Popular Science Monthly/Volume 83/December 1913/The Protection of Domesticated Animals

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1580104Popular Science Monthly Volume 83 December 1913 — The Protection of Domesticated Animals1913Veranus Alva Moore




ALTHOUGH we depend to a large degree upon lower animals for food and clothing, the necessity for their protection and the best methods of caring for them do not seem to be fully appreciated. If the Biblical statement concerning the creation is accepted as it is usually interpreted, namely, that man is the foreordained master over dumb creation, our responsibility for its protection is clear. Starting from early time, it is easy to understand that as the human family multiplied it came to require, as it does to-day, a large part of the earth's surface for its activities, thereby exterminating some species of animals and forcing others from a life of natural independence in forest and plain to one dependent upon the action of man. In the evolution of civilization the animals that were needed by the human family were subjected to conditions of life foreign to their original existence and to some extent contrary to their natural instincts. Thus they have been, for no fault of their own, driven from the freedom of the wild to become the property of man, to be bred, to be fed and housed, to be protected or maltreated according to the will of their owners. They are in a certain sense our slaves and must from their very nature continue as such. There is, however, a growing feeling that the hardships which often accompany their servitude should be lessened. There is a demand for their emancipation from the heartless treatment of cruel men. The spirit that is permeating the hearts of people relative to the humane treatment of animals was expressed in the somewhat homely statement of a negro in New Orleans when he first saw an electric car and was told that it came from Boston. "Law me! The Yankee came down and freed the 'niggers' and now he comes down and frees the mules."

An important element that exerts a strong influence toward the better care of dumb creation is a genuine affection which exists on the part of many people for their animals. The devotion of animals to their masters often touches the heart of man and impels him to a humane treatment of his charges. In caring for them it is well to remember that many of the kindest acts from the human standpoint are often out of harmony with the nature of the animals receiving such attention. This frequently results in disease, suffering and death where only health and physical comfort were intended. Many a lad caresses his dog and feeds it the best of his sweets without realizing how much the poor dog longs for a bone.

In pointing out the reasons why domesticated animals should have better treatment and in considering the means or methods of obtaining for them more complete and efficient protection it is necessary to take into account several somewhat distinct topics, namely:

1. The value of domesticated animals as servants of man and producers of food and clothing for the human family,
2. The sanitary significance of the diseases of animals communicable to man, and
3. The methods best adapted to afford them better conditions of life as determined by the accumulation of knowledge concerning their hygienic and physiological requirements.

If we consider the place animals actually occupy as servants of man and as factors in our economic and living conditions we shall at once recognize the necessity for their proper protection. The dog, ox and horse have served as the great burden bearers in nearly if not all the important industries that have to do with the production and distribution of food. This service will continue to be important. In 1873, when this country was swept with an epizootic among horses, commerce was paralyzed, crops were unharvested, and had this disease been of long duration much human suffering would have prevailed.

The value of animals in the food-producing and other industries can perhaps be best understood from a few statistics concerning the place of animals and animal products in agriculture. The agricultural products of New York state for 1911 were valued at $350,000,000 of which $141,000,000, or nearly two fifths, of the total was of animal origin. More than this, the hay and forage, which constitute one third of the vegetable products of the state, are valuable only because of animals. In Massachusetts, of the annual farm production of $59,000,000, $27,000,000 are credited to animals and dairy products. If we take the United States as a whole, we find that in 1910 the total annual income from agriculture was $8,500,000,000 of which $3,000,000,000, or more than 35 per cent., belongs to the animal kingdom.

It is difficult to appreciate the magnitude of the animal industry of this country. The last census report states that there were in the United States 24,148,580 horses; 61,803,866 cattle, of which 20,625,432 were milch cows; 52,447,861 sheep and lambs; 58.185,676 swine and 292,880,000 fowls. Although these numbers are large, the report shows a decrease since 1900 of 3,485,971 beef cattle, 8,011,326 sheep and 4,682,000 swine. There has been an increase in the number of dairy cows, horses and poultry. The total value of farm animals in 1910 was $5,296,422,000 or about 12 per cent, of the value of all farm property, including land, buildings and equipment ($40,991,000,000).

The report of the chief of the Bureau of Animal Industry shows that the federal meat inspectors in 1911 passed for food 52.776, 855 carcasses of cattle, sheep and swine. In addition to the fresh meat consumed, there were processed under inspection 6,934,233,214 pounds of meat and meat products. This enormous quantity is only the part that came under federal inspection in 936 establishments located in 255 cities. It is estimated that the packing houses having federal inspection kill only about 60 per cent, of the animals that are used annually for food. Of the remaining 40 per cent, about one half is under municipal or state inspection and the remainder is judged by the butchers only. It is not necessary to go further into figures to emphasize the importance of domesticated animals in the business of the country and their more personal value to us as producers of food and clothing.

In addition to the burden-bearing and the food-producing animals, the pets in dumb creation can not be ignored. The bird, cat and dog have gained a recognized place among the objects of human interest. The breeding of the best species and varieties of these animals has become a large industry. Veterinarians who are specializing in the diseases of pet animals are becoming numerous and many of them have large and well-appointed hospitals.

An investment of such vital importance to mankind as that in domesticated animals should be looked after in a business-like manner. Yet we find in this country that the conditions which tend toward the efficiency and comfort of animals are far from ideal. The necessary precautions by way of food and shelter to safeguard animals against general diseases and to protect them from various forms of infection are not observed by animal owners as fully as would be expected from the present knowledge of those subjects. The losses from disease resulting directly from the lack of such protection are estimated at between three and four hundred millions of dollars annually. Besides this enormous financial waste there is the physical suffering and death of hundreds of thousands of animals. These losses are of more significance than even their totals suggest. The death of a few hens, a hog or a milch cow means but little to the country, as a whole, but to the unfortunate owner it brings not infrequently positive privation. Of productive property there is none more widely distributed among the poor than fowls, swine and milch cows. In thousands of instances these animals constitute the only source of income. When they fall victims of disease, the suffering of their owners for want of food and clothing is often more severe than can be appreciated or understood by those who have not witnessed it. These losses, therefore, in addition to their effect upon the economics of the nation, have a very direct influence upon the physical well-being of thousands of people. The difficulty does not stop here, for the spread of the diseases themselves from animal to man has been the cause of much suffering and many deaths in the human family.

The interrelation of the diseases of man and animals has been the subject of many researches, dissertations, laws and regulations. The Mosaic laws are among the earliest of those for protecting man against infection from animals. In these it is not clear whether or not the regulations against the use of meat from animals affected with certain diseases were based on the observation that such carcasses were injurious to the consumer or on a religious rite of a somewhat indefinite origin. From the earliest times certain disorders of the human family have been attributed with more or less evidence to infection from animals.

The discoveries of recent years have shown that the specific cause or microorganisms that produce certain transmissible diseases will attack both man and one or more species of lower animals. The most common of these microorganisms are those of glanders, rabies and tuberculosis, although anthrax, cowpox and foot-and-mouth diseases are not infrequently transmitted directly from cattle to man. The studies that have been made concerning the identity of human and animal diseases and the channels through which the infecting microorganisms pass from one species to another have indicated very clearly the limitations of the intercommunicability of disease between man and animals. It has been shown that the channels of infection render it relatively easy for the virus of a few diseases to pass from infected animals to their attendants, but that the reverse is not necessarily true. Thus, there are reported many cases of anthrax, glanders and rabies in man that were caused by direct infection from diseased animals. The cases are very rare where animals have been infected with these diseases from man. This is not because the virus is unable to infect animals, but because from the nature of things the opportunity for it to pass from infected people to animals does not usually exist. There seems to be a popular misunderstanding on this subject. Let me illustrate by rabies. A mad dog may bite several persons, some or all of whom may develop rabies, or hydrophobia, and die. Dogs or other animals are not infected in turn by rabid people. If, however, animals should be properly inoculated with the brain of a person who had died of rabies they would develop the disease and die. The natural method of infection in rabies is through the bite of the infected individual. An instinct of the dog is to bite and when rabid this natural tendency is accentuated, and consequently many dogs, other animals and people may become infected. Biting is not a dominant instinct of man and consequently the rabid person is not liable to bite dogs or other animals. More than this, his environment prevents him from doing so. While the possibility of transmitting the disease exists, experience shows that animals are rarely, if ever, infected with rabies from man. In like manner, anthrax and glanders may be transmitted from animals to their attendants or to those who may examine their dead bodies, but the infected man does not usually come into contact with the animals in such a way that the virus can escape to them. It is natural that man should attend his animals when they are sick, but when he himself is afflicted he does not, as a rule, look after his flocks. In former times there were large numbers of people infected with anthrax, which they contracted from handling the wool taken from sheep that had died of that disease; likewise many were infected with foot-and-mouth disease which was transmitted to them through the milk of infected cows. There are a few reports that diphtheria has been contracted by the pet cat from the sick child; that birds, especially parrots, have contracted tuberculosis from their attendants; and that poliomyelitis has been transmitted to dogs; but these reports are few in number. There is considerable literature on the transmission of tuberculosis from man to fowls, but the evidence is largely circumstantial. In recent years, large quantities of human tuberculous material have been fed to fowls with negative results. In like manner, the reports of the transmission of tuberculosis from man to cattle are based on circumstantial evidence, and they were made before the knowledge of the varieties of tubercle bacteria had been acquired.

In addition to the infectious diseases, there are a number of parasites which infest people through the medium of pet animals and meat.

The facts seem to be clear that the danger in the inter-communicability of diseases is from animals to man and not from man to animals. This means that in the protection of animals they should be cared for in such a way that their diseases can not pass from one to another, and that those who attend diseased animals should take the necessary precautions to protect themselves. The very definite knowledge of the cause of the communicable diseases makes it possible to minimize the danger to man in caring for infected animals.

To be able to properly care for animals one must understand their physiological requirements. For economic reasons several species of animals have become so numerous and so restricted in their liberties that they must rely entirely upon man to furnish them food and shelter. Presumably they have lost, through continuous living in an artificial environment, much of their original sagacity for self-preservation, and it is not unlikely that they are acquiring a certain amount of adaptation to the new conditions. This intensifies the necessity of inquiring into the best methods to follow in order to give dumb creation the physical protection that rightly belongs to it.

The protection of animals is not different in principle from the protection of man. The problems encountered are similar to those in ascertaining what is best for the physical well-being of the human species. If we could trace the evolution of the present knowledge of hygiene and the physiological requirements of man from his early existence until now, we should find that the influences most effective in bringing about our present conception of living conditions are the results of the stud}" of those physical and biological sciences which combined make up what is known as the medical curriculum. These sciences have interpreted the needs of the body and brought to our assistance the best we now possess of hygiene and the care of the sick and injured. In like manner the best we know of the nature, care and protection of animals has been derived from the study of the same group of sciences, which are those that make up the veterinary curriculum. We must remember, however, that the care of animals, like that of children, will be guided by the knowledge of those who have them in charge. The task, therefore, is to provide adequate means for ascertaining the nature of the different species and their physiological needs and to have this knowledge made available for and acquired by the owners and caretakers of animals.

The work that is being done in the state experiment stations and agricultural colleges in testing various kinds of forage and food rations is bringing into practical form the results obtained by chemists and physiologists relative to the nutritive needs of different animals. These same institutions are investigating the questions of ventilation, stabling, exercise and other topics pertaining to the best possible care of the healthy animal.

The results of these experiments are published in bulletins for free distribution. Consequently it is possible for all animal owners to profit by the findings.

With animals, as with man, it is the sick and injured that suffer most in the absence of skilled attendants. This fact was observed by Claude Bourgelat who in 1762 established the first veterinary college in the world at Lyons, France. He recognized the need of men trained in the care of injured and diseased horses in the cavalry. He believed that men could be educated in these lines and that a new profession could be developed for the purpose of caring for afflicted animals. A little later there was established a second veterinary school at Alfort with the additional purpose of studying methods to prevent the epizootic diseases that were devastating the animal world. Then other schools arose until a large number of well-equipped veterinary colleges were established in Europe. In this country there are now twenty-one veterinary colleges, of which seven receive state support.

In 1884 the Bureau of Animal Industry was established in the United States Department of Agriculture for researches into the nature of animal diseases. Again, state boards of health and live stock sanitary boards are studying the same subjects. Thus we have in this country institutions to inquire into the nature of the diseases of animals for the purpose of devising methods for preventing them and veterinary colleges to teach men how to treat and to care for the sick and injured. The value of veterinary colleges in this connection is just beginning to be recognized. Until recently little money was available for this purpose and consequently the work was restricted to the teaching of veterinary medicine and surgery in a very narrow sense. During the last few years. however, more funds have been available for this work and much has been done to improve the teaching of veterinary medicine both in treatment and in general hygiene.

As an illustration, perhaps the most important advance in the humane treatment of suffering animals has been in the use of anesthetics. Formerly all operations were performed on animals without the use of any agent to deaden pain. To a considerable degree that practise is continued, but the more progressive surgeons use ether, chloroform, ether cocaine or other general or local anesthetics in painful operations. This is one of the blessings modern surgery has brought to dumb creation. The use of antiseptics in veterinary surgery is saving many animals from the painful and serious consequences of wound infection. The methods of restraining animals for operation are also being improved. Veterinary hospitals are increasing in number and popularity so that animals are receiving more humane treatment when it is necessary for them to come under the surgeon's knife. A like interest is being taken in the advancement of internal medicine. Methods of nursing sick animals that will give to the patient the greatest comfort possible are coming into use. The treatment in veterinary medicine is becoming as rational and as scientific as it is in human medicine. The unwarranted medications for animals that were reported in former times are rapidly disappearing.

With the development of the work in veterinary. colleges, all will be done that is possible by way of teaching efficient and humane methods of treatment. However, in the application of modern methods in veterinary medicine there are serious difficulties to be overcome. The veterinarian needs the moral support of the public in applying his art. The condition confronting him is complicated. The afflicted animal is conscious of pain. The operation necessary to restore it to usefulness is severe. The operator equips himself with disinfectants, sterilized instruments and proper dressings. Thus prepared he meets the owner. Shall the animal be restrained in the quickest way possible and operated upon without an anesthetic or shall the comfort of the animal be considered? Here the responsibility of the owner enters, for it is he who orders the work to be done and it is he who bears the expense. The use of anesthetics involves additional cost that some one must pay. It is in this particular that the efforts of the veterinarian to minimize suffering are often checked. What is true of surgery-applies to medicine when the proper care calls for additional expense. As the worth of the patient is usually measured in dollars, the amount to be expended for its recovery has its limitations. But a strong effort for humane treatment on the part of practitioners is tending to adjust many of these differences. However, society should take a positive stand on this subject in order to encourage those who are striving for better and more humane methods in treating sick and injured animals. A veterinarian of my acquaintance recently received, in addition to his fee, a very substantial check from an appreciative client to enable him to use anesthetics on animals whose owners would not pay for it.

This brings us to a very troublesome subject in the protection of animals, namely, the disposition of worn-out horses, homeless cats and dogs and the hopelessly injured. The humane impulse is to destroy them at once. This, so far as we can determine, is the proper course to pursue. It is believed that death is preferable to continued suffering. The question arises, how shall the animal be destroyed? Individuals, and even societies for the prevention of cruelty, frequently impose a method of execution that is not always the easiest for the animals to endure. The insistence upon the use of some anesthetic often imposes upon the animal a more disagreeable death than a well-directed bullet would cause. Yet we often find this and other methods of painless destruction excluded. It would seem that when it is decided that an animal is to be killed the method should be chosen that will give the least suffering.

The slaughter of animals for human food is a disagreeable task, but one that must be performed so long as meat is used. Many investigations have been made to determine the method that will dispatch the animal with the least fright and pain. The conclusion prevails that with cattle at least the most humane method is to stun them before bleeding. This method is observed except in those packing houses where for religious reasons the methods of the ancients are still observed. It is gratifying to note that in one city through the efforts of the humane society and the federal meat inspection, many of the cruelties of the "Kosher" killing have been minimized. In justice to the large packers it should be stated that they welcome any improvement along these lines. If we are consistent in our contention that domesticated animals should be cared for in a humane manner, should not their slaughter, which is for man's benefit, be as easy and painless as it is possible to make it? With the development of new knowledge and better methods many religious rites have been modified. It is hoped that in the near future the Jewish methods of slaughtering animals that have been handed down from early days to the present may in like manner be subjected to certain revisions. As I have already stated, the cruelties of the method have been minimized in one city. Certainly these changes should be made general. Our people can not be too much in earnest relative to the enforcement of methods of slaughter that will protect as far as possible innocent animals from unnecessary pain. This applies not only to the procedures in the larger packing houses, but also to the small butcher and the individual owner who now and then kills animals for food. In the method? of all these there are opportunities for improvement.

In the protection of animals there is need for a more efficient service in the eradication of infectious and epizootic diseases. Advancement is being rapidly made, but before the desired results can be attained much additional knowledge must be acquired. Those engaged in this kind of investigation are constantly encountering difficulties by way of limited facilities and funds. The greatest danger, however, that threatens progress in the prevention of disease is the propaganda against vivisection. The time has passed when unnecessary pain is to be tolerated in experimental work. The men and women who are engaged in work requiring the use of animals are sensible of their discomforts. Nevertheless, in the grim warfare against suffering and disease it is often necessary to utilize a few animals for diagnosis. A larger number are required for the preparation of serums and vaccines for therapeutic and immunizing purposes. No one fails to appreciate the importance of minimizing the number of deaths among animals, thereby checking the unnecessary loss from disease. To accomplish this it is sometimes necessary to sacrifice a few individuals in order that epizootics may be checked. In all great crises the lives of a few have been willingly sacrificed in order to save the many. Thus the few animals that were used in the investigation of the nature of Texas fever in cattle and the means by which its virus is transmitted have saved thousands and thousands of cattle from suffering and death from that disease. It is to be hoped that eventually science may give us a substitute for experimental animals. However, the protection against disease that is afforded the flocks and herds of our country warrants the most hearty and loyal support of the principles underlying the present methods of control.

It is impossible in the limits of a single article to discuss adequately all of the essential factors involved in bringing about the desired protection of domesticated animals. Great improvement has been made in the methods usually referred to under the term of the care of animals, such as gentle handling, proper exercise, suitable food and shelter. Betterments along these lines will be made as fast as the acquisition of new knowledge of their physiological requirements permits. Better care of the sick and injured will follow as fast as the owners come to a realization of their obligations to their animals. The suffering and losses from infectious and epizootic diseases will decrease in direct proportion to the application of rational methods for their prevention. The organized efforts to do away with cruelty are more rational and more effective because they are based on scientific principles. The ideal conditions to be attained will come only through the growth of knowledge of the requirements of animals and a deeper consciousness of man's responsibility over dumb creation.