Saturday, February 26, 2011

That thin blurry line...

Ok...are we ready for a little reflection time here?

Well...have you ever wondered what makes us human and what is our relationship to animals? Some may say the usual, age old, answer that we have the ability to reason and think rationally, plan ahead and communicate with language etc...but that is all reproducible in the animal world in some sort and so many so-called "humans" do the exact opposite of the above mentioned.
The notion of "humanity" was created to dissociate man from "the rest"...i.e. animals. So, from a philosophical point of view...we exist as human only because there are other living creatures out there that we call animals. That we dissociate ourselves from animals has, in itself, nothing wrong but when we use that to assert our superiority and dominance over animals then the perversion is complete.How many times have we heard the expression: "its just an animal...i can do whatever i want with it..." about now turning this whole discussion around and analysing from another angle...From an evolutionary point of view, we would be NOTHING without animals. Since the beginning of civilisation, humans have used animals to survive as a species. Animals for food, animals for protection against the cold, animals to plough their land; animals for hunting, for companionship, animals to move quicker and conquer new territories and animals as role models (Gods) How many years was that ago? Thousand of years? Come to think of it...we still do all these until now!Meat, milk and eggs are still in our diet; leather is still worn,dogs still used for hunting, cormorants used for fishing,types of animals kept as pets is ever increasing, Horses are still used to move around and animals are still in the pantheon of deities in so many cultures. In addition to all that people have found new "uses" for the ones we call "non human" fashion etc. Now can you imagine ourselves without animals? I guess we would have failed in an epic way as a species without them. We have always used and still are using animals and have you ever wondered why the veterinary profession was invented? I guess that at some point of time, someone thought that if we were going to "USE" animals we better be responsible and cater for their needs and welfare... Yes...vets only look after animals that humans use, or that have some value for the humans. Have you ever heard about a vet who looks after cockroaches of some mollusc in the ocean? No huh!? So many of us do not feel responsible about this (including many vets) and so many people go to the other extreme and fight for rights for animals going to the extent of activism and terrorism...
So what makes us human heh? Is that the fact that we have feelings? The dalmation doggy that is on IV perfusion for 3 days in a row proves me that this is not the case. Doggy stopped eating since her mom died on monday and spends her time lying down in rain and sun over the mound where the mother is buried...How "animal" and "feelingless"is that? So many our extreme moments we are no more human than our animals...when we let our instincts and our inner self come out...So.. yeah...there is a line that demarcates us from animals...but that line is very thin and blurry!!
We owe a lot to animals, we are who we are and where we are thanks to them...and they deserve respect even if they are going to end up on your plate or help a blind man walk around and cross the street.

I feel I am so lucky and privileged to be a vet!

...and I guess everything happens for a reason too...

Sunday, February 6, 2011

"Tu deviens responsable pour toujours de ce que tu as apprivoisé" Antoine de St Exupery (Le Petit Prince)

The year 2011 has been officially named World Veterinary Year; with pompous launching ceremony in Lyon, France on the 24th January...This year marks the 250th anniversary of the first ever Veterinary School.
250 years, hundreds of veterinary schools around the world, constant progress in Veterinary Care and yet so many of us vets have missed one crucial thing..the purpose of being a vet. Today's blog is not to be confused with criticism but just a reflection on who we are supposed to be as vets.
A couple of weeks ago, one co-worker asked me to help her daughter with a an essay on veterinarians and the next day, she came back telling me that she never thought that veterinarians are the guardians of human health too!! Yes...every animal that provides humans with food(meat, egg, milk) and other by-products has been kept in good health and monitored by a vet; at the Meat Authority, it is the Vet who gives the final clearance for animal products to be placed on the market;same thing at the Seafood Hub; all the lab animals that give their lives to save and prolong hundreds of human lives are looked after by vets.
Yes...a vet is not only that guy at the end of the street, who vaccinates your dog; he is supposed to be much more than that. A vet is the guardian of Animal Welfare in the first place."Why should you care?" Some may say...The fact is, human beings have USED animals since the beginning of civilisation; we are still using and will be using animals. If we are where we are as a "successful"species today, it is largely because our ancestors did USE animals. To quote St Exupery "You become responsible, forever, for what you have tamed" and if we are going to use an animal for whatever purpose, it is our basic responsibility to cater for their welfare, to alleviate their suffering and minimise their distress. But how many of us believe in that purpose?; How many will just be vets to make money? I like to thrive on the misfortunes and ailments of animals.
These last few months, I have been the witness of so many cases where the vet could not care less about his patient's distress; cases of supposedly loving owners leaving a dog's foot to rot because he did not have time to bring him to a vet; cases where well-intentioned owners accepted that their pets were being bullied and punished in some fancy "training sessions"...Big effing hypocrisy!
People frown upon the use of animals in labs but run to the pharmacy to buy animal tested drugs at the first headache or runny nose; the same people have nothing to say and approve animals being whipped to run for human pleasure (Yes...Surprise!..That's what horse racing is all about!)
Vet places a bandage improperly on dog's leg - impaired circulation; leg gets gangrenous and is amputated.Who cares? Another one prescribes Paracetamol to a kitten, when it is basic knowledge that this is TOXIC to cats (they lack the enzyme to metabolise that drug. What excuse does he have for this? Simply didn't give a damn!. But hey...responsibility to cater for animal welfare is meant for the owners too. How can Mr X bring a dog half eaten with maggots last thursday? What could have been more important during a whole week than his pet's suffering? How can so many people accept animal punishment; Prong collars(collars with metallic spikes on the inside), Choke chains and even Electric prods being used by so-called "Dog Trainers" on their pets?!? Isn't that the same dog you cherish?
The answer is "irresponsibility"...both from vets and owners and negative-reinforcement promoters on the island. My request to you all,owners, vets and wanna-be vets, remember what is your role and responsibility for the animal you are/will be looking after. After I had questioned the use of a prong collar on her Rott, my friend Dee said she felt sorry that she allowed that and told me "Shadow has forgiven sure". Yep! It's like that with dogs, true "unconditional love"...they will still look up to you as the pack leader and respect you no matter what.In return, the least you can do is to be the person your dog thinks you are and if you are a vet, be up to it and do your best for the matter what or who.
Money etc are all secondary in that setup.
Am sorry if this was an angry and blunt one today but I feel that I need to air this all the peeps reading me...with the secret hope that it may help at least one animal.