Friday, October 4, 2013

Pet-Lover or Pet-Centric-sociopath?

I use Twitter to tweet my thoughts, ideas, blog, and message many times a day. There is a whole sub culture of people who also use it and along the way I have made quite a few "virtual" friends. We swap tweets, chat, and learn about each others likes, dislikes, hobbies, interests, and we do all of this in less than 140 characters.

In my fast paced bustling day it is my news feed, chatter, and gossip fix for my ADD. (It isn't a big mystery why I am attracted to it as a source of information exchange).

Because so many people are voicing so many opinions I have learned to stick to the stuff I feel is relevant to my interests. Specifically, I have narrowed it down to pets. I try to follow (sincere point of angst with the decision making Twitter hierarchy who seemingly randomly block my ability to follow ALL of those I want) the vets, the clinics, animal vendors, distributors, government agencies, and (my favorite) regular normal people who are devoted to helping pets.There are soo many of these people out there. Add to that, the constant trickle of more and more people who join everyday.

It is my personal policy to be polite and follow all of those who follow me. Seems perfectly congenial. After all I live by the motto "do onto others.." When I follow back I take a few minutes to read their bio, look at their Facebook page, investigate their company and send a few words back to let them know I was there.

The huge majority of the Twitter crowd are people with pets, and a pet related purpose they are charging a course for. The pit bull lovers, cat fanciers, moms who can have a purpose for another outside of the confines of their homes, people who cook for pets, sell food and clothing for pets, the list goes on and on. It's a wonderful place to network.

Yesterdays company follow back received the following as my reply..

"Sorry. I went to your YouTube video and saw the cat "cruising the neighborhood" and had to turn back. So irresponsible it saddens me."

I quickly received the following reply.  "Sorry to hear that. Why?"

The video that I had seen was of a cat with a camera around its neck. The camera, and their companies shtick is to record all the cats comings and goings.

My problem with the video...well, this cat was in a city roaming. The cat walks out the back door of the home, jumps the small retaining wall and fence and makes his way through alleys, into other peoples yards, etc. etc. I was aghast.

So I sent a direct message back to them explaining my concerns.

What ensued was a back-and-forth exchange of why I would "want to inhibit the natural wants and desires of a cat?" And what recommendations I would have to "containing a cat?" I had to stop myself from screaming at them. It was a significant effort. Sprinkled with intermittent confessions about how much they "loved their cat."

Seemed to me that "their cat" was indeed "that cruising cat."

After many message exchanges, references from me mentioning Jackson Galaxy who recommends completely fencing in an area of the yard, or taking their cat for leash walks, I was left to reply that "I believe being a responsible person is a responsible pet caretaker, and asking/hoping/expecting a consumer to purchase a product that is mounted on their pet and then set free is not the best way to represent their product."

How many people are going to be watching video of their cat being hit by a car, shot, eaten by a predator, or trapped by animal control? Are these things you want to witness? I had to explain that as a veterinarian this is what I see in my patients who are allowed to roam.

Am I crazy?

Am I wasting my time trying to educate people about the dangers or letting your pet wander? Is it even legal where they live? And if I have to be begging a pet company that proclaims it wants "to help people understand the world according to pets" to give a shit is it all for naught?

If you have any questions about pet safety, or any other pet related items, including arguing for or against containment, responsible pet care, cat injuries, statistics, animal advocacy, or the very basic principles of how to market pet products to people who care enough about their pets to actually keep them safely at home, you can reach me on Twitter @FreePetAdvice. And for the record, if you ask me something you will get advice, it will be free, it will be honest AND in the best interest of your pet.


  1. I'm with you. Being somewhat new to blogging and the twitterverse as a vet, I sometimes am not sure what to do when I see some potentially dangerous information out there. I try and kindly comment pointing out the good and weak parts, providing helpful information where possible.

    In trying to be a part of this community I don't want to be alienating people or being ignorant of the fact that they are probably not the only person who thinks or feels that way, but it's frustrating knowing some of our clients may be reading that post and their pets getting hurt because of it.

    Any good way you've found to balance advocating for our patients when you see things like this but not alienating that community either?

    1. Hello!

      We are all trying to find the right way to spread our message, share our areas of expertise, and shape the world into what we believe it should look like. I get frustrated every single day, and there are some days I just want to throw the towel in and become a toll attendant.

      But then I remember all of the wonderful people who love their pets as much as I love my own, and how vital it is to be a part of someones story and their personal journey. And every once in a while I feel like maybe my little life on this big planet does make a difference for the better.

      I am presently using the strategy of picking my fights better. Not wasting time and energy on those who just want to suck my soul dry because they have none of their own (or so it appears).

      I have also learned that the carrot (and pen) is mightier than the stick and sword.

      So it appears to me that I should try to lead by example. And that asking others to be kind to their pet means that I have to be kind to all others.

      After all of that pontificating I am true to my internal moral compass, I try very hard to not regret anything that comes out of my mouth, or from the end of a syringe in my hand.

      And above all I have to believe that my job is to be the advocate for my patients before I am the servant to my client. It indicates I choose sides and I have to be ok with the consequences. It has landed my butt in front of the medical board, who disagree with my perspective.

      “Choosing to live your life by your own choice is the greatest freedom you will ever have. ..."

      I would guess that I probably don't have much of a balance, but damned if I don't have an excess of passion!

    2. I think you've got it right - at the end of the day you don't want to regret your decision whether it's how you said something or whether you said something or not.

      "And every once in a while I feel like maybe my little life on this big planet does make a difference for the better." - That's what keeps me going, especially through the hard days. I've got to think it's the excess passion that keeps us believing we can make a difference.

      Love your blog, thanks for putting good stuff out in the world.

  2. Hi Y'all!

    Seems some people, especially here in the rural south, think it is cruel to confine an animal behind a fence. Dogs wander along roads and I always wonder if they are strays, lost or just out for a stroll...and of course there are the not so road wise who end up like lots of deer and other wild road kill.

    I am unable to fence the yard at the mountain house because of the rock. We have a small area fenced to protect the house from falling cost a fortune to drill through rock and the company refused to fence a larger area. At the shore we are back on a point surrounded by water,, also with no fence...
    Periodically on the blog Hawk talks about learning boundaries. However, one thing he emphasizes is that he is never NEVER outside alone. A dog may know his boundaries but if a person he respects is not there to keep reinforcing and correcting attempts at "cheating" he'll soon be wandering. Somehow people think once their dog learns boundaries you can just open the door and let them out...You can't emphasize enough that "it doesn't work that way"...dogs are like kids, you can't trust them out of your sight.

    People just don't hear, or maybe don't want to hear...

    BrownDog's Human

    1. Hello!
      We all learn boundaries, but how much better to be under the loving watchful eye of a good friend, then by the misfortune of bad timing and ill intent.
      Dogs are just like kids! Two year olds..I hope that your neighbors don't let them roam free!
      Thank you for reading and for being such a great advocate for pet safety.