This cross-species empathy plays out in all sorts of odd and disturbing (to me) ways, especially in drug war stories. Often, it means that public outrage is highest not when living, breathing people are shot or killed but when exactly the same sort of violence happens to puppys. When cops or a SWAT team commit homicide, folks may or may not be outraged. But when cops or SWAT teams commit puppycide, the outrage blows through the roof. The upside of puppycide, which even has its own topic tag at Reason.com? It reaches a part of the public that otherwise doesn't get too riled up about violations of basic rights and common decency.
And with that as an intro, let me direct you to the next front in the drug war: Medical marijuana for dogs.
Look, it's one thing if grandma's head is pounding due to migraines and cataract pressure or if Biff can't choke down meals due to wasting syndrome, but it's a whole other story when Sampson the Rottweiler gets the runs due to cancer:
Christine stumbled upon a controversial homemade herbal remedy that she credits with enormously improving her dog's quality of life. She's grateful that, in his final year, Sampson weighed in at a robust 106 pounds and lived free of the wracking pain that had haunted him. Whereas before Sampson had been too weak to walk, almost overnight he became a born-again youngster. "He was a puppy again, happy and playful," Christine recalls. "He'd trot around the house with his toys in his mouth, wanting to play fetch!"
The name of the controversial herbal remedy Sampson took? Cannabis.
And yet, there are still vets who, just like doctors for humans, refuse to open their minds and their eyes to what's right in front of them. Don't they understand that most dogs aren't looking for a cheap high (not that there's anything wrong with that), they're just trying to do what works for them.
Despite mounting scientific evidence proving the herb's potent pain-relieving property - plus increasing anecdotal evidence from dog owners who've experimented with MM successfully - the veterinary mainstream wants cannabis weeded out, citing the risks of overdose and carcinogenic secondhand smoke.
As Ohio vet Neal J. Sivula explains, "I am very frustrated by veterinarians' seeming lack of interest in exploring this potentially very useful plant, Dr. Kramer being the exception. I am gathering that most veterinarians have not followed the changes in genetic strains of MM [medical marijuana]. Most think of MM only in terms of what might be purchased for illicit use and haven't done their research to know that strains have been developed with an eye toward pain control, nausea relief, and appetite stimulation with minimal reported side effects [in people]."
Although it's understandable why vets frown on sharing pot with pets for recreational purposes, when marijuana is administered orally via a tincture, in precise dosages prescribed by a vet with the goal of relieving unbearable pain, the smoke risk is eliminated, and the herb appears to do much more good than harm. Plus, cannabis doesn't adversely impact the liver, as many medications do. That's why, for every vet who opposes cannabis, there's another open to giving it a try - once it's legalized.
Hat Tip: Veronique de Rugy.