I am a fourth year veterinary student. This month, I’m rotating through Cornell’s Equine and Farm Animal Hospital, where I care for food animals like pigs, cattle, goats and even sheep. The approach is different from treating the family Labrador, but the goals are often the same — to quote part of the Veterinarian’s Oath, “the protection of animal health and welfare, the prevention and relief of animal suffering.” The apparent paradox is not lost on me. Though I’ll wake up at 2 a.m. and rush to the hospital for a cow with a uterine torsion, I have no qualms going to Five Guys for a burger at the end of the day. As veterinarians, we are the only health professionals who eat our patients.
What is more emblematic of the United States’ corporate capitalist narrative than Air Bud? A well-groomed, intelligent Golden Retriever frees himself from an abusive owner to provide both athletic success and companionship to a fatherless boy. Yet, as Air Bud nears its 20th anniversary in a year and change, it is imperative to reconsider this touchstone family film. Is Air Bud a story of basketball glory and family cohesion, of friendship between human and other animal, or is it truly a parable of an oppressive corporate system cloaking the workers’ alientation in false empathy? Buddy, the film’s protagonist, represents the indoctrinated masses.
Grímur Hákonarson’s Icelandic film, RAMS, won’t warm you up. Set in a secluded, mountainous valley, winter rolls into the lives of Gummi and Kiddi, two sheep-rearing brothers, much as it does in Ithaca, and brings with it an ironically accessible story of death and rebirth. Despite the wind and snow, RAMS captures the warmth of our approaching spring. The film combines an understanding of humanity and nature in the lives of Gummi and Kiddi, two aging men, neighbors and antagonists. When scrapie, a brain-eating sheep disease, infects Kiddi’s herd, veterinarians demand that every sheep and ram in the valley be slaughtered.
So much love is in the air during springtime that feline communities across America are experiencing a population explosion. As spring is mating season for cats, hundreds of unwanted kittens are flooding animal shelters everywhere, arousing desperate needs for more volunteers and foster parents.
Currently, there is a trap-neuter-release program at the local Ithaca Society for the Protection of Cruelty to Animals designed to control the wild cat population. The wild cats are captured, vaccinated and neutered or spayed, and then released back into the streets. The cats that go through this program are no longer capable of reproducing and are even less likely to be disease carriers.