An AP story published in the New York Times and Washington Post, explores a concern increasingly shared by pet owners: the safety of drugs we are giving their pets. “Since the year 2000, reports of side effects in animal drugs have gone up about 90 percent, to 34,603 last year, FDA records show.” The story notes that veterinarians say this figure is largely meaningless because most drug reactions aren’t reported. Catmanager suspects, however, that figures like this (and the media attention around them) are bound to raise concerns in pet owners, regardless of the underlying reality of drug safety. Perception is everything, and most of the public is not in a position to adequately evaluate statistical claims. The answer to that equation isn’t hard to figure out.
Another widely run AP story (including in the New York Times and Washington Post) discusses the increasing role pharmaceuticals are playing in the lives of pets. According to the article, spending on drugs for pets has finally overtaken drug spending for farm animals. Catmanager feels the article tries to cover too much ground, jumping from the ethics of spending money for pet medicines to the rise of Internet pharmacies to regulation and the FDA to the impact of veterinary insurance. The differences in how this story is being titled are interesting. The Washington Post originally used the title “Americans Stuffing Their Pets with Drugs.” USA Today changed “Stuffing” to “Tenderly Stuff.” The Atlanta Journal Consitution goes with “Americans Increasingly Medicating Pets.”
The New York Times profiles 90-year-old retired veterinarian Dr. Ben Sann, who still works out five or six times each week, is passionate about Shakespeare (naturally, he loves King Lear the best), and is still trying to adjust to life without his wife of fifty-seven years (she died a few years ago). “‘“You have to understand,’ he says, ‘I was never important to anyone but my wife.’” A lovely, bittersweet article.