meeting and dinner of Morris Animal Foundation in Dallas with Betty White there. I couldn’t go, slammed with work. Research that organization. No animal is ever euthanized unless it is for the sake of pathological samples. There even is a program for adoption. ALL animals used in studies that are not euthanized for study purposes, a small % of subjects, are adopted. Feel free to email the president and CEO, my friend and former professor, Dr. Patty Olson, polson@morrisanimalfoundation.org. Tell her we are friends and what you do for a living. She would talk to you. She also travels a lot, and even spent a year in DC as an AVMA Congressional Fellow.
When in doubt, call the AVMA and ask for a meeting. They don’t try to cover their tracks, they merely collate information and make recommendations. They themselves don’t condone bad things that are done, they try to make it better. If they can-great. If they can’t, at least they have tried by careful studies and reports. PETA, while their heart is in the right place with regard to animal welfare, is an extreme organization that has done some pretty detrimental things to animals themselves. You are now in a position to make things better within the scope of your new legal position.
We can agree to disagree on some issues, but let’s do it on the phone, or by emails. Not on Facebook.
Take care, my friend.
I will note that my wonderful, passionate friend, when hearing of Earl’s death, emailed me “whatever you need just say it, and I will jump on a plane.” She was doing her 2L externship in Houston, and we hadn’t met yet. That’s friendship. A good friend goes through good times and bad times with you. While our friendship is relatively new, I cherish it. We share the same passion for animals and their welfare, just in different ways. Go get ’em, kid!

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