Zero Deaths for New York's Healthy Shelter Pets in February
Thanks to the Mayor's Alliance for NYC's Animals, Animal Care & Control of New York City, and the ninety plus partners of Maddie's® Pet Rescue Project in New York City, no healthy dog or cat died in a New York City animal shelter during the month of February.
To reach the lifesaving benchmark, February was proclaimed "I Love NYC Pets" month, and included city-wide adoption events, extended shelter hours and gifts with every adoption.
The lifesaving achievement crowns two years in which Maddie's® Pet Rescue Project in New York City exceeded its goals in every category.
Since the Project began on January 1, 2005, total shelter deaths in New York City have decreased 35%, from 31,816 in the baseline year to 20,818 in 2006. Euthanasia of healthy shelter pets has declined even more dramatically, from 14,000 to 3,831 (a drop of 73%).
At the same time, adoptions have risen from 12,831 in the baseline year to 22,892 in Project Year Two. Adoption guarantee agencies have increased adoptions 72%, from 7,904 to 13,579.
In order to ensure a full adoption guarantee for healthy dogs and cats by Year Five, Maddie's® community projects are asked to put an adoption guarantee in place for healthy animals for one month in Year Three and for three consecutive months in Year Four. Maddie's® New York Project got that task out of the way so quickly that it might be possible for the coalition to save the remaining healthy shelter pets months or even years ahead of schedule.
"We are so excited about New York's lifesaving results," said Maddie's Fund President, Rich Avanzino. "We congratulate every individual in every organization who has worked so hard to reach this benchmark."
February 23, 2007
Vet social work program counsels pet owners, staff
by Laura Mercer
A new program strictly for humans is now available at the Veterinary Teaching Hospital – MSU Veterinary Social Work Services – the first of its kind in Michigan.
Dedicated exclusively to veterinary social work, the program offers counseling services for pet owners, veterinarians, veterinary technicians and other staff.
“We provide crisis counseling for pet owners whose pets have serious medical conditions or who are facing grief from pet loss,” explained Amanda Morgan, a master’s student in social work and intern.
The program is led by Linda Lawrence, clinical instructor and undergraduate adviser in the School of Social Work, who oversees Morgan and Marilyn Samoza, another master’s student in social work and intern.
The program’s primary goals are to alleviate crisis situations of pet owners and provide support for veterinary staff members. While some pet owners have begun to seek counseling services, many are first contacted informally while waiting for their pet’s appointment or services to be completed.
“Radiation clients are here four to five days a week for up to four weeks,” said Lawrence. “We have time to build a supportive relationship. Oncology patients and their owners are here for regular appointments for an extended period of time and are wonderful support for each other.”
“Losing a pet is a traumatic experience,” said Lawrence. A pet is a ‘member of the family,’ and those who do not own pets often do not understand the human-animal bond that is formed between pet owner and pet. When a pet passes away, owners experience grief, sometimes lasting months.
“We are here to normalize people’s grief over losing a pet. Socially, people are often told to ‘get over’ losing a pet and that the pet is ‘just a dog’ or ‘just a cat,’” said Morgan.
Samoza said, “Explaining to owners that what they feel is normal helps people understand their feelings.”
Cat owner Elaine Muscat said her experiences with Lawrence as a source of support and compassion were exceptional. Muscat’s cat, Jasper, was diagnosed with cancer in 2004. Through the support of Muscat’s family and the Veterinary Teaching Hospital, Jasper’s life was extended for about two more years.
Meanwhile, as Jasper was receiving treatments, Muscat’s father passed away. At that time, Lawrence began meeting with Muscat, who traveled from the Detroit area, on a regular basis.
“Linda made sure Jasper’s appointments were always on Mondays at 10 a.m., and she was available to have coffee and speak with me,” said Muscat. “It was wonderful therapy for me while Jasper received high-quality treatment from doctors and staff at the hospital.”
The social work program is planning to start a pet loss support group and a veterinary technician support group. Research has shown that veterinary staff members often experience “compassion fatigue” or a form of stress resulting in caring and working with others who are suffering. The support group will help veterinary technicians work through their feelings and learn coping skills.
The program is currently funded by the School of Social Work and the Veterinary Teaching Hospital.
For more information about the social work services program or to talk with a staff member, call (517) 353-5420. More information about pet loss is available at cvm.msu.edu/petloss/index.htm
Wednesday, March 8, 2006
Britain to Ban Some Wild Circus Animals
By THE ASSOCIATED PRESS, Published: March 8, 2006
LONDON (AP) -- The British government said Wednesday it intends to ban the use of some wild animals in traveling circuses.
New provisions to the Animal Welfare Bill would outlaw the use of yet-to-be named species "whose welfare needs cannot be satisfactorily met" in a traveling circus. Animals in permanent circus venues, zoo performances and in the "audio visual" industry would be exempt, Environment Minister Ben Bradshaw said in a written statement to the House of Commons.
Animal rights groups hailed the proposal as a positive step and urged lawmakers to quickly pass the bill so it could be implemented by the fall.
"This is wonderful news and the culmination of more than 10 years of hard work for us," said Jan Creamer, the chief executive of the animal welfare organization Animal Defenders International.
The Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals said many wild animal species, including elephants, lions, tigers, bears, camels and zebras, at three British traveling circuses are enduring "welfare problems."
They urged the government to extend the proposed ban to all wild circus animals, but believed that only bears, elephants and big cats would be shoe-ins as species covered under the ban. The government said the process for selection which animals are covered is open to discussion.
Friday, February 10, 2006
L.A. Court Overturns W. Hollywood Declaw Ban
From: Veterinary Practice News, Volume 18, Number 1
The first U.S. law banning the declawing of cats has been overturned.
The Los Angeles Superior Court overturned West Hollywood's ordinance enacting the ban, declaring it unlawful, invalid and unenforceable.
The Nov. 30 decision found in favor of the California Veterinary Medical Assn. and against the city.
The court said California's Veterinary Medicine Practice Act regulates what veterinarians may or may not do within the scope of practicing veterinary medicine. It noted that the Legislature has delegated that the authority to enforce the act's provisions to the state Veterinary Medical Board.
CVMA President Eric Weigand, DVM, said "it is important to have one set of rules regulating veterinary medicine in California. If each city had its own set of rules, confusion could arise", he said.
"Decisions regarding the practice of veterinary medicine should be left to veterinarians."
"The court's decision ensures that pets in West Hollywood and throughout California will receive the best care available, as consisently regulated by California law," Dr. Weigand said.
The West Hollywood City Council banned animal declawing in the city in 2003.
Friday, February 10, 2006
MSU Opens Animal Cancer Care Clinic
Fifty percent of dogs and cats over the age of 10 die of cancer, according to the Michigan State University College of Veterinary Medicine.
To help address this problem, MSU recently opend its Animal Cancer Care Clinic, a 42,000-square-foot facility that will provide individualize cancer treatment using medical, surgical, radiation, immune-based and molecularly targeted therapeutics.
Tuesday, January 24, 2005
Critter Fixer Pet Hospital
Bob Rogers, DVM
Spring, Texas, 77379
April 17, 2002
Office of the Attorney General
Consumer Protection Division
Austin, Texas 78711-2548
I hereby file a complaint against all licensed Veterinarians engaged in companion animal practice in the State of Texas for violation of the Rules of Professional Conduct, rule 573.26 which states: Licensed veterinarians shall conduct their practice with honesty, integrity, and fair dealing to clients in time and services rendered, and in the amount charged for services, facilities, appliances and drugs.
I assert that the present practice of marketing of vaccinations for companion animals constitutes fraud by misrepresentation, fraud by silence, theft by deception, and undue influence by all veterinarians engaged in companion animal practice in this state.
Recommending, administering, and charging for Canine Corona vaccinations for adult dogs is fraud by misrepresentation, fraud by silence, theft by deception, and undue influence given the literature that states:
1. Dogs over eight weeks of age are not susceptible to canine corona virus disease. Disease produced by canine corona virus has never been demonstrated in adult dogs. Dogs over eight weeks of age that are immunized against canine parvovirus will not develop symptoms of canine corona virus disease. Addition of an unnecessary antigen to the vaccination protocol will result in a lesser immunity to the important diseases like parvovirus and distemper, and increase the risk of adverse reactions.
2. Immunologists doubt that Canine corona virus vaccine works, as it would require secretory mucosal IgA antibodies to protect against corona virus and a parenteral vaccine does not accomplish this very well. Twenty-two Schools of Veterinary Medicine including Texas A&M University do not recommend canine corona virus vaccine.
3. Gastroenteroligists at Schools of Veterinary Medicine including Dr Michael Willard at Texas A&M University have stated that they have only seen one case of corona virus disease in a dog in ten years. On several occasions large numbers of dogs have died from adverse reactions to corona virus vaccine.
A reasonable client would not elect corona virus vaccination for an adult dog if presented this information.
Recommending, administering, and charging for re-administration of modified live vaccines like Canine Distemper, Canine Parvovirus, Feline Panleukopenia, injectable Feline Rhinotracheitis, and injectable Feline Calicivirus on an semi-annual, annual, bi-annual or tri-annual basis is theft by deception, fraud by misrepresentation, misrepresentation by silence, and undue influence given the literature that states:
1. The USDA Center for Biologic and Therapeutic Agents asserts that there is no scientific data to support label claims for annual re-administration of modified live vaccines, and label claims must be backed by scientific data.
2. It is the consensus of immunologist that a modified live virus vaccine must replicate in order to stimulate the immune system, and antibodies from a previous vaccination will block the replication of the new vaccinate virus. The immune status of the patient is not enhanced in any way. There is no benefit to the patient. The client is paying for something with insignificant or no effect, except that the patient is being exposed to unnecessary risk of an adverse reaction.
3. A temporal association has been demonstrated between vaccinations and the development of Immune Mediated Hemolytic Anemia.
4. It has been demonstrated that the duration of immunity for Canine Distemper virus is 7 years by challenge, and 15 years by serology; for Canine Parvovirus is 7 years by challenge, for Feline Panleukopenia, Rhinotracheitis, and Feline Calicivirus is 7.5 years by challenge.
A reasonable client would not elect re-administration of any of the above stated vaccinations for a previously immunized pet if provided with the above information.
The recommendation for administration of Leptospirosis vaccination in Texas is theft by deception, fraud by misrepresentation, misrepresentation by silence and undue influence given the fact that:
1. Although Leptospirosis is re-emerging as an endemic disease for dogs in some areas of the country, Leptospirosis in dogs in Texas is a very rare disease. According to the Texas Veterinary Medical Diagnostic Lab there are only an average of twelve cases of Leptospirosis documented in dogs in Texas per year. Factors to identify those dogs that are at risk have not been identified. Given that there are over 6 million dogs in Texas, the risk of leptospirosis disease to a dog is less than 2 in a million.
2. The commonly used vaccine only contains serovars Lepto. canicola, and Lepto icterohaemorrhagiae, and no cross protection is provided against the other three serovars diagnosed in Texas. Newer vaccines containing Lepto pomona, and Lepto grippotyphosa are available but the duration of immunity is less than one year. To provide protection for a dog against Leptospirosis would require two vaccines with four serovars twice per year.
3. Although humans can develop Leptospirosis, the spread of Lepto. from a dog to a human has never been documented and is thought to be a very low risk.
Given that the risk of an adverse reaction, a reasonable client would not elect vaccination of their pet if provided with the above information.
The recommendation of Lyme disease vaccine for dogs residing in Texas is fraud by misrepresentation, misrepresentation by silence and undue influence given the literature that states:
1. The Texas Department of Health only reports an average of 70 cases of Human Lyme disease per year in Texas, all of which were likely acquired when people were traveling out of the state.
2. Julie Rawlings reported in her research on the incidence of the lyme disease organism in ticks in Texas State Parks for the Texas Department of Health that the Borrelia burgdorferi organism is not present in sufficient numbers or in the suitable tick vector for dogs for Lyme disease to be endemic in Texas.
3. Eighty per cent of Lyme disease cases in the U.S. are found in the nine New England States and Wisconsin.
4. Texas A&M College of Veterinary Medicine has not documented one case of Lyme disease in a dog acquired in Texas. Testing on shelter dogs has not revealed a single case.
5. Dr Jacobson, Cornell University has documented a temporal relationship in over 327 cases of dogs, which acquired polyarthritis after the Lyme disease vaccine.
A reasonable client would not elect Lyme disease vaccine for their pet if given this information on the risks vs the benefit.
The recommendation for vaccination of cats with an adjuvanted vaccine without offering a safer alternative vaccine is fraud by misrepresentation, misrepresentation by silence, and undue influence given the literature that states:
1. Adjuvanted vaccines have been incriminated as a cause of Injection Site Fibrosarcoma in cats.
2. 1:1000 cats vaccinated develop this type of cancer, which is 100% fatal.
3. Safer alternative non-adjuvanted vaccines are available.
A reasonable client would not elect adjuvanted vaccines for their cat if given this information.
The recommendation for vaccination of cats with Feline Infectious Peritonitis vaccine is fraud by misrepresentation, misrepresentation by silence, and undue influence given the literature that states:
1. Feline Infectious peritonitis is a rare disease.
2. Eight percent of adult cats carry the normal flora avirulent Feline Corona Virus. On rare occasions this Corona Virus mutates to become a virulent feline Infectious Peritonitis Virus. Every mutation is a different variant and there is no cross protection. This vaccine does not and cannot work.
3. Independent studies have not confirmed the manufacturers claims for efficacy.
4. Twenty- two Schools of Veterinary Medicine and the American Association of Feline Practitioners does not recommend this vaccine.
A reasonable client would not elect this vaccine if given this information.
The recommendation of annual Feline Leukemia Vaccine for adult cats, and cats that are not at risk is theft by deception, fraud by misrepresentation, misrepresentation by silence, and undue influence given the literature that states:
1. Cats over one year of age, if not previously infected, are immune to Feline Leukemia virus infection whether they are vaccinated or not.
2. Adjuvanted Feline leukemia vaccine can cause Injection Site Fibrosarcomas, a fatal type of cancer. This type of cancer is though to occur in 1:10,000 cats vaccinated.
3. Only cats less than one year of age and at risk cats should be vaccinated against Feline Leukemia virus.
A reasonable client would not elect this vaccine for their cat if given this information.
The recommendation of annual rabies vaccination for dogs and cats with three- year duration of immunity vaccine is theft by deception, fraud by misrepresentation, misrepresentation by silence, and undue influence given that:
1. The vaccines has been licensed by the USDA and proven to have duration of immunity of three years by the USDA and seven years by serology by Dr Ron Schultz, therefore annual readministration the client is paying for something with no benefit.
2. Beyond the second vaccination, no data exist to demonstrate that the immune statis of the pet is enhanced.
3. The National Association of State Public Health Veterinarians recommendation is for vaccination of dogs and cats for rabies at four months, one year later, and then every three years subsequently. This recommendation has been proven effective in 33 States in the United States.
The recommendation of blood tests for antibody titers on dogs and cats in order to determine if re-administration of vaccine is indicated is fraud by misrepresentation, misrepresentation by silence, and undue influence given the literature that states:
1. The duration of immunity to infectious disease agents is controlled by memory cells, B & T lymphocytes. Once programed, memory cells persist for life. The presence of memory cells is not taken into effect when testing for antibody titers.
2. Even in the absence of an antibody titer, memory cells are capable of mounting an adequate immune response in an immunized patient. A negative titer does not indicate lack of immunity, or the ability of a vaccine to significantly enhance the immune status of a patient.
3. A positive titer has not been demonstrated by challenge studies to indicate immunity.
4. The client is paying for a test when a Veterinarian can make no claims about the test results.
5. It has been proven that the re-administration of modified live vaccines has no effect, and that duration of immunity is 7 years or more.
A reasonable client would not elect this test if given this information.
I have brought these deceptive trade practices to the attention of this Board by writing six letters to the board, and appearing before the Board at three Board meetings. The Board members have demonstrated, by the questions that they have asked me, that they are uniformed on these issues, that they have not read the literature that I have sent to support my assertions, and that they have not read the letters I have written. On every occasion the Board members have refused to take any action on these matters.
The Board has also ignored my request to deny approval of Continuing Education credit for seminars on Vaccination of Companion Animals provided by Pfizer Animal Health drug company which are fraudulent by omission of material facts, a conflict of interest, and thereby influence Veterinarians to continue deceptive trade practice in the marketing of vaccines.
The people of the State of Texas have paid over $360 million dollars per year for vaccinations that are unnecessary and potentially harmful to their pets. Over 600,000 pets suffer every year from adverse reactions to unnecessary vaccinations. Many of them die.
A survey by the American Animal Hospital Association shows that less than 7% of Veterinarians have updated their vaccination recommendations, in spite of the fact that these new recommendations have been published twice in every major Veterinary Medical Journal since 1995.
Given that it is the compact of this Board with the State of Texas to protect the people of Texas, and whereby it is provided in the Texas Administrative Code Title 22, Part 24, Chapter 577, Subchapter B, Rule 577.16: Responsibilities of the Board (a) The Texas Board of Veterinary Medical Examiners is responsible for establishing policies and promulgating rules to establish and maintain a high standard of integrity, skills, and practice in the profession of Veterinary medicine in accordance with the Veterinary Licensing Act, I hereby assert that the Texas State Board of Veterinary Medical Examiners must take demonstrated and thorough action to stop the deceptive trade practices and fraud in the marketing of vaccinations for companion animals.
A reasonable solution would be for the Texas State Board of Veterinary Medical Examiners to request an opinion from the Attorney General on these issues, and for the Texas State Board to issue a policy statement in the Board Notes indicating a Board policy prohibiting each of the practices I have outlined above.
An alternative solution would be to notify every Veterinarian engaged in companion animal practice in this state of the complaint that has been filed against them, and prosecute each and every complaint.
If demonstrated and thorough action to stop the deceptive trade practices has not been taken by this Board within ninety days of receipt of this letter I will file a class action suit against the Texas State Board of Veterinary Medical Examiners on behalf of the people of Texas, for negligence in the execution of their responsibilities, and I will request a Court order to instruct the Board to perform their duties.
Dr Robert L Rogers
The above statements are true and accurate to the best of my knowledge
Tuesday, January 24, 2005
Vaccination: Helpful or Harmful?
by Dr. Don Hamilton, DVM
Reprinted with permission
Vaccination is not as widely and unquestionably accepted today as it was in the past. Many pet guardians and veterinarians believe we have taken the concept much farther than its usefulness warrants. In twenty years of veterinary practice, I have made the transition from believing strongly in the protective power of vaccines to becoming continually more certain that they create at least as much illness as they have ever prevented. In truth, I now consider vaccination to be tantamount to animal abuse in most cases.
This opinion has two main bases: First, vaccines often do not provide any protection. This may result from poor vaccine performance (as with feline leukemia virus, feline infectious peritonitis virus, and ringworm vaccines), lack of risk (all vaccines at times, but particularly the above vaccines plus rabies), or simply lack of need (as with booster vaccination in almost all cases). Secondly, many vaccines actually induce illness that is much greater than that of the diseases that they are designed to prevent.
A further consideration is that vaccination weakens the strength of a population by allowing individuals to survive that otherwise would succumb to natural diseases; these diseases provide cleansing and strengthening for the population under normal conditions. The population is further weakened by immunosuppressive and possibly gene-damaging vaccine impacts. Vaccination likely provides protection from acute, contagious diseases by inducing chronic disease. This trade-off is not a good one and itself amounts to abuse.
Obviously there are several issues here that affect an immunization decision. Each is a separate factor with its own issues. I'll start with booster vaccinations, as this is the clearest area and one with little risk of error. Simply put, there is almost never a need for booster immunization. Once immunized, an animal, as with humans, is protected for life. Further vaccinations do not improve the immunity. The following quote, from Ron Schultz, Ph.D., and Tom Phillips, DVM, appeared in Current Veterinary Therapy XI in 1992 (This is a purely conventional textbook, and Drs. Schultz and Phillips are respected veterinary immunologists in the academic community):
"A practice that was started many years ago and that lacks scientific validity or verification is annual revaccinations. Almost without exception there is no immunologic requirement for annual revaccination. Immunity to viruses persists for years or for the life of the animal. Successful vaccination to most bacterial pathogens produces an immunologic memory that remains for years, allowing an animal to develop a protective anamnestic (secondary) response when exposed to virulent organisms. Only the immune response to toxins requires boosters (e.g. tetanus toxin booster, in humans, is recommended once every 7-10 years), and no toxin vaccines are currently used for dogs and cats. Furthermore, revaccination with most viral vaccines fails to stimulate an anamnestic (secondary) response as a result of interference by existing antibody (similar to maternal antibody interference). The practice of annual vaccination in our opinion should be considered of questionable efficacy unless it is used as a mechanism to provide an annual physical examination or is required by law (i.e., certain states require annual revaccination for rabies)."
In essence, Drs. Schultz and Phillips are stating that the only reasons for annual vaccination are legal (as with rabies vaccination) or as a means of manipulating guardians into bringing their companions for examinations (rather than simply recommending an examination). They also clearly state that booster vaccines provide no other benefit, including improved or added immunization. Although it has been some years since this was published, the veterinary community has made little headway toward following these recommendations. Some university experts now recommend vaccinations every three years, and other university clinics recommend titer testing to determine need. While both concepts are a step in the right direction, they still do not reflect the actual picture.
As the above quote indicates, immunologic memory lasts for years (usually for the life of the individual). This memory is not dependent upon titers, nor do titer levels always accurately indicate the immune status. A titer is a reflection of the quantity of circulating antibodies (immunoglobulins) to a given antigen (in this case, an organism). Cells in the body produce the antibody. These cells retain the ability to produce antibodies toward a given antigen for quite a long time, usually for life. Upon re-exposure, they can produce antibody within forty-eight hours. As a consequence of this capability, there is no need for the body to expend the energy needed to maintain circulating antibodies. A low or absent titer, therefore, does not mean the body is unprotected. The body may simply have cells ready to act, like firefighters playing cards until they are needed. When booster vaccines are administered, antibodies destroy the vaccine particles before they can augment the immunity, and nothing is accomplished.
With kittens, antibodies (maternal antibody) may be passed from the mother to the kittens via the umbilical cord and via colostrum (the first milk). This antibody serves to protect the kitten, but it also can interfere with vaccination. For this reason, we often vaccinate kittens multiple times, in hopes that we will give a vaccination shortly after the maternal antibody diminishes to a level that will not interfere with vaccination. This is often overkill, as one vaccination can induce immunity in approximately 95 percent of animals if the timing is correct.
Multiple vaccination, particularly with combination vaccines, is one of the greatest contributors to vaccine-induced illness. Limiting vaccination to one or two doses of appropriately indicated vaccines could greatly reduce disease from vaccination. In my opinion, this would be a huge step in the right direction for those who are too fearful to avoid vaccines entirely.
The next area of concern is that of risk. Veterinarians and vaccine companies frequently use fear to convince others of the need for vaccines. Often, the risk of disease is so small that vaccination is foolish. Many cats are kept indoors, and while this practice is certainly controversial (I believe all animals need exposure to the outside), these cats have virtually no risk of exposure to most organisms (especially rabies and feline leukemia virus, both of which require direct contact with an infected animal). Vaccination is generally pointless for these animals.
Even in outdoor cats, vaccines may be unnecessary, as many diseases are not truly contagious. In these cases vaccination is useless since it is not directed toward the cause of illness. These diseases are immune suppressive (often autoimmune) conditions. The immunosuppression occurs first, allowing a virus, bacteria, or fungus to grow. We know this because healthy animals are unaffected by these organisms. Organisms that fit this category include feline leukemia virus, feline infectious peritonitis virus, feline immunodeficiency virus, and ringworm (in most cases). Vaccines for these diseases are therefore of no benefit; in fact, they often induce just the disease they are purported to prevent. These vaccines are among the most dangerous ones available. The only prevention of these diseases comes from a healthy diet and lifestyle.
Vaccination often receives undue credit for disease prevention, and we often hear raving about the lifesaving benefits of vaccination. From human studies, however, we know that the death rates of measles, whooping cough, and polio had fallen significantly prior to the introduction of vaccination; in the case of measles it had dropped 95 percent. Many practitioners around the turn of the century reported that smallpox immunization often increased a person's chance of disease; this was even reflected in public health statistics. (Miller) Most of the reduction of disease actually resulted from good food and good hygiene.
This brings us to the question of damage from vaccines. Although this is the most controversial aspect of vaccination, I see this so commonly that I personally have no doubts that vaccines are extremely dangerous. Most of my homeopathic colleagues are in agreement. We believe vaccination underlies a huge percentage of illness that we see today, and especially the rash of autoimmune diseases; these have increased dramatically since my graduation from veterinary school in 1979.
I'll briefly present a case that turned my head many years ago. When I first heard that vaccines might actually cause disease, I was skeptical. Of course, I knew about allergic reactions and other quick responses, but I assumed that these initial reactions were the extent of the problem. I remember a case, however, that opened my eyes. Fluffy was a sweet Persian cat who lived with an equally sweet woman.
Fluffy had recurrent bouts of cystitis (urinary bladder inflammation) that were very resistant to conventional and homeopathic treatment. Despite the fact that I liked Fluffy's guardian (and Fluffy), I hated to hear from her, as it was such a frustrating case. The bladder infections were never under control for long before they would return. One day I was reviewing the record for some clue as to what to do next when I had a stunning revelation. The cystitis bouts were always about a month after the yearly boosters. I suggested to Fluffy's guardian that we no longer vaccinate Fluffy, and I never needed to treat Fluffy's cystitis again. I could only conclude that vaccines could indeed cause diseases - even a supposed infection.
Once I opened my eyes to the possibility of vaccine-induced illness, I began to see it commonly. It even became clear that certain vaccines could cause chronic illness that resembled the acute disease that the vaccine was intended to prevent. Panleukopenia is a good example.
With panleukopenia, major symptoms include inflammation and degeneration of the intestinal tract leading to severe vomiting and diarrhea, severe reduction of white blood cells (leukopenia) leading to immunosuppression, loss of appetite, mucopurulent nasal discharge, dehydration, and rapid weight loss. The chronic diseases we see frequently in cats correspond to many of these symptoms. Inflammatory bowel disease, an autoimmune inflammation of the intestines, is occurring at epidemic levels today. This disease was virtually nonexistent twenty years ago, yet today it is one of the most frequent diagnoses.
Cats are also extremely susceptible to immune malfunction and immunosuppression. The immunosuppressive state has been associated with two retroviruses (feline leukemia virus and feline immunodeficiency virus), and others are suspected. Rather than these being separate diseases, I believe they are the same, but that more than one virus can fill the niche opened by the immunosuppression (remember that with chronic diseases the illness precedes the infection). This is probably the same in people with HIV (human immunodeficiency virus) related viruses. Parvoviruses, which include the feline panleukopenia virus, are known to be very immunosuppressive. Additionally, I suspect the feline upper respiratory infections are a chronic state of the panleukopenia virus-induced immunosuppression and the tendency to get eye discharges.
A similar scenario now exists in dogs. While immunosuppressive states are not common in dogs, reports of their occurrence are on the rise. I believe the massive vaccination program for canine parvovirus, which began some thirty plus years after we began vaccinating cats with feline parvovirus (panleukopenia virus), is creating this situation in dogs. If this is true, then the imminent future bodes poorly for dogs if the problem in cats is an indication. Furthermore, we have been seeing inflammatory bowel disease in dogs over the past five to ten years. Prior to this it was virtually nonexistent. I am certain that vaccination for parvovirus and coronavirus is a major cause. I commonly see inflammatory bowel disease that arises within a month or two after vaccination for one of these viruses.
There is still another syndrome associated with parvoviruses, one that occurred first in cats, and later in dogs. Cardiomyopathy is a disease of the heart muscle. The muscle may either weaken and stretch (dilated cardiomyopathy), or it may thicken greatly (hypertrophic cardiomyopathy). Either condition will limit the heart's ability to pump blood. Cardiomyopathy is often fatal.
We have been diagnosing cardiomyopathy in cats for over twenty years, approximately the same period of time as for inflammatory bowel disease. Many (but not all) cases of the dilated form of cardiomyopathy have been associated with a deficiency of the amino acid L-taurine. The cause for hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, as well as the cause for the nontaurine-associated cases of dilated cardiomyopathy, is unknown. I believe that the answer may have appeared in dogs.
When canine parvovirus first erupted in the late 1970s, many young puppies died rapidly, sometimes within hours. It turned out that parvovirus was capable of attacking the heart muscle in young puppies, and this form of the infection killed the puppies rapidly.
Cardiomyopathy did not affect dogs before the parvovirus outbreak (or if so it was very rare), but in the years since the outbreak it has appeared. The number of cases has especially risen over the past five to ten years, coincident with the rise of inflammatory bowel disease in dogs. The Merck Veterinary Manual states that, "The cause [of dilated cardiomyopathy in dogs] is still unknown although viral infection and resultant autoimmune reaction against the damaged myocardium are suspect. Since the canine parvovirus (CPV) pandemic of 1978, male Doberman pinschers appear to be highly vulnerable to both CPV and cardiomyopathy." (Fraser) In the years since this was written (in 1986), we have begun to see cardiomyopathy in many other breeds as well as Doberman pinschers.
I believe the author of this section of The Merck Veterinary Manual was correct, but I believe that parvovirus vaccination is even more likely to be the cause in most cases. I also believe that this explains the occurrence of cardiomyopathy in cats. Perhaps the heart muscle association of the feline parvovirus (panleukopenia virus) was not seen in natural infections, but vaccination brought it to the surface. Cardiomyopathy is an autoimmune disease, and vaccines are major causes of autoimmune disease. In my opinion, these connections are too close to be coincidence alone.
Another vaccine that induces great anguish for guardian and companion is the rabies vaccine. I see many cases of fear and aggression that stem from rabies vaccination. If you consider the nature of rabies, this might not surprise you. It appears we are introducing chronic rabies into our animals by injecting rabies virus particles into their bodies. How, you may wonder, could inactivated virus induce illness? Apparently, the ability to affect change is not contingent upon the quality of aliveness, as we understand the concept. In fact, viruses are on the border between living and non-living; they require another organism to reproduce and thrive; otherwise they are little more than a chemical compound with the potential to alter the metabolism of their hosts.
Other conditions we see frequently in veterinary medicine today are not so directly traceable to a particular vaccine, but the general connection to vaccination is clear to many practitioners. Hyperthyroidism (increased production of thyroid hormones) was not seen when I first graduated from veterinary school. It was not simply misdiagnosed. The symptoms are so characteristic that the syndrome would have been recognized even if the cause was unknown. The disease did not exist. Could vaccines be responsible? Let's look at another case:
Sheba is a Siamese mix cat. She was nine years old when her guardian first consulted me. One week after vaccination, Sheba stopped eating and developed a rapid heart rate. Her conventional veterinarian suspected hyperthyroidism, although thyroid testing revealed no abnormalities. One dose of Thuja (a homeopathic remedy) reversed the rapid heartbeat and the appetite problems, and her health bloomed after the remedy so that she was better than before she became ill. Clearly the vaccines had caused these problems. I believe she would have developed true hyperthyroid disease if untreated.
The status of cats has elevated significantly since the 1960's. Prior to this most cats received little veterinary care. Since the 1970's, however, as cat status elevated, the care given to cats has climbed. This has generally meant more vaccinations. And rabies vaccination was often not recommended for cats until the mid-1980s. I believe the massive increase of vaccines in cats is responsible for hyperthyroidism as well as many other recently emerging diseases.
Cats suffer greatly from vaccination damage. The most obvious vaccine-induced problem is one that is deathly serious, causing great suffering among cats and cat companions. Fibrosarcomas, a type of cancer, occur more and more as a result of vaccination. The vaccines that are implicated are the rabies and feline leukemia virus vaccines. These cancers arise at the site of injection of one of the vaccines. Researchers have identified vaccine particles within the cancer mass in a number of cases; the link is definite. Many veterinarians now refer to these cancers as vaccine sarcomas. Fibrosarcomas are malignant, and the average life expectancy is less than three years once the cancer has arisen. No treatment has proven satisfactory. Even with aggressive surgical removal, these cancers recur in the vast majority of cats. Some leading veterinarians recommend giving the vaccines in a leg, or even in the tail (ow!), to make amputation a viable option in case the cancers arise. Does this make sense?
Obviously, when we reach the point of making recommendations like these, we are out of control. But do we simply avoid vaccinations in order to avoid all risk? Or is there possibly more risk by not vaccinating? Personally, I am opposed to vaccination in virtually all situations, but I will endeavor to give some guidelines that will assist you in making a balanced decision regarding your feline companions.
There are four criteria that are at the center of any vaccine decision. One should only consider administering a vaccine if all four criteria are met:
1. The disease is serious, even life threatening.
2. The animal is or will be exposed to the disease.
3. The vaccine for the disease is known to be effective.
4. The vaccine for the disease is considered safe.
Let's look at individual diseases to see how this works. I'll start with feline leukemia virus (FeLV) disease. An indoor-only cat will not be exposed (number two) as this virus requires direct, intimate, cat-to-cat contact for transmission. Many veterinarians recommend immunizing indoor cats against this disease, but I feel this is unethical. This disease does not fit criteria numbers three or four anyway in my experience, so vaccination is unwarranted in most if not all circumstances. If a vaccine for the feline immunodeficiency virus were developed, it would be the same as for FeLV.
Feline infectious peritonitis (FIP) is another disease that fits neither three nor four, and rarely number two. The FIP virus vaccine has generally been found ineffective and has produced severe side effects. Among the side effects I have observed with both FIP and FeLV vaccines is induction of the clinical disease they were intended to prevent.
Feline panleukopenia virus is very serious and the vaccine is quite effective, but most cats will not be exposed to the virus and the disease generally affects kittens only. Only those cats that are likely to be exposed would benefit from vaccination, and one vaccination between the age of ten to twelve weeks will protect 95 percent of cats for life. (Schultz)
With the feline upper respiratory diseases (calicivirus and rhinotracheitis virus as well as feline chlamydia), most are not serious except in very young kittens. These kittens generally contract the disease before vaccines would typically be administered, so the vaccine is not often beneficial. If you choose to immunize for these, use the intranasal form, and do not vaccinate for chlamydia. The chlamydia fraction produces poor immunization.
Recently a vaccine for ringworm was introduced. I have no direct experience with this vaccine, but I am certain that it will have little benefit and it is probably unsafe. Ringworm is usually the result of immunodeficiency - a chronic disease rather than an acute illness, so the vaccine will not address the cause of disease. I strongly recommend against using this vaccine.
In dogs, canine hepatitis virus (the vaccine virus to prevent canine hepatitis is adenovirus-2) is almost nonexistent (criteria number two). Leptospirosis is extremely rare (number two) and the bacterial serotypes that cause the few observed cases are often not the same serotype as the ones used in the vaccine25 (there is no cross protection between different serotypes). In other words, the leptospira component in the combination vaccines rarely protects the dog against the disease (number three). Additionally, the bacterin for "lepto" is very prone to side effects (number four).
Coronavirus was never a serious threat (numbers one and two) except to dog companions' bank accounts, the same being true for Lyme disease except possibly in very small regions (number two). The vaccine for Lyme disease commonly causes illness in my experience, often mimicking the disease (number four). Kennel cough disease is generally not serious (number one), and one study showed immunization to be ineffective or even counterproductive (number three).26 Immunization for kennel cough should be limited to high-risk circumstances, if at all.
Canine parvovirus and canine distemper virus present the only real threats, and most dogs will not be exposed to these diseases. Parvovirus rarely affects dogs over one year of age, and even eight- to twelve-month-old dogs generally survive the disease with minimal illness.
Finally, while rabies is a very serious disease with the potential to infect humans (this is the reason for excessive vaccination laws), most animals are very unlikely to be exposed. One vaccine at four months of age will protect most cats for life. If one booster vaccination is administered, almost all animals (95 percent) are immunized for life. (Schultz)
In summary, my first recommendation is avoidance of vaccination whenever possible. If the risk is great, one panleukopenia vaccination will adequately protect the cat in almost all cases. The intranasal rhinotracheitis-calicivirus vaccine is relatively effective, but very few cats will benefit from this. Finally, rabies is legally mandated, but one vaccination will generally protect cats that are at risk.
I never recommend vaccines for feline leukemia virus, feline infectious peritonitis virus, Chlamydia, ringworm, or the feline immunodeficiency virus. And I never recommend booster vaccines; these are always unwarranted.
Clarence Fraser, ed. The Merck Veterinary Manual (Rahway, New Jersey: Merck & Co., Inc., 1986).
Neil Miller, Vaccines: Are They Really Safe and Effective? (Santa Fe, NM: New Atlantean Press, 1994).
Phillips, T.R., DVM, and Ron Schultz, Ph.D., "Canine and Feline Vaccines," in Current Veterinary Therapy XI, Robert Kirk, DVM and John Bonagura, DVM, eds. (Philadelphia: Saunders, 1992).
Ron Schultz, "Theory and Practice of Immunization" (paper presented at the annual meeting of the American Holistic Veterinary Medical Association, Snowmass, CO, September 1995), 92-104.
Dr. Don Hamilton practices veterinary homeopathy in New Mexico. The vaccination issue is comprehensively reviewed in a chapter of his book, Homeopathic Care for Cats and Dogs: Small Doses for Small Animals (Berkeley, California, North Atlantic Books, 1999).
© Copyright Don Hamilton, DVM
Monday, December 20, 2004
Michigan Student Creates "Animal on Microchip"
Veterinary Practice News, Volume 16, Number 12, December 2004
(Published by Fancy Publications, a division of BowTie, Inc. www.vetpracticenews.com)
Wei Gu, a University of Michigan engineering student, developed a computer program that could eliminate the need for laboratory testing on animals, reported the university.
The device won first place in the October Collegiate Inventor's Competition.
The program directs cells and fluids through channels on a microchip, making the cells think they're in a body.
Each chip contains wells of living tissue connected by a circulatory system. The program controls how these tissues exchange fluids. A test drug could be inserted into the device to see how if affects each kind of tissue.
The progrbe first used to create an "animal on a chip," said Shuichi Takayama, Gu's advisor and an assistant professor of biomedical engineering at the university.
The chip could be used for clinical diagnostics, drug development and biosensors. "It may be ethically more palatable than using lab animals, and most importantly, you could use real human cells to run these tests," said Takayama.
Tuesday, July 20, 2004
Cats in Clear re: Birds
Best Friends Magazine, July/August 2004
(Published by Best Friends Animal Society)
United Kingdom-- Dwidling number of Britain's most common garden birds have led to an major study by Britian's Royal Society for the Protection of Birds. The changes are alarming, but one of the traditional scapegoats - cats - have been absolved of guilt.
"Robins, chaffinches, collared doves, and wood pigeons are all prey to magpies and cats," said a spokesman for the RSPB, " but their numbers are actually on the rise."
"We don't know the exact answers. It could be food or habitat availability that's caused these drastic changes."
The group noted that birds are a major indicator of the health of the countryside.
Tuesday, March 23, 2004
"Rover" (and kitty too) Useless for Allergy Protection if Mom Smokes
SAN FRANCISCO (Ivanhoe Newswire) -- While previous studies have shown exposure to pets can protect allergy-prone children from developing allergies, new research shows exposure to secondhand smoke from their parents could negate that effect.
Results presented Saturday at the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma, & Immunology meeting in San Francisco show children of non-smoking parents were significantly less likely to be allergic to pets when they reached kindergarten if they were exposed to two or more cats or dogs during the first year of life than those who were exposed to one or no pets. However, for children of parents who smoked, exposure to those pets did not reduce their risk of developing allergies at 6 or 7 years old. In short, parental smoking wiped out the protective effect of pet exposure on the development of future allergies.
A previous study by researchers from the Medical College of Georgia that was published in 2002 showed children who grow up with dogs and cats in the home have as much as a 50-percent reduced risk of developing common allergies such as dust mites, grass and ragweed.
Expanding on that initial trial is this new research to determine if smoke exposure by parents alters that seemingly large protective benefit of having Fluffy or Rover in the home.
Of the more than 470 children in the study, 16 percent of the mothers smoked in the home while about 24 percent of the fathers reported smoking in the home. The children's urine was periodically tested for cotinine, a long-lasting byproduct of nicotine metabolism.
In a press conference, Dennis Ownby, M.D., from the Medical College of Georgia in Augusta, says the protective effect of exposure to cats and dogs in childhood "disappeared" if the parents smoked.
Dr. Ownby says the research provide more evidence of them impact of secondhand smoke on children. He says: "It says that cigarette smoking is not innocuous to young children. We see evidence that it's affecting their immune system. We know that if parents smoke, their children are absorbing chemicals from that smoke, as evidenced by the cotinine in their urine."
According to the American Academy of Asthma, Allergy & Immunology, as many as 40 million to 50 million people in the United States have allergies.
Friday, December 31, 2003
It's True, Italians Are the Best Lovers
(When it comes to animals, at least)!
Did you know that the entire nation of Italy is NO-KILL? In 1991, the Italian Parliament passed a law that forbade the killing of healthy stray cats and dogs. Municipalities are responsible for catching and spaying/neutering stray cats and dogs. Dogs are then cared for and adopted through kennels, while cats are returned to their habitats. For complete text of their legislation, please go to: Friends of Roman Cats.
Friday, December 31, 2003
San Francisco Board of Supervisors Condemns Cat Declawing
On September 23, the San Francisco Board of Supervisors adopted without opposition a resolution condemning cat declawing and urging cat owners and veterinarians to abandon the practice.
This follows an unanimous request by the San Francisco Commission of Animal Control and Welfare that the Board of Supervisors ban cat declawing within San Francisco.
Supervisor Gerardo Sandoval instead introduced the resolution condemning cat declawing. The resolution argues that cat declawing is both unnecessary and cruel.
WHEREAS, an onychectomy is often a non-therapeutic amputation, or declawing of the third phalanx (or tip) of a cat's paw; and,
WHEREAS, this surgical claw removal severs the attached muscles, tendons, and nerves in the front paws and can lead to bone fragments, arthritis, abscessess, biting, litter box avoidance, and degenerative claw regrowth; and
WHEREAS, more sensible and humane alternatives exist for guarding human safety against cat scratching;
Supervisor Sandoval said that depending on the response from the public over this resolution, he may yet introduce an ordinance that would ban cat declawing in San Francisco.
The full text of the resolution can be read here.
Monday, December 1, 2003
American Animal Hospital Association Takes a Stand
from: DVM News Magazine
Declawing of domestic cats is not medically necessary;
Declawing should be considered only after attempts have been made to prevent the cat from using its claws destructively; or when clawing presents a significant health risk to humans;
Veterinarians have an obligation to educate cat owners completely on declawing before performing the procedure.
Adoptable animals should not be victims of 'convenience authanasia'
Read full article at DVM News Magazine
Wednesday, April 09, 2003
All Veterinary Schools in North America Changing Vaccination Protocols
"Recent editions of the Senior Dogs Project's newsletter have reported on the ever-broadening trend of eliminating vaccinations for adult dogs, except for rabies, where required by state law. We have now had a report that all 27 veterinary schools in North America are in the process of changing their protocols for vaccinating dogs and cats. Here, in a nutshell, are the new guidelines under consideration: "Dogs and cats immune systems mature fully at 6 months. If a modified live virus (MLV) vaccine is given after 6 months of age, it produces immunity, which is good for the life of the pet (i.e., canine distemper, parvo, feline distemper). If another MLV accine is given a year later, the antibodies from the first vaccine neutralize the antigens of the second vaccine and there is little or no effect. The titer is not 'boosted' nor are more memory cells induced."
"Not only are annual boosters for parvo and distemper unnecessary, they subject the pet to potential risks of allergic reactions and immune-mediated hemolytic anemia. There is no scientific documentation to back up label claims for annual administration of MLV vaccines. Puppies receive antibodies through their mothers milk. This natural protection can last 8-14 weeks. Puppies and kittens should NOT be vaccinated at LESS than 8 weeks. Maternal immunity will neutralize the vaccine and little protection (0-38%) will be produced. Vaccination at 6 weeks will, however, delay the timing of the first highly effective vaccine. Vaccinations given 2 weeks apart suppress rather than stimulate the immune system. A series of vaccinations is given starting at 8 weeks and given 3-4 weeks apart up to 16 weeks of age. Another vaccination given sometime after 6 months of age (usually at 1 year 4 months) will provide lifetime immunity."