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A mite coincidental?

For some time there has been evidence of a growing concern within the thinking sectors of the veterinary profession about the ability of the procedures which surround the Pet Travel Scheme (PETS) to prevent exotic parasites gaining entry to this country.

Some of these parasites pose something more than a mere nuisance, they are dangerous to other animals and to man. Political assurances, particularly in the wake of what has been revealed about the veracity of political statements intended to allay doubts about the danger posed by BSE, must be taken with more than a large spoonful of salt. When it comes to animal welfare or to human welfare vis-à-vis animals our politicians are not just useless, they are a menace.

The House of Lords Select Committee on Science and Technology accepts that no significant progress on controls for more than a couple of years. MAFF's research strategy for the next five or six years ignores the problem.

Even though it is known that resistance is spreading vets are left to grapple with what may become a very serious problem without the benefit of an up to date knowledge of parasite drug resistance or effective control strategies.

It might, therefore, be seen as timely that a new book, Mites and ticks of domestic animals: An identification guide and information source by Dr. R S Baker should emerge from, of all places, The Stationery Office. This is not a book for dog breeders but it is an essential for every vet, particularly those with clients who are taking advantage of PETS.

The book provides the means to identify a huge catalogue of mites and ticks but what it fails to do is provide information about effective methods of control. To what extent this omission is a reflection of political or MAFF's indifference to the problem and its potential to create widespread and costly mayhem among British domestic animals and their owners is a matter for conjecture.

Expressions of growing veterinary concern, the political propensity for ignoring inconvenient consequences of political initiatives, MAFF's apparent lack of concern and the absence of discussion about effective control strategies are unlikely to be linked by nothing more than mere coincidence.

Once bitten
The old saw that it is not news when dog bites man is no longer true. Perhaps it never was true. A single incident has been shown to be more than enough to send governments into a paroxysm of knee jerks. These usually produce control measures that are inappropriate to the problem and may even exacerbate it. Governments tend to be at their weakest, intellectually, morally and politically, when they take action which affects livestock and their owners.

The Kennel Club has used the From Clarges Street column in the October issue of the Kennel Gazette to draw attention to the importance of ensuring that dogs involved in Kennel Club regulated events do not bite people or other dogs. What is intended as an explanation of the procedures to be adopted seems to fall some way short of demonstrating that the Kennel Club attaches great importance to incidents involving biting.

'Show secretaries have a duty to report any incidents of this nature to The Kennel Club after the show, so that those of a serious nature, where any breach of regulations which may have occurred can be properly investigated. Any incident, with as much information as possible about the dog(s) involved, must be reported to the secretary at the show.'

Reported by whom? If the Kennel Club is doing something more than attempting to distance itself from responsibility surely we need to be told just how the Secretary is expected to acquire knowledge that a biting incident has taken place.

The Kennel Club can and must insist that judges report every biting incident in which they are involved. Judges who fail to do so must be called to account if and when knowledge of the incident becomes available. The requirement should appear prominently in every judging book perhaps along with a form on which details of the incident can be recorded.

To what extent exhibitors can be obliged to report any incident in which they might be involved let alone incidents which they only witness is uncertain. They can certainly be encouraged to report incidents and it may well be that prominent exhortations to do so are all that might be required to discourage people from taking dogs of uncertain temper to shows.

Finally the Kennel Club itself should demonstrate that reports are taken seriously. This has not always been the case. Judges have been bitten and the perpetrators gone unpunished.

To sum up. Judges, under threat of penalty, must be obliged to report every biting incident in which they are involved. Exhibitors must be encouraged to do so. Show Secretaries must be obliged to investigate every reported incident. The Kennel Club must take reports seriously and investigate them fully.

Nothing less will be sufficient to demonstrate the importance which breeders, owners, judges, shows and the Kennel Club must attach to getting rid of aggressive dogs.

Permethrin
Permethrin is a synthetic pyrethroid contained in products sold in pet stores and supermarkets. They are dangerous to cats not just if they are applied irresponsibly or out of ignorance but also because cats which come into contact with dogs which have been properly treated may also develop the symptoms of permethrin toxicosis.

These symptoms include convulsions, seizures and tremors; ataxia and collapse, loss of senses of sight, smell and taste; Of twenty seven cases reported to the UK Suspected Adverse Reaction Surveillance Scheme ten resulted in death.

It seems that anyone who owns a dog and a cat should, for the sake of the cat's welfare, find some alternative way of dealing with dog fleas and ticks than using spot-on formulations intended only for use on dogs.

More and more often am I reminded of Victor Borge's uncle who invented a cure for which there was no disease. He caught the cure and died.

Dogs Worldwide.com - This article has been reproduced courtesy of Frank Jackson

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