Canine Acupuncture

Alice had it good. Her Wonderland was sane and predictable compared to the surreal, bizarre world we occupy. Here is the latest manifestation of lunacy and horror to fill the columns of our newspapers.

To the East of Cape Town is a sprawling township called Khayelitsha. Its residents are poor. They live mostly in shacks made out of odd pieces of corrugated iron, cardboard, and timber scavenged from who knows where. They come from the impoverished rural areas to the east, and also from countries to the north: Congo, Mozambique, Ghana, Nigeria. All have come in the hope of achieving a better life for themselves and their families. Like humans everywhere they love their pet animals, but often cannot afford to have them neutered or spayed, so there are a lot of stray animals in Khayelitsha.

One of these stray dogs enjoyed hanging out at the Luhlaza High School, where the children would give her the occasional treat. A person identified only as a “senior supervisor” at the school instructed two janitors to “get rid of the dog” because he felt it was a nuisance hanging around the classrooms. The janitors thought a good way to get rid of the dog would be to bury it alive on one of the sports fields, which they proceeded to do. Fortunately for the dog, they were seen by a member of the kitchen staff at the school and she phoned the Mdzananda Animal Clinic. A vet at the clinic, Dr Edson Man’Ombe, and one of the clinic’s workers, Lazola Sotyingwa, rushed to the school and managed to rescue the dog, which was near death when she was dug up.

The people who did this don’t interest me. Anyone who has such a lack of empathy for a fellow living creature that he would bury it alive is clearly a psychopath who should probably be detained in perpetuity in a hospital for the criminally insane. What does interest me is what happened to the dog after being rescued, and this is where you might find your credulity being stretched beyond its elastic limit.

A spokesman for the Mdzananda Animal Clinic, Jane Levinson, has said that the dog, now named ‘Warrior’, was recovering well and being taken for weekly acupuncture treatments. No, you don’t have to go back and read that again, I’ll give you a reprise in an eye-catching, slantendicular font: the dog is being taken for weekly acupuncture treatments.

There have been plenty of studies which show that acupuncture has, at best, a placebo effect. It has no curative power whatsoever. So this poor animal, having been rescued from being buried alive is now pointlessly being skewered by sharp needles. To get a flavour of the absurdity of veterinary acupuncture, consider the following. Acupuncture is supposed to work by manipulating the ‘energy flows’ in so-called meridians, which have never been shown to exist and are named for parts of the body. The acupuncture points and meridians for humans were merely projected onto the bodies of animals, so we have the ridiculous situation of a horse with a ‘gall bladder’ meridian when horses don’t even have gall bladders.

So why this needless needling? And why would a veterinary surgeon condone this maltreatment? I don’t know, you would have to ask them, but I would urge anyone responsible for this animal to put a stop to this nonsensical cruelty without delay.

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Grumpy Old Man by Mark Widdicombe is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 2.5 License

3 Responses to Canine Acupuncture

  1. Con-Tester says:

    I have a sneaking suspicion concerning the origin of acupuncture, as well as that of the persistent belief that “it works”: Many, many years ago when serfs were effectively enslaved by a small ruling class whose welfare it was their karma to ensure (and woe betide them if they didn’t), they were also more sickly and prone to a multitude of diseases. The ruling class brainstormed some novel ways to get the sick back to their appointed labours as soon as possible so that the former could make proper use of their rightful leisure time, getting on with the business of being utterly useless and being annoyed when this was being threatened. Among the ideas for speeding up the recovery of those lazy, malingering commoners was sticking sharp objects into them—probably based on the idea that each condition had a fixed quota of suffering associated with it, and intensifying the rate of the pain experience would make that quota be depleted sooner, thereby hastening recuperation.

    The life of those commoners was of course cheap, they being in good supply, so all sorts of sticking-sharp-things-into-them exercises were tried. Some of these would have hastened the demise of the patient and would have been rejected except possibly in, er, terminal cases. Others would have been a source of considerable distress to the patient — so much so that they were properly relieved when it stopped, and hence they would have reported feeling truly better after the (mal)treatment. This effect would have cemented the idea that perforating people has therapeutic merit, and thus was the essence of acupuncture born. It was probably the screaming and obvious discomfort of the patients that led to a gradual reduction in the severity of the stickings.

    But I could be wrong.

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