Letters to the Editor

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Rights versus responsibilities

I am in full agreement with Dr. Owens' comments on transitioning canine blood banks to community-based programs.1 However, I take exception to the suggestion that such a move respects the “essential rights” of these dogs. Such terminology, I believe, risks opening a Pandora's box. I would rather use a phrase that a classmate of mine, Dr. Grant Hobika, first brought to my attention. He said that he did not believe in animal rights, but rather in human responsibilities. I personally find this to be a more comprehensive and more definable term, without raising concerns about “rights.”

J. L. Bayer, DVM

Midlothian, Va

1. Owens S. The transition to canine community blood bands (lett). J Am Vet Med Assoc 2019;254:671672.

Setting reasonable expectations for animal behavior cases

As a general practitioner, I want to express a concern I have regarding some of the recently published reports in the Animal Behavior Case of the Month feature in JAVMA. Over the past year or so, I have seen several reports describing large-breed dogs with severe signs of aggression that were treated with oral medications and behavior modification. The reports all describe dramatic improvements in the dog's aggression, which is certainly good news for the individual dog involved and its owners. However, I often wonder how many other dogs have received similar treatments without a successful outcome, and I fear that for every dog that improved, there could be dozens that did not and went on to bite again.

Individual case reports, although interesting examples of what might be achieved with appropriate treatment, are not necessarily representative of the greater problem of dog aggression and may offer a skewed outlook of anticipated treatment success. If we aren't honest about the seriousness of dog aggression and the damage that can be done to people and other pets, we are doing our communities a disservice. Dog aggression is a common public health issue, and general practitioners have a responsibility to fairly explain likely outcomes to their clients.

Carolynn Dunphy, DVM

Seattle, Wash

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