Continued to Monday

The hearing was continued to Monday and I doubt it will finish on Monday.  Kudos to those who showed up to support the Gracia family.  It was truly wonderful to see the gallery full on their side of the courtroom!  One thing I'm fairly sure of is that, a judge who is in the courtroom from 8 AM to 6:30 PM, probably isn't the primary caretaker of pets.  I need to breath for a bit after this very long day but then I'll be back to tell you about a veterinary "expert" who certainly isn't an expert on heartworms and fleas.  (Hey, Vet, if you're reading, sometimes the proper answer is "That's not my area of expertise."  Come on back and you'll find out why you really should learn how to say "I don't know" instead of winging it.)

And somebody check Telemundo News please and let me know what the reporter said.

Addendum: As exhausted as I am, I just had to add this from one of my previous posts...

It disturbs me when I see animals seized and forfeited while humaniacs cite “numerous parasites” or even “positive for heartworms”.

Ah, yes, heartworms.  Let’s talk about nematodes.  “The "roundworms" or "nematodes" (phylum Nematoda) are the most diverse phylum of pseudocoelomates, and one of the most diverse of all animals. Nematode species are very difficult to distinguish; over 28,000 have been described, of which over 16,000 are parasitic. It has been estimated that the total number of described and undescribed roundworms might be more than 500,000.”  16,000 known parasitic roundworms and, if the percentage and holds when they find all 500,000, that means there are about 250,000 species of parasitic roundworms.  But 16,000 is enough for me to contemplate for now.  NOW I understand why those packages of medications for my dogs say “roundworm” and then spell out which species of roundworm they mean!

Do you know that heartworms are roundworms?  Of course, you can't buy the pesticide to kill them at the local WallyMart as you can for some other roundworms but still they are roundworms.

Heartworms are “a parasitic roundworm (Dirofilaria immitis) that is spread from host to host through the bites of mosquitoes…”  Back a few decades, my first dog tested positive for heartworms.  At the time, I didn’t really understand and simply depended on my veterinarian.  The dog was treated, recuperated and survived nicely with little damage from the mild infection.  I recently took in a stray who is heartworm positive and, with the internet now available, I started doing research.  I now know how that first dog of mine could test negative for heartworms several times, be on “preventative” consistently, and then positive on a different test.  In fact, if you live in an area where heartworms and mosquitoes are endemic, your dogs probably have heartworms in their system.  They may or may not have heartworm disease.

Heartworms go through several life stages before they become adults infecting the heart of the host animal. The worms require the mosquito as an intermediate stage in order to complete their life cycle... The period between the initial infection when the dog is bitten by a mosquito and the maturation of the worms into adults living in the heart takes 6 to 7 months… Dogs show no indication of heartworm infection during the 6 month long prepatent period prior to the worms' maturation, and current diagnostic tests for the presence of microfilariae or antigens cannot detect prepatent infections.”  Buried in there are some answers.  It is adult heartworms that cause disease and traditional tests reveal the presence of one stage of baby heartworms, NOT adult heartworms.  The majority of heartworm preventatives are NOT preventatives at all.  They are pesticides that kill off younger heartworms.

When a veterinarian says a dog is “positive for heartworms” it doesn’t mean very much.  It does mean that the dog has microfilariae in its blood although there are now several tests and one should definitely ask which test was used and exactly what “positive” means.  That alone does NOT mean the dog has heartworm disease or that the dog will develop heartworm disease.

Many dogs will show little or no sign of infection even after the worms become adults. These animals usually have only a light infection and live a fairly sedentary lifestyle. However, active dogs and those with heavier infections may show the classic signs of heartworm disease.”  In fact, diagnosis is a clinical diagnosis, meaning there should be an antigen test for adult heartworms AND evaluation of the effects being caused by the heartworms.  “If an animal is diagnosed with heartworms, treatment may be indicated. Before the worms can be treated, however, the dog must be evaluated for heart, liver, and kidney function to evaluate the risks of treatment. Usually the adult worms are killed with an arsenic-based compound.”  Even if a dog definitely has heartworm disease, treatment MAY be indicated.  The treatment is an injected poison to kill the adult heartworms and the risks of the poison and the possibility of dying heartworms traveling through the dog’s system may kill the dog.  Heartworms live about 2  years so the amount of damage already done and that may be done before they die has to be weighed against the hazards of the treatment.

In some cases, it may be perfectly acceptable to “treat” heartworms by use of a “preventative” to kill the babies while the adult heartworms die off over time.  But let’s talk about those “preventatives” a bit because those are actually poisonous pesticides too.

Heartworm preventive medications are used to periodically kill larval heartworms that have managed to gain access to the dog’s body. At this point, the products available are intended for monthly use. This means that they kill all the heartworm larvae (stage “L3” and “L4”) that have accumulated in the past month each time they are given. Some products offer the ability to kill older larvae which helps keep the pet protected in case someone is late giving the heartworm preventive medication at some point.”  Preventative my ARSE.  This is a treatment for the recurring infections of heartworms that are now virtually unavoidable in many places.  Mosquitoes deposit “L3” heartworm babies which progress to adults in 75-120 days.  And, while it says the “preventative” kills “L3” and “L4” I suspect it kills “L5” to some degree as well.  “There is also a phenomenon called the “Reach back effect.” This means that if a dog goes off heartworm preventive medication for a prolonged period (four months was the time tested), re-starting preventive could still preclude adult heartworm infection in the heart and pulmonary arteries. In the 1988 experiment by Atwell, dogs who went off heartworm preventive for four months and then restarted with ivermectin had 95% fewer adult heartworms than dogs who went without ivermectin (though it should be noted that some heartworms were still able to establish infection).”

Yep, it’s pretty well established that those monthly ivermectin meds for dogs are good for somewhere between 6 weeks and 4 months.  Also that a few heartworms may escape and grow (even if the ivermectin is given religiously.  Also that your dog may have a heartworm infection and NOT have heartworm disease.

A dog could “test positive” for baby heartworms that have not yet been killed.  A dog on “preventative” could “test positive” for the antigen indicating that the dog has some adult heartworms.  Neither of those would indicate a dog HAS heartworm disease.

Nest time you hear some activist saying the dogs from a seizure “tested positive for heartworms”, remember that this statement alone means NOTHING.

Now, let me throw another monkey wrench into this.  If ivermectin is actually 95% effective for 4 months, are you over dosing your dog on pesticides?  It is a pesticide you are feeding your dog and it is not without risks so those risks have to be weighed against the risks of developing heartworm disease.

Heartworms are now endemic in many areas and are still spreading to other areas.  They have become a part of a dog’s life.  They can certainly cause health problems but they may cause none at all; who should balance the risks and benefits and make the decision for a dog?  I’m going to say that’s a job that belongs to the owner of the dog because it isn’t an easy balancing act.  I cannot say that heartworm pesticides extend the average life or average well being of dogs because I can’t even find any statistics on that threshold issue.  In fact, there seems to be little research at all on the effects of these pesticides beyond that they do kill baby heartworms.  But at what cost?

And, yet, the manufacturers claim ivermectin is a relatively safe pesticide.  It is available at the feed stores for horses and other livestock.  If it's so damn safe and heartworms are such a big damn deal to the humaniacs, why the hell can't I buy it at the corner store (or at least the feed store) instead of having to get a script for it and pay 100X what it should cost???  Why don't I see SPCAs and HSUS campaigning for that instead of criticizing those who have dogs that are "heartworm positive"?

The animal rights activists have clearly begun to “campaign” for the concept that a dog not on preventatives or a dog that “tests positive for heartworms” is being cruelly treated or at least neglected.  Texas does not mandate heartworm pesticides.  Does any state?  And the science to support the concept that it should be mandated does not appear to exist, not even to the extent that it provides more benefit than it costs the dog in terms of health.  The science available for heartworms in cats is even less.  Until the science is developed, owners should be left to make this medical decision without fear that radical activists will accuse them of neglect or worse.

If you’re wondering where the activists get their materials, my first guess would be the American Heartworm Society, sponsored by the big drug companies.  No wonder they are pushing treatments/drugs/pesticides, huh?  Well, until they do the research, I’m not inclined to simply buy their fear mongering push for feeding pesticides to dogs and cats in apparently excessive doses.  All of my dogs are on monthly HeartGuard Plus and I can’t even say I’m reasonably sure I’m making the “right” choice for them.  My cats have never been given heartworm pesticides and are now 13-15 years old with no symptoms.  Since I generally keep windows and doors open, they get nearly the same exposure to mosquitoes as my couch potato dogs but show no symptoms of heartworm disease.  Yet most veterinarians are now pushing expensive heartworm pesticides for cats too even though they are at lower risk.

See also:

Wanna guess what the HSPCA Bird Vet doesn't really know squat about?  Maybe it's just me but, when someone is dead wrong on a subject they are claiming expertise upon, when someone doesn't know what the do NOT know and wings it, it always makes me question their claimed expertise in other areas and their veracity in general.

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