Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Is Debarking Animal Cruelty?

Often performed on dogs to reduce the sound level of their barking does the veterinary surgical practice of debarking be considered animal cruelty? 

By: Ringo Bones 

The case against the controversial veterinary surgical procedure called debarking recently happened when a Westminster Dog Show prize winning dog died 4 days after winning prizes at the prestigious dog show due to complications incurred during a recent debarking procedure. Debarking - though controversial - is often performed on show dogs to reduce the noise level of their barking usually involves a qualified veterinary surgeon strategically poking holes in the dog’s vocal cords. 

During the past few years, debarking had been a point of contention of animal rights activists – like PETA – not only because it exposes dogs to unnecessary risky surgery which could result in death and / or painful complications but also show-dogs, even in prestigious dog shows such as the Westminster Dog Show, are often bred for good looks with utter disregard to the animal’s long-term health and well-being. And it is not only dog shows that promote unnecessary debarking, some gated communities only allow households to keep debarked dogs on their premises. 

Should the cruel practice of debarking be outlawed? Well, some petitions and campaigns are already out on various social media sites like Facebook but only time will tell when there’s enough of an outcry against debarking that this rather barbaric and unnecessary surgical procedure on dogs should be ended once and for all. 

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Cat Ownership In New Zealand: Not Economically Viable?

After a prominent New Zealand economist label them as “natural born killers” and therefore is a liability, is cat ownership no longer economically viable in the country of New Zealand?

By: Ringo Bones

Unless scientifically verifiable evidence to the contrary emerges, cats had been introduced by the first white European settlers in an otherwise cat-free land of what is now New Zealand about couple of centuries ago.  During their tenure, cats had lead to the extinction of 9 native bird species in New Zealand and have pushed other native fauna to the brink of extinction thus therefore are seen from an ecological perspective as an invasive species in New Zealand. But will a draconian measure of a prominent New Zealand economist of spaying and neutering cats and not replacing the ones left to allow them to gradually go extinct in New Zealand even be an “economically viable” option?

The rather draconian cat ban by Gareth Morgan, a prominent New Zealand economist who is now labeled as the “anti-kitty economist” by his detractors (mainly cat lovers and cat owners) proposes that by spaying and neutering stray cats and even cats with owners and allowing them to gradually die out is the most economically viable way to solve the native wildlife extinction problem in his country. Given that the New Zealand government had set aside large tracks of the country as a protected nature preserve and those outside the country have seen these via last series of movies by Peter Jackson – i.e. The Lord of the Rings trilogy and The Hobbit – is economist Gareth Morgan’s plan for a “cat extermination” the most economically viable way to solve New Zealand’s native species extinction problem? After all, tenured ecologists have since pointed out the three main threats to native wildlife all over the world are pollution, climate change due to excessive greenhouse gasses in the atmosphere causing global warming and an over encroaching human population into ecologically sensitive areas.

According to Bob Kerridge, president of the Royal New Zealand Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals says economist Gareth Morgan’s proposal is too cruel for New Zealand’s feline pets – economic viability or not. Even though being a prominent economist is not yet an elected position in New Zealand, Gareth Morgan could well kiss his future in New Zealand politics goodbye because cat lovers and cat owners in New Zealand won’t be voting him into public office anytime soon.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Man’s Best Friend: Man’s First Garbage Collector?

Recent genetic forensic evidence had shown that mankind started to domesticate dogs not as hunting buddies – but as garbage collectors?

By: Ringo Bones

During the start of the 21st Century, the National Geographic Society had shown evidence – via genetic science – on how humanity migrated out of that lush prehistoric savannah on the African continent for which we had evolved and migrated throughout every corner of the globe. And as of late, recent genetic studies of canis lupus familiaris – also known as the domestic dog – have shown that the domestication of man’s best friend is much more recent than previously thought.

Previously accepted conventional wisdom suggests that mankind first started domesticating the dog from captured wolf pups that are later trained to be hunting and foraging “assistants” about 30,000 years ago. But recent genetic forensic evidence obtained by the DNA analysis of the genetic material of dogs in a study recently conducted by Cambridge University suggests that the domestication of the dog occurred much more recently – about 11,000 years ago – about the same time when mankind discovered the rudiments of agriculture and started settling into large communities - a result that somewhat rewrites the domestication timeline of man’s best friend.

According to Dr. David Sargan of Cambridge University, the recent DNA-based findings suggest that wolf varieties that were better able to digest the starches found in wheat, barley and other grain crops first domesticated by mankind 11,000 or so years ago were the ones that gradually evolved into the present breeds of domestic dogs. For all intents and purposes, wolves first start to gradually evolve into dogs in the ancient garbage pits of the dawn of our agricultural society 11,000 years ago. The findings not only explain why dogs, until the present day, developed the taste for biscuits while their wolf cousins have never been partial to such treats. Does this mean that the real origin story of man’s best friend – the domestic dog - is rather mundane and somewhat a tad ignoble?