Friday, January 27, 2012

Bob Barker wants UVA to Stop Using Cats in Medical Training

     Bob Barker, the former host of "The Price is Right" is a huge animal advocated.  Aside from him famously ending all the "The Price is Right" shows by reminding people to spay and neuter their pets, Barker has a foundation, the DJ&T Foundation, that supports spay/neuter programs and has donated millions of dollars to schools to support the study of animal rights law.
     Barker is now focusing on the University of Virginia (UVA) and their use of cats in their medical training program.  According to NBC Washington, "The technique in question involves training graduate physicians on how to insert breathing tubes into premature newborns. Barker wants students to learn on simulators, not live animals. University of Virginia officials say simulators don’t do as good of a job as cats."
     We are hoping that our supporters will help convince UVA to stop using the cats in medical training. You can write letters to the following people, letting them know you support Bob Barker and the use of simulators instead of live cats for medical training:

Office of the President, UVA
Teresa Sullivan
P.O. Box 400224
Charlottesville, VA 22904-4224

Steven T. DeKosky, M.D.
Vice President and Dean of the School of Medicine
PO Box 800793
Charlottesville, VA 22908

Wednesday, January 18, 2012


Rosie & Turtleman

Steve and I were excited about celebrating our birthdays at Pt. Reyes National Seashore, staying overnight at our favorite motel, until we thought of Jake.
            Jake is a twelve-pound, short-haired gray male kitty who adopted us two years ago.  We didn’t mean for this to happen, but Jake showed up unannounced at our condo, healthy, un-neutered and lonely. We figured someone had probably abandoned him.  Happens all the time with cats and dogs.  They’re called “foreclosure” pets.
            At any rate, I didn’t like Jake at first.  He frightened Snowball, a spunky white kitty we’d come to befriend.  Snowball lives with a family nearby and is allowed to roam free.  He was very fond of trotting up to us in the parking lot where we would offer him treats, conversation, and many pets.  Then, suddenly Jake appeared and frightened off Snowball.
            OK, so here’s where we had a choice – the “two roads diverged in a yellow wood” (Robert Frost) sort of thing.  I wanted to get him fixed and find him a home.  Steve?  Not so much.  My friend Grant was interested in adopting Jake until we discovered that he was not litter trained.  This became obvious when we took him into our bedroom/bathroom area for an overnight stay to make sure he was around in time for the vet appointment the following day.  Not a wise decision.  Let’s just say, our white carpeting took a beating that evening.  So, outside he went; then he disappeared for a few days.  I feel guilty about this, but I sort of hoped he wouldn’t come back.   When he did, we scooped him up, took him to the vet and ended his ability to produce a succession of little Jakes.  Naturally, Grant was no longer interested.   Who wants a cat who poops in all the wrong places?  We don’t have a spare bathroom to use for potty-training, so I checked with a local rescue group.   No one was willing or able to take on the task.    Anyway, by now, Steve had fallen in love.  He felt sorry for Jake because he didn’t have a home, and would probably be impossible to place because of his toileting issues.  But, I was firm.  I made my closing arguments: “We can’t afford another cat.  We’ve already spent $400 on him because of a bite wound – who’s to say this won’t happen again?”   Steve teared up; I felt like a heartless jerk.
Jake now lives outside our door on the landing. We set up a cat bed for him along with food and water bowls.  All of our neighbors know Jake, love Jake, make inquiries after Jake. One woman has even dubbed him the “Mayor of Stoneglen North.”  Steve has his morning coffee sitting next to Jake on the stairs at the top of the landing.  I read my mail to him in the same spot in the afternoon.
Jake has gotten very attached.  At first, he was nervous whenever we would leave the house, and would run down the stairs after us, as if to say, “Don’t leave me, oh, please don’t leave me!”  Once, when we were out all day, he didn’t come home for three days.  When he finally did, I told him never to do that again, that we would always return.  Now, whenever I have to leave, I make sure to pet him and say, “We’ll be back soon, Jakey, please stay home.”
Little by little, he’s become more comfortable.  Now, sometimes, he barely looks up from his kitty bed as we leave.  When we return, however, he still runs to greet us in the parking lot, doing his little happy dance, and running up the stairs ahead of us as if to say, “You came home, you really came home!” (You can see Jake’s dance video here.)
 We still want to go Pt. Reyes for our birthdays, but now that we’re so in love with Jake that we’d die if anything happened to him, there’s only one thing to do.  While our two indoor cats will be cared for by a friend, Jake will go off to boarding school.
            This is our road.

Rosie Sorenson, MA, MFT
Award-winning author of:  They Had Me at Meow:
Tails of Love from the Homeless Cats of Buster Hollow
 For t-shirts, mugs, greeting cards, etc. featuring the cats of Buster Hollow, please click here.