This is something that somewhat came up in my last post, and over the last week at work, but it just hit home for me. How should you treat an uncontrollable animal? Cats can be crazy, toy dogs can be angry, gun dogs hunt, and large breeds can kill with a single bite. I realize that not all animals are uncontrollable, and I know that the best of animals can simply have their days, but when do you as an owner draw the line? When do the authorities have the right to step in?
In the past week two things have happened that makes me ask this. One was the case of dog killing cat (both were owned by the same person.) The other thing is my uncle's dog was killed by an unknown dog. We had several discussions on what you do when it is your animal that did something last week. If it were my dog that killed ANY cat I would have a lot of difficulty restraining myself. In fact I am sorry to say that I don't think I could. My mom was just telling me about how the dogs they had for a while would go and kill the neighboring chickens, so they got the bright idea to tie the chicken around the dog's neck as punishment. This didn't work of course, as soon as the rotting chicken came off the dog's neck within days it would go kill another one. I only know a little bit about obedience, and how you need to catch an animal in the act in order to use negative reinforcement, but I think I would still punish the dog regardless. I am completely aware that it is in their nature to do such things, but honestly I don't think I would have even a wink of guilt about punishing an animal for doing such a thing.
I can not even begin to think of what I would do to a dog who killed another dog, or a cat someone owned, or bit a child. There is no specific law that delegates if a dog should be restricted to a yard and house, or put down. Some states have dangerous animal laws where you have to do things like register your dog, and confine them with signs posted unless they are on a leash. Like I said before I know that not all bad breeds are bad dogs. I have met some of the sweetest Pit Bulls and Rottweilers, but those two breeds are the top two breeds responsible for canine homicide, and some of the dogs that have killed were reported to have never attacked prior to the incident. It seems fair to me that there at least be some laws regarding most breeds, at the very least to inform the owner of what their rights are just in case. But only 15 to 20 people are killed annually by dogs, so it is very rare, and I am not in any way advocating strong restrictions on large breeds or their owners, as I don't think that would be fair either.
One other thing that this made me wonder about is can you as a bystander defend a dog? The people who live near my uncle came out with baseball bats to chase these dogs out. If they had done anything to the dogs they would have been held responsible though. Kinda makes sense, but I rather think it stinks. Only in certain states could you kill a dog who is harming your animal, and it seems that most places it depends on the animal. This is one area however, where I am somewhat more understanding. I mean, if the people who saw the Rottweilers kill the dog were able to kill them too, then two owners would be devastated. I rather hope the the owner of the Rotts probably has enough to think about. I don't know. I rather think that if my dog did something that drastic, I would probably have to have them put down.


Working in the Service Industry

One of the difficult things about working in an Animal Clinic is that the pets brought in are often like their children. But there is a huge difference between a child misbehaving and an animal misbehaving. Imagine being a kindergarten teacher, of course you have a few students every year that are the bullies, that may bite or kick another child. Of course you can talk to the parents about this behavior, and you can also give them an honest evaluation (and let their future teachers know about your experiences with the kid) in the form of grades. Sometimes the parents will just blow you off, thinking that their child either isn't actually like that, or that the behavior is completely acceptable.
Now think of that kindergarten kid as a 100 pound dog, or worse a 30 pound crazy paranoid one. Now imagine not being able to give the parents any sort of evaluation. Even if the thing bites you this is something that we are not suppose to tell the owner. I really appreciate the owners who know if their animal has a history of biting, or just know that the animal can be difficult and are straight forward in telling us. I think the ones who insist that Teddy did not destroy his bed, because he never behaves like that at home are pretty funny (there is a reason we try to keep at least some of the shredded remains.) The owners that drive me up the wall though, are the ones who seem to think it is cute when their animal becomes aggressive toward us, and blame everything on us.
Okay, I admit not only does the giving them shots not help at all, but sometimes the animal might just hate one person in particular, or a group. Some dogs hate men because they were beaten by a man when they were little, or they will just hate one person in the whole clinic, unfortunately with those cases some times we figure out the trends after the fact. I really appreciate the owners who tell us their animals habits, it helps to make my job much easier.

This post was edited for content on 10/6/06. It became too specific, and was rather unfair to someone I have gotten to know better.


Fat Cat

Okay, so this won't be entirely about a fat cat, but fat animals in general. If you think your kitty with the jiggle draggy belly is overweight, you may be right, but you are not necessarily the owner who your vet is the most concerned about. Lately I have seen several cats that don't have a belly, their entire body is not just thick, but like a large deflated football, or like a bag of flour. These cats are fat.
Today we got a dog, I forget the breed, but it's one of those short long dogs with the stubby legs that already looks malformed without any extra help. This dog was fed table scraps and junk like that. The man who brought it in described the dog as belonging in a circus sideshow. He was completly right. This dog didn't just look overweight or fat, it looked like a bloated balloon. he was a cartoonists dream, the real life depiction of these crazy looking dogs.


The Animal Clinic

I noticed the other day that the clinic where I work is usually a very plesant place. Most people come in smiling because they are bringing their animals in for an annual check up (although those faces occasionally change when I read off the cost of their visit.) Mostly the clinic feels like a happy place, perky animals, smiling staff, and clients who love to just sit and talk with our vets. Yesterday we had two of our stray kittens adopted also, so that created even more smiles. But of course like any hospital it is impossible to have all smiles.

I was thinking about how for the vast majority of the time we have animals coming in the client would be happy, but it is those last visits that are the hardest, and they really are heartbreaking. Sometimes you get to know the animal and the client really well because they are coming in at least once a week, and other times an owner will walk in who we have seen a few years before to put an animal down. I worked with a doctor to put an animal down for the first time the other day. Other staff members at the clinic often will try to avoid watching the animal as they die, or after they die, and I can understand why. I don't think it is something that you ever get use to. Regardles of the age of the animal, or even if they have a bad attitude, or if you aren't even familiar with the animal it seems sad every single time.