In Praise of Veterinarians

There are four words that every pet owner hears throughout their life: “Talk to your vet.”

April 30 is World Veterinary Day, so this week’s episode of “Wag of the Tale” is dedicated to the men and (increasingly) women who heal animals: veterinarians.


Pets & Their Celebrities

  • Arya Stark (Maisie Williams)

The Dodo: “‘Game of Thrones’ Star Shows It’s Way Better To Adopt Than Shop”

The 18-year-old actress revealed in her Instagram post that she adopted Sonny just after Christmas from RSPCA Bristol Dogs and Cats in the U.K. She’s a big supporter of #AdoptDontShop for pets in shelters in need of forever families.
  • Jon Stewart & Farm Sanctuary

Mother Nature Network: “Tracey and Jon Stewart are expanding their animal rescue farm” (4/20/16)

Farm Sanctuary: “Jon and Tracey Stewart Partner with Farm Sanctuary to Open Fourth Location in New Jersey” (Oct. 2015)

The Free Thought Project: “Jon Stewart Quits Comedy, Starts Animal Sanctuary to Rescue Abused Factory Farm Animals”

Stewart has consistently been an animal welfare advocate on his show, once devoting a comedy segment to the foolishness of New Jersey Governor Chris Christie’s refusal to sign a bill that would end the lifelong confinement of pigs in crates too small for them to turn around.
Tracey Stewart is known for her advocacy on animal rights, recently publishing a book on the topic. …
“I’m a little uncomfortable. I’ve spent the last 20 years immersed in the world of Washington politics and the media landscape, so I don’t know how to deal necessarily with people who have empathy,” [Jon] Stewart told the all-vegan banquet at The Plaza Hotel in New York.

MotherBoard: “Why Jon Stewart’s Family Decided to Open an Animal Sanctuary”

from Disney’s “The Jungle Book” (2016)

from Disney’s “Jungle Book” (2016)

Bare Necessities

National Geographic: “How Much Do You Know About the Real ‘Jungle Book’ Animals?”

Mowgli’s adventures have been retold time and again in animated films, television shows, plays, and now a partly live-action Disney feature.
But while the universal tale of friendship, belonging, and community remains steadfast, the state of the animals Kipling featured has not. Even a century ago, the author was concerned with the human impact on nature, and many of the animals he described are now threatened with extinction. Here’s what you should know about the real-life versions of The Jungle Book gang.

Finding Nemo. Got cyanide?

Some of the fish species in “Finding Nemo” and the forthcoming sequel “Finding Dory” — like the clown fish (Nemo) and blue tang (Dory) — are caught in the real world using an illegal and harmful practice: cyanide fishing. The practice is banned but enforcement is difficult, and in the waters of southeast Asia, an underground trade is flourishing, fueled by growing demand from expensive restaurants in Asia and aquariums around the world.

Not only do most of the fish die before reaching either tank or table, but the practice devastates the coral reefs where these species live.

Pet Product News: “Is the Aquatics Industry Ready for Dory?”

Scientific American: “How Dangerous Is It to Use Cyanide to Catch Fish?”

Advanced Aquarist: “A new, fast, non-lethal method for cyanide detection in marine fish. Is it a game changer?”

Wikipedia: “Cyanide fishing”

World Wildlife Fund: “Cyanide: an easy but deadly way to catch fish”

Mother Nature Network: “Meet the real animals behind ‘Finding Dory’”

Coffee, tea & prickles

On “Wag of the Tale” I’ve talked about cat cafés and dog cafés, but here’s a new one:

Mother Nature Network: “Hedgehog cafe seeks to soften prickly reputation”

If you’re planning to visit Tokyo anytime soon, you can find out at the recently opened hedgehog cafe, Harry. The cafe gets its name from the Japanese word for hedgehog, harinezumi. “Hari” means needle. …
Animal cafes aren’t new to Tokyo, a city that boasts cafes dedicated to cats, rabbits, owls, hawks and even snakes. But this is the first hedgehog cafe, and its owners are hoping the concept will introduce customers to the sweet side of these spunky pets.

SEGMENT 1 — April 30 is World Veterinary Day

World Veterinary Day was created by the World Veterinary Association (WVA) in 2000, and in 2008 the WVA and the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) agreed to create a World Veterinary Day Award to reward the contributions of the veterinary profession to society.

This year’s theme: “Continuing Education with a One Health Focus”

World Veterinary Association: “World Veterinary Day Award 2016–30 April 2016”

World Organization for Animal Health: “World Veterinary Day Award 2016”

Veterinarians play a crucial role in protecting global health. In all areas of the profession, they have opportunities and responsibilities to improve the health and welfare of animals, and therefore, to improve the health of humans.
In the current era of globalisation, the emergence or re-emergence of unexpected sanitary events is accelerating. It is estimated that five new emerging infectious human diseases appear each year, of which three are zoonotic. The recent Ebola epidemic as well as the too numerous human deaths caused each year by rabies, dreadfully remind us of the strong links existing between the health of people, animals and environment and consequently the need for multi-sectoral approaches illustrated through the ‘One Health’ concept.
All countries depend on the performance of their national Veterinary Services, in their public and private components, not only to successfully control these diseases, but also to tackle food safety issues and to effectively prevent and control any biological disasters. Therefore, veterinarians should be well trained to preserve animal health and welfare, as well as to tackle public health issues. …
Therefore, this year, the WVD’s theme focuses on how veterinarians continue their education efforts to increase their expertise on One Health topics, such as zoonotic diseases, food safety or antimicrobial resistance, and how they collaborate with the human health sector to tackle these issues.

“Zoonotic” refers to diseases that normally exist in animals but can be transmitted to people. Think SARS, rabies, Ebola, West Nile virus.

The World Veterinary Association represents more than half a million veterinarians around the world on 6 continents: “We work to promote animal health, animal welfare, and public health globally with the understanding that human, animal, and environmental health are intricately interconnected, through food, infectious and zoonotic diseases, research to improve human and animal lives, encroachment on wildlife habitat, and the human-animal bond that has existed throughout time.”

SEGMENT 2 — Vet School

Vet School on NatGeoTV

NatGeoTV: “Vet School Facts”

Association of American Veterinary Medical Colleges

For most of the 20th century, society viewed veterinary medicine primarily as an animal health medical discipline. In recent years, highly publicized public health threats like pandemic influenza have helped many realize the fundamental linkages between veterinary medicine and human health.
Veterinary medicine plays a critical role in promoting the bounty, safety and security of the food supply, helps protect the public from zoonotic infectious diseases, and contributes to important biomedical research.

AVMA: “Veterinary School Admission 101”

“Contagion” (2011)

Watch “Contagion” on

SEGMENT 3 — James Herriot Centenary

James Herriot (Oct. 3, 1916 — Feb. 23, 1995)
“Making Flop Bott a Household Word Since 2002” (tagline of official website)

Wikipedia: James Herriot

Owing in part to professional etiquette, which at that time frowned on veterinary surgeons and other professionals from advertising their services, he took a pen name, choosing “James Herriot” after seeing the Scottish goalkeeper Jim Herriot play for Birmingham City in a televised game against Manchester United. …
Contrary to popular belief, Wight’s books are only partially autobiographical, with many of the stories being only loosely based on real events or people. Wight’s son, Jim, states that a lot of the stories, although set in the 1930s, 1940s or 1950s in the books, were actually inspired by cases that Wight attended in the 1960s and 1970s.
From a historical standpoint, the stories help document a transitional period in the veterinary industry; agriculture was moving from the traditional use of beasts of burden (in Britain, primarily the draught horse) to reliance upon the mechanical tractor and medical science was just on the cusp of discovering the antibiotics and other drugs that eliminated many of the ancient remedies still in use. These and other sociological factors, like increased affluence, prompted a large-scale shift in veterinary practice over the course of the 20th century; at its start, virtually all of a vet’s time was spent working with large animals: horses (motive power in both town and country), cattle, sheep, goats and pigs. By the year 2000, the majority of vets practised mostly on dogs, cats, and other pets belonging to a population having a larger disposable income, people who could afford, and had the leisure time, to keep animals merely for pleasure.

World of James Herriot: A visitor attraction in Thirsk, North Yorkshire, England

“All Creatures Great and Small” (BBC)
Starring: Christopher Timothy, Robert Hardy

Barnes & Noble: James Herriot books & DVDs

Thank You for Watching

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