Dr. Robert Foley and Dr. Michael Ferber began their friendship in 1989 as undergraduate students living in the same dormitory at Cornell University. Dr. Michael’s father and grandfather were both Cornell alumni and veterinarians and Dr. Michael was eager to continue the family tradition. Similarly, Dr. Foley entered Cornell already knowing that he would become a veterinarian. The two quickly became friends and helped each other through the arduous journey of studying for and applying to veterinary school.
As the years progressed both friends entered veterinary school at Cornell and became roommates once again. After veterinary school, Dr. Michael went to work and became a partner in the family business at The North Shore Animal Hospital in Bayside, Queens. The North Shore Animal Hospital was a pioneer in the field of veterinary medicine. It was established in 1939 by Dr. Michael’s grandfather and uncle and at the time was one of the first small animal veterinary practices in the country. Dr. Michael’s father joined the practice later and continued the lineage. Now it was Dr. Michael’s turn to assure that North Shore Animal Hospital would remain at the forefront of veterinary medicine.
Dr. Foley went to work in Brooklyn and worked there for two years. The two remained close friends and finally Dr. Michael asked Dr. Foley to come to North Shore and work with him. Dr. Foley later became a partner. Now the two friends have three practices in the area. The two have had a great time keeping up with the practices and work very hard to be the best veterinarians possible.
As time went on, the two began to ask questions about the general recommendations that veterinarians are taught to give to their patients. There is a fundamental tenet in veterinary medicine that states “primum non nocere” or “first do no harm”. Every veterinarian swears an oath to this important creed. In continuing to strive to be the best; however, the friends started re-evaluating their whole approach to veterinary medicine. If the doctors were going to continue to grow their practices and be at the forefront, was it enough for them to simply follow basic veterinary guidelines? Wasn’t it important to ask questions and challenge the establishment when things just didn’t seem to make sense? Wasn’t it important to make sure that indeed we as veterinarians are in fact doing no harm? Some questions needed to be asked, and the decision was made to do this publicly so that pet owners themselves could make informed decisions for the health of their pets.
Why do veterinarians vaccinate so much? Why do we often vaccinate with vaccines that either have little or NO efficacy against certain diseases? Are some other vaccines, while important, overdone and given because it is an easy way to lure in clients and generate income? Are the vaccines actually dangerous when overused? Are there sufficient challenge studies to document exactly how long veterinary vaccinations provide immunity? Should veterinarians not speak out when they disagree with over-vaccination for fear of being ostracized by their peers? Why do veterinarians make recommendations to their clients that they do not act upon with their OWN pets?
Why do we routinely recommend spaying and neutering as dogma and as the only option for a pet owner? Is an intact animal actually healthier? Does pre-pubertal spaying and neutering actually contribute to disease? Why is the procedure recommended at such an early age? Is spaying and neutering a quick and easy procedure to generate income for the veterinarian?
Why are certain diseases so prevalent in our pets? Why is obesity such a problem with our pets despite “advances in nutrition”? Why is “people food” unhealthy for our pets but processed dog or cat food superior? Does the rush to domesticate our pets and to fit them into our lifestyles actually remove them from their natural state to which their bodies are adapted for optimal health?
These are just some of the questions which we hope to answer. We will do this in an open setting where veterinarians and pet owners can contribute and debate. Some of these issues have been debated behind closed doors by veterinarians for a long time. We feel that it is important to bring these issues out into the open where pet owners can become educated and join in the debate. We do not claim to know all of the answers. We welcome dissent. It is our mission that through this process we will become better veterinarians, better people and better pet owners ourselves. We hope that you will join us.