This entry was posted on Sunday, April 15th, 2012 at 1:21 pm and is filed under Animal Advocacy, Cat Scratching, CatAWhack, Claw Retention Initiative, Declawing, Pro-Claw, proclaw-declaw debate. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.
Watch this clip and then read this article…
Dolphin Tale is based on the true story of a Dolphin named Winter who due to entanglement in a fishing trap (i.e., crab pot and ropes) sustained life threatening injuries to her tail. The only way to stop the infection and provide her with a chance for survival was to amputate the tail fin. This alteration in anatomical form led to a change in function. Instead of moving the tail up and down as nature intended, she now had to move it from side to side in order to adapt, move and maneuver within the water. She couldn’t swim as fast or jump as high as most dolphins, but the real problem was that she was slowly damaging her spine. This unnatural movement was placing excessive pressure on her spine resulting in the development of Scoliosis with subsequent deterioration of the vertebrae eventually compromising other life sustaining functions. Kevin Carroll and colleague, Dan Strzempka, both prosthetists with Hanger Orthopedic Group rose to the challenge of creating a prosthetic tail to restore her natural function. Trainers at Clearwater Aquarium became physical therapists and rehabilitation supports assisting Kevin and Dan with the fitting of the prosthetic to the stump site and the gradual size modifications and upgraded prosthetic tails necessary to match Winter’s growth. There was a period of adjustment for Winter as she became comfortable with the prosthetic device and learned how to use it to engage in daily activities associated with being a dolphin.
“We knew it was going to happen, but when it happened, it was just awesome,” Carroll says of the first time Winter used the full prosthetic. “Just to see this very clean, anatomically correct, fluidlike motion in the water — it was absolutely breathtaking.”
It is an inspiring account of humanity, the connection and bond that we share with other species if our hearts and minds are open and receptive…people coming together with the focused objective to ease discomfort, provide relief, help restore and improve the quality and state of another’s being.
The world is full of contradictions and great diversity. There are people who go to great lengths, despite the odds, to uplift and preserve the form and function of a species due to accident/injury and people who dismiss, ignore, rationalize, and justify a deliberate amputation (not due to accident/injury or medically necessary) that permanently alters the form and function of felines. It’s hard to believe that the distal toe digits that house the claws of a cat are removed every day in the United States and Canada. This is done despite the fact that cats, by nature, are digitigrades whose coordination, balance, mobility, flexibility depend on intact anatomy. Dolphins need tails to swim and do all of the beautiful things that dolphins were created to be and do. Cats need paws and claws to defend and protect themselves, stretch, knead, grasp, climb, communicate and do all of the beautiful things that cats were created to be and do. Should a species be penalized with declawing for engaging in a natural behavior like scratching just because it is an inconvenience, unwanted, or incompatible with a human’s environmental expectations or because humans don’t know how to accommodate the behavior?
Just as Winter, the dolphin, by all visual accounts appeared “to adjust” to the loss of her tail, her adaptation to the loss created an unnatural movement that was uncharacteristic of her species placing excessive pressure and stress in corresponding regions. This holds true for cats as well. Without the tips of their toes…other ligaments, muscles, and tendons become engaged and weight is shifted to the back paw pads to overcompensate for the change and imbalance.
There are also psychological and/or behavioral changes that follow a change in form and function. Winter, the dolphin, had to find an inner resolve to want to live which often took the encouragement of her care takers. However, there is a stark difference between Winter and cats who are declawed. Winter developed a trust in humans as every attempt and action was meant to facilitate her well-being. Declawed cats, on the other hand, have the right to distrust humans and fear their intentions often developing an association of pain with trips to the Vet, with being handled, or with people in general. Many times, the pain, trauma, and feelings of vulnerability associated with claw removal lead to exaggerated attempts at self-protection (fear of people, biting, decreased tolerance for handling and petting due to discomfort) and changes in urination and elimination (litter box avoidance and displaced elimination due to painful associations with moving litter with sensitive paws).
It is counterintuitive to suggest that we can modify a living, breathing being’s body without any ramifications to life as they know it or any resounding short-term and long-term effects. Anyone who denies or minimizes the extent to which a being is affected is dismissing and devaluing that being and attaching ideas and concepts that marginalize them as property or unfeeling objects that never remember the trauma.
When there is an understanding and an appreciation for ALL that a species is, then we have the clarity of thought and the capacity for action to implement effective interventions that result in the integration of a natural behavior into our homes. We find that we can share space with an incredible animal who just needs to be accepted and understood.
Powered by Facebook Comments