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Sunday, July 31, 2011

The Screamin' Eagles

This past weekend we spent some time at one our favorite spots in Ohio.  It is a destination we hit every year and always come away wishing we lived closer.  The Lake Erie Islands and mainland is our choice spot.  We usually spend the weekend on Put In Bay but this year we chose to stay on the mainland and visit some spots we haven't had time for in the past.  We have become a fan of B&Bs in the last few years and chose to stay at Five Bells Inn on Catawba Island.   It is a quaint 100 year old house with cottages on a lagoon to the rear and a beautiful view of the lake to the front.  The couple that runs the place are lovely people and make a great breakfast! This was our second visit to Five Bells which offered us the awesome opportunity this time to view Bald Eagles! 

The lagoon behind the house offers lots of wildlife viewing opportunities.  Egrets, ducks, Blue Herons and more populate this natural lagoon.  I especially enjoyed hearing the croaking bull frog although he stayed incognito.   According to the inn keepers, this is the second year the eagles have been in the lagoon.  They have had the pleasure of watching them build their nests and then hatch and raise babies for the last two years.  This year they hatched two babies both of which we saw flying around the lagoon and perched in the nearby trees.  They built their nest right behind the cottages this year but unfortunately it was destroyed during a recent severe storm that passed through the area.  Despite the loss of the nest, the eagles have not left the area and continue to offer glimpses of themselves now and then to guests staying at the inn. 

The juvenile eagles are slighty different in appearance from the full grown adults.  These eaglets were probably in the 5-6 month age range.  They appeared to be nearly full size (10-14 lbs) but they have dark heads versus the white head you would expect to see on an adult.  Eagles have a wingspan of 6-8 feet which is quite impressive when seeing them fly.  Their staple food is fish but they can also feed on small rodents, waterfowl and turtles.  The innkeepers have seen them carrying fish from the lake on a regular schedule which is only about 100 yards from where they hang out. 

Survival over the last 100 years has been  difficult for the Bald Eagle. It is a sad story of near decemation resulting from chemical poisoning and hunting by humans.  Fortunately, it is also a story of survival.  Eagles were declared an endangered species in 1967 and have been slowly recovering in numbers.  Forty years later in 2007, the Bald Eagle was removed from the Endangered Species list.  Seeing them on the shores of Lake Erie today is a true testament to this statement.  As a kid, we spent nearly every summer weekend in the same area and never once did I see a Bald Eagle. 

The coolest part of experiencing the eagles was the sound they make calling out to each other.  They have a very distinct call that we heard nearly non-stop over the weekend.  It is music I could listen to all day.  It is a song of survival, life and most importantly not extinction. 

To learn more about the Bald Eagle: 

Saturday, July 9, 2011

To Cut is to Cure....... overpopulation.   The numbers are staggering.  The statistics are heart wrenching.  It sickens me everytime I think about the number of animals that die every year due to overpopulation.  On average, 11,000 dogs and cats are euthanized daily in the United States as a result.  Multiply that number by 365 days and you get a whopping 4,015,0000.  Wow. 

It might surprise some, but euthanasia due to overpopulation is the number one cause of death of healthy dogs and cats.  It is not feline leukemia, cancer or heartworm disease as one might think.  The great news is that this problem could be cured and has improved tremendously over the last 40 years.  As many as 20 million animals were euthanized yearly before 1970.  It obviously is not an overnight fix but it can be resolved if communities as a whole continue to make the effort. 

Being a surgeon at heart,  the title of this blog is a favorite of mine.  Every surgeon would like to believe this to be the case but of course, it is not true for all situations. But in the case of pet overpopulation, it rings true.  Surgical alteration of dogs and cats is quite simple.  It involves removal of the reproductive organs which are the testicles on a male and the ovaries and uterus on a female.  The procedure is not technically difficult  and the animals recover amazingly fast and return to normal within a few days.  In addition to the prevention of breeding, spay/neuter prevents conditions such as pyometra (a life threatening uterine infection), ovarian cancer, and behavior issues such as roaming which can lead to a multitude of life threatening situations. 

Pet overpopulation also has detrimental effects on the community as well.  Hoarding situations often are the result of an individual who tries to feed and help the strays at an extreme level, leading to horrific living  conditions for both human and animal.  Stray animals are at risk of developing and spreading disease that can be threatening to human health such as intestinal parasites and rabies.  People that work in shelters, often suffer from "compassion fatigue" caused by the frequent exposure to euthanasia of healthy, happy animals.   

Fortunately there are Herculean efforts taking place to make a dent in that enormous number of 4 million killed.  Today, nearly every community has a low-cost, sometimes no cost, spay/neuter program making the procedure affordable for most people.  Some county and state governments around the country have mandated that all animals within their communities be altered including  adopted animals from humane organizations.  A billionaire orthopedic surgeon and founder of Found Animals has offered a $25 million prize to the individual that develops an affordable chemical sterilant able to be used in both male and female cats and dogs.  These efforts alone will not fix the problem.  Education of the pet owning public is first and foremost.  This responsibility lies with everyone working or involved in the animal care world to increase the awareness around this ongoing problem we face. 

Please be a responsible pet owner and have your pet spayed or neutered and educate others about the benefits.  You will be saving lives!

For more information on spay/neuter:
ASPCA-cat spay/neuter
ASPCA-dog /spayneuter
OSU Vet Med-spay/neuter
Spay Ohio
Amercian Humane Association-spay/neuter