April 29, 2010

We have a new number for animal welfare complaints in New Zealand.

As a practising veterinarian in New Zealand I have received a  new fridge magnet which I have put up in my office... as the filign cabinet is the only metal I have around to stick it to...
but I wanted to let you know that anyone can use this number.

Last year the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry (MAF) established a new phone number to use for reporting any suspected animal welfare offences - 0800 00 83 33. The new number also deals with all nationwide general MAF enquiries.

The new number is part of work underway at MAF to make it easier for the general public and
stakeholders to get in touch. For veterinarians, the concern they are reporting to MAF may be
about the animal of a client who has failed, and continues to fail, to follow their advice in terms of
mitigation of suffering. Or it may be about animals that, while not under the direct care of a veterinarian,
are believed to have compromised welfare or be suffering unreasonable or unnecessary pain or distress.

Animal Welfare Inspectors (from MAF or SPCA) rely upon information received in order
to investigate complaints. They do have the power to prosecute, but the first approach in all but the
most serious situations is normally educative. As such, their role can be seen as complementary to the
professional role of veterinarians, as stated in the Code of Professional Conduct, of preventing and relieving
animal suffering.
So, at last, you can use it if you are worried about animals you are seeing... including livestock.

April 28, 2010

Note from a Dog

I didn;t write this... but thought it should be shared...

When I was a puppy, I entertained you with my antics and made you laugh.

You called me your child, and despite a number of chewed shoes and a couple of murdered throw pillows, I became your best friend. Whenever I was "bad," you'd shake your finger at me and ask, "How could you?" -- but then you'd relent and roll me over for a belly rub.

My housebreaking took a little longer than expected, because you were terribly busy, but we worked on that together. I remember those nights of nuzzling you in bed and listening to your confidences and secret dreams, and I believed that life could not be any more perfect.

We went for long walks and runs in the park, car rides, stops for ice cream (I only got the cone because "ice cream is bad for dogs" you said), and I took long naps in the sun waiting for you to come home at the end of the day.

Gradually, you began spending more time at work and on your career, and more time searching for a human mate. I waited for you patiently, comforted you through heartbreaks and disappointments, never chided you about bad decisions, and romped with glee at your homecomings, and when you fell in love.

She, now your wife, is not a "dog person" -- still I welcomed her into our home, tried to show her affection, and obeyed her. I was happy because you were happy. Then the human babies came along and I shared your excitement. I was fascinated by their pinkness, how they smelled, and I wanted to mother them, too. Only she and you worried that I might hurt them, and I spent most of my time banished to another room, or to a dog crate.

Oh, how I wanted to love them, but I became a "prisoner of love." As they began to grow, I became their friend. They clung to my fur and pulled themselves up on wobbly legs, poked fingers in my eyes, investigated my ears, and gave me kisses on my nose. I loved everything about them and their touch -- because your touch was now so infrequent -- and I would've defended them with my life if need be. I would sneak into their beds and listen to their worries and secret dreams, and together we waited for the sound of your car in the driveway.

There had been a time, when others asked you if you had a dog, that you produced a photo of me from your wallet and told them stories about me. These past few years, you just answered "yes" and changed the subject. I had gone from being "your dog" to "just a dog," and you resented every expenditure on my behalf. Now, you have a new career opportunity in another city, and you and they will be moving to an apartment that does not allow pets. You've made the right decision for your "family," but there was a time when I was your only family.

I was excited about the car ride until we arrived at the animal shelter. It smelled of dogs and cats, of fear, of hopelessness. You filled out the paperwork and said, "I know you will find a good home for her." They shrugged and gave you a pained look. They understand the realities facing a middle-aged dog, even one with "papers." You had to pry your son's fingers loose from my collar, as he screamed, "No, Daddy! Please don't let them take my dog!" And I worried for him, and what lessons you had just taught him about friendship and loyalty, about love and responsibility, and about respect for all life.

You gave me a good-bye pat on the head, avoided my eyes, and politely refused to take my collar and leash with you. You had a deadline to meet and now I have one, too. After you left, the two nice ladies said you probably knew about your upcoming move months ago and made no attempt to find me another good home. They shook their heads and asked, "How could you?"

They are as attentive to us here in the shelter as their busy schedules allow. They feed us, of course, but I lost my appetite days ago. At first, whenever anyone passed my pen, I rushed to the front, hoping it was you that you had changed your mind -- that this was all a bad dream... or I hoped it would at least be someone who cared, anyone who might save me. When I realized I could not compete with the frolicking for attention of happy puppies, oblivious to their own fate, I retreated to a far corner and waited.

I heard her footsteps as she came for me at the end of the day, and I padded along the aisle after her to a separate room. A blissfully quiet room. She placed me on the table and rubbed my ears, and told me not to worry. My heart pounded in anticipation of what was to come, but there was also a sense of relief. The prisoner of love had run out of days. As is my nature, I was more concerned about her. The burden which she bears weighs heavily on her, and I know that, the same way I knew your every mood. She gently placed a tourniquet around my foreleg as a tear ran down her cheek. I licked her hand in the same way I used to comfort you so many years ago. She expertly slid the hypodermic needle into my vein. As I felt the sting and the cool liquid coursing through my body, I lay down sleepily, looked into her kind eyes and murmured, "How could you?"

Perhaps because she understood my dog speak, she said, "I'm so sorry." She hugged me, and hurriedly explained it was her job to make sure I went to a better place, where I wouldn't be ignored or abused or abandoned, or have to fend for myself -- a place of love and light so very different from this earthly place. And with my last bit of energy, I tried to convey to her with a thump of my tail that my "How could you?" was not directed at her.

It was directed at you, My Beloved Master, I was thinking of you. I will think of you and wait for you forever. May everyone in your life continue to show you so much loyalty.

New Research on Veterinary Suicide Rate

I had a chat yesterday with a vet nurse that I used to work with many years ago in a distant New Zealand city. We both now work in Christchurch, but we spent some time reminiscing on the alcoholism and erratic behaviour of a past boss, and some of the other cases we have heard of concerning drugs and depression... all seemed quite normal, if sad. Today I read my copy of the latest NZ Veterinary Council Newsbrief... and found this information, which struck a particular chord after yesterday's chat!

A new paper in a recent issue of Veterinary Record by D J Bartram and D S Baldwin, finds that veterinary surgeons in the United Kingdom are four times as likely as the general public, and around twice as likely as other healthcare professionals, to die by suicide as opposed to other causes.

The paper ‘Veterinary surgeons and suicide: a structured review of possible influences on increased risk’ appears in the Veterinary Record, March 27 2010 pp 388-397.

The paper suggests that a complex interaction of possible mechanisms may occur across the course of a veterinary career to increase the risk of suicide. Possible factors include the characteristics of individuals entering the profession, negative effects during undergraduate training, work-related stressors, ready access to and knowledge of means, stigma associated with mental illness, professional and social isolation, and alcohol or drug misuse (mainly prescription drugs to which the profession has ready access). Contextual effects such as attitudes to death and euthanasia, formed through the profession’s routine involvement with euthanasia of companion animals and slaughter of farm animals, and suicide ‘contagion’ due to
direct or indirect exposure to suicide of peers within this small profession are other possible influences.

No similar research has been done here, but the Council’s Health Committee considers that the same risk factors exist in New Zealand.

Veterinary science by its very nature can expose its practitioners to a greater number of stressors and hazards than those encountered by the rest of the community. Stresses include the physical demands of the work, long hours, fatigue and sleep deprivation, debt, the demands of clients and external bodies and fear of litigation and complaints. Being able to manage the complex act of euthanasia of animals and accompanying grief management presents additional demands.

Veterinarians are also vulnerable to the same physical and psychological disorders as the rest of the community. These disorders occur in veterinarians just as often as in the general population and some such as suicide, alcohol and drug abuse and accidents occur more frequently.

It is therefore not surprising that some veterinarians are working under some degree of impairment. If professional help is not sought, it is often just a matter of time before serious problems occur.

There is help in New Zealand on identifying and managing stress.

and some brochures:

Vets in Stress brochure - an excellent read, whatever your stress is caused by!

and in the UK - check out http://www.vetlife.org.uk/about/

I wrote about the impact of burnout and animal euthanasia last year too - http://fourpawsandwhiskers.blogspot.com/2009/07/animal-euthanasia-and-human-emotional.html

It is an issue we are very aware of when training veterinary nurses here and one of our techniques is to role play scenarios for dealing with animal euthanasia, angry clients, and level of involvement, to name a few topics. I am pleased to see that veterinary training is also using this technique to help graduates manage these issues...

Practice Imperfect

Using interactive theatre in veterinary education to promote mental health awareness
According to Justin Schamotta, Uk Vet students are being warned of the risks:
Predisposition to Suicide Unclear

The predisposing factors are not clearly understood and it is probable that the selection process for veterinary school results in students with a high-risk profile. The course itself doesn't help either. In a presentation to the Veterinary Benevolent Fund, Dr. Jerry Lucke suggests that the demanding teaching programme, exclusion of social skills and self-awareness and the transition from security of the vet school to the business of practice all play a part. "The concern is real about suicide," he says. "The profession and the undergraduate students must understand the risks."

US equine journalist Candy Lawrence, author of Shock Central: Veterinarian Suicides agrees: "Veterinarians are minimally trained, if at all, in psychological issues to cope with the emotional states of their human clients. During vet school, little is addressed in terms of juggling financial aspects of running a practice or anything outside of the technical core complexities of clinical veterinary medicine."

Read more at Suite101: UK Veterinary Students Warned of Suicide Risk: Undergraduate Vets Embark on Potentially Fatal Career http://universities.suite101.com/article.cfm/veterinary_students_warned_of_suicide_risk#ixzz0mL6qIplY

From http://www.samaritans.org/media_centre/emotional_health_news/vets-likely-suicide-051.aspx

In a blog for the Telegraph, professional veterinarian Pete Wedderburn writes: "Thirteen suicides every year may not sound like a high number on a national scale, but when they happen in a small group like the veterinary profession, it's very significant."

According to the study, one of the main factors which may explain why suicide rates among this group are relatively high is the fact that many vets will know, or know of, a fellow vet who has died by suicide.

The report states: "Knowledge of individual suicides can travel readily through the social networks of a small profession.

"Direct or indirect exposure to the suicidal behaviour of others can influence attitudes and increase vulnerability to suicide."
Another key point identified by the researchers is that vets are routinely obliged to put down animals. This, they claim, not only gives them increased access to items such as lethal drugs and firearms (for the euthanasia of larger animals), but could also result in veterinarians becoming hardened to death.

In the Veterinary Record, they state: "Familiarity with death and dying may affect attitudes in regard to the expendability of life."

They add that this familiarity may make it easier for vets to detach themselves from the emotional impact of death, and thus begin to view suicide as a valid "solution to their own problems."

The researchers also found that many people entering the veterinary profession possess the personality traits of high academic achievers, which can include neuroticism and perfectionism – both of which are risk factors for suicide.

another factor is that the means to help is always at hand... whether it is sharp tools, euthanasia solutions, or "helpers" in the form of valium, pethidine, morphine or ketamine....

"There doesn't seem to be an awareness that there is help out there for them."

She also said that there was a "stigma" attached to mental health issues.

To cope with the stresses, Dr Richmond said vets mainly turned to alcohol and drugs - including injecting horse tranquiliser ketamine, which they have ready access to.

"That's part of the problem - they are not having to go out and find it in any devious or dishonest way.

"It's sitting there on the shelves looking at them."

Which brings me back to the vet I used to work for... using alcohol to blot out the pain we never identified.
We can all help the professions, whether doctors, dentists, lawyers, vets or nurses... and the people we work with, by looking into why they are drinking or seem angry, erratic or upset.

But spare a thought for the staff who are putting your precious animal to sleep or losing it despite their best efforts, or you can no longer pay for them to do what they want to in order to save the pet.
Or just because you no longer want it.......

April 27, 2010

Arthritis treatment for dogs - Stem Cell Therapy....,.

Certianly an even mroe exciting prospect if this gives hope to people too!
You can look here for more information:
Stem Cell therapy for dogs - now available in NZ
AdiCell for your dog's joint pain - Treating arthritis with your dog’s own healing cells
Pet Doctors is excited to announce that in partnership with Regeneus Australia, we are now performing the exciting new AdiCell™ treatment. AdiCell™ can offer hope for an improved quality of life to the thousands of New Zealand dogs affected by degenerative joint disease.
AdiCell™ is an advanced yet simple treatment for your dog's osteoarthritis. It uses your dog’s own fat cells to heal an arthritic joint, such as a hip or knee. It is a safe procedure that puts to work your pet’s natural regeneration system. Think of these cells as your dog's own emergency repair kit.
To date results have been excellent and the improvement in mobility is significant. AdiCell-treated dogs are healthier and lead more active lives without drugs.
To find out more about the treatment, visit the Adicell website.
You can also watch a real life example of Adicell treatment on YouTube,

or view this Australian TV news item.

April 19, 2010

Auckland Zoo Don't Palm Us Off - your part in preventing extinction and human disease

Don't Palm Us Off

Don't Palm Us Off

You probably already know that man's relentless pursuit of palm oil is resulting in the burning of the rain forests in South East Asia - in fact Indonesia loses an area of forest the size of Wales every year. The Orang-utan and Sumatran Tiger species are already on the verge of extinction in Sumatra.

To meet the target for Britain alone, to raise the percentage level of biofuel sold there, will result in millions of acres of these forests being logged or burnt down and converted to more plantations for palm oil production, although the increase in carbon emissions as a result of the burning will potentially outway the reduction in fuel emissions!.

There are other issues that are not reported as widely.... the veterinary world is aware that 75% of the world's new emerging diseases are infectious from animals to humans... more than ever there is a huge need for discussion between vets, doctors and biosecurity agencies to consider how to stop new diseases occurring.

Here is just one example of how a fatal disease was potentially spread as a result of the burning of the rain forests.......

The burning of over 12 million acres of virgin forest in Borneo and Sumatra in the fall of 1997 cast an extreme haze over a huge swath of Southeast Asia for months. That haze blocked sunlight, reducing the ability of trees to flower and bear fruit. This caused giant bats to travel great distances in search of sustenance. They settled on fruit trees fertilized with the manure of pigs on huge Malaysian farms cut out of the forests where the so-called flying foxes roost.

Somehow, the theory goes, the bats then passed the virus to the pigs who -- because of physiological and genetic similarities to humans -- amplified its potency and began infecting people in contact with them.

To some conservationists and scientists, there would be a dark poetic justice in a disease passed to man from an animal endangered by man's encroachment on its treetop environment. "In the case of almost every emerging disease, complex human changes to the environment drive emergence," says Dr. Peter Daszak, a parasitologist and executive director of the consortium that organized the study. "Nipah appears to be a case of the bats getting some payback."
and you can read mroe about it here:

One small way you can help?
Check out this site at the Auckland Zoo - "Don't Palm us Off".

Spread the word and sign the petition - to promote awareness of the effects of the palm oil industry... and encourage a change of food labelling requirements to ensure that the words vegetable oil do not mislead us to purchase any products containing palm oil... Cadbury's have stopped using it - public pressure can make a difference.

We owe it to the species we are driving to extinction... and to the people who could die from the diseases we are exposing to new places!

Thank you

Posted via web from Four Paws and Whiskers

April 18, 2010

Jess.... the tagger

I have left my mark...
Wet paint means nothing to me....

Your barriers ... I spit on them... they are as nothing in my way...

You think I did it?

No..... not me.... I could never do that!!

You don't believe me???????

I have an idea .....

It was her!!!!

April 16, 2010

Octopus flees with camera

Amazing footage of a kleptomaniac octopus..... while the camera keeps rolling!
He was lucky to get it back!
Particularly like the later fottage of the octopus up close when he retrieves the camera - not something you see every day :)

Posted via web from Four Paws and Whiskers

April 14, 2010

The Animal Odd Couple

I am always interested in how animals can make friends across species... this is worth a look.

Posted via web from Four Paws and Whiskers

"Cream Puff", a rescued albino hedgehog

They say that 1 in 10,000 hedgehogs are born albino... and they struggle to survive in the wild. I have never seen one! But this is a lovely article and video on this rescued one.

Also pleased to hear this man is feeding it on cat food - which suits them best... not sure I agree with the vet quoted in the article saying to use milk - I have always believed milk causes them digestive upsets - probably safer to stick with canned cat foods... or a few biscuits, or just worms and snails.
We used to see a lot of sick hedgehogs up north. Often it was slug bait poisoning.. which is one reason I don;t use it anymore. They are also prone to ringworm. Drought also affects them and we always put water down for them overnight.

Have you heard of St Tiggywinkles Wildlife Hospital in England?
They do a great job - have a look at their site :) Nice of them to name it after the Beatrix Potter character...

Posted via web from Four Paws and Whiskers

April 11, 2010

A syringe of milk for an orphaned red squirrel

I would love to do this!
Reared foals, lambs, calves, kittens and puppies, even seen a whole litter of rats hand reared.... tried birds, with little success, but this makes me want to be a part of it...
Great job :)

Posted via web from Four Paws and Whiskers

April 9, 2010

Magical photos capture the first moments of life....

It has been a good week for eggs... as long as they have been chocolate ones!! I hope you all had a great Easter. I am just sorry that for us down here, winter is fast approaching and a current cold snap and the darker evenings since daylight saving finished have meant I am dragging out stored winter clothes, down quilts, and actually turning on heaters and electric blankets... sigh. However, I am still pleased that spring is well under way for all those of you "up there", as it feels like you have had a very long winter!
I love these photos of different birds and a tortoise appearing from their eggs.... well worth a look :)

April 7, 2010

30 Funny Print Ads that’ll Make You Laugh | Inspiration

There are a lot of good ads on this site, sent to me by my son today... and many of them relating to animals. This one made me smile - we regularly have Barks in the Park here...

Thanks James :)

Posted via web from Four Paws and Whiskers

Tina Humphrey - Dressage for Dogs

Some things just bring tears to my eyes.... and after years doing dog obedience and watching my daughter do dressage with her horse, seeing the two combined was fascinating.
If you want to see more, do go and follow this up on youtube as there are lots more of this pair in action.
If you have never watched freestyle horse dressage... then watch this astounding pair in action - sadly, this beautiful dancing mare, who was retired in 2009, broke her leg recently and has been put to sleep. RIP Blue Hors Matine.

April 6, 2010

Service Dogs for Iraq and returning soldiers.....

Stephen Crowley/The New York Times

The dogs learn to fetch, turn lights on and off and even dial 911.

Stephen Crowley/The New York Times

At the Mid-Orange Correctional Facility in Warwick, N.Y., service dogs share a room with the prisoners who help train them.

I always appreciate reading about the way dogs can be used to help people in need. We all know about Guide Dogs, and the increasing numbers of dogs trained to help in areas such as epilepsy dogs, those that are ears for the deaf, and those used for security in the police, or detection of explosives, smuggled food and drugs at borders.
Today I read two articles about how dogs are helping with the troops in Iraq and soldiers returning home.

This one deals with "Post Traumatic Stress Disorder", which causes a range of problems, particularly symptoms like anxiety, depression and inability to leave the house. Many people returning from Iraq and Afghanistan have developed the disorder.

"In dozens of interviews, veterans and their therapists reported drastic reductions in P.T.S.D. symptoms and in reliance on medication after receiving a service dog."
I particularly like the fact that many of these dogs are being trained by prisoners as part of the "Puppies Behind Bars" program.

The other article covered an explosive detection dog...
Everywhere I look these days I am hearing about IED's or improvised explosive devices, so I was pleased to read that there are now a number of dogs working to detect these. This article features the dog, Chocolat, being used to detect the materials used to create these in the local shops.... saving the lives of many soldiers.

I will try to embed the video below ....
If it doesn't work - just go to this link to see it and read more :

Posted via web from Four Paws and Whiskers


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