College of Veterinary Medicine

From the Dean

Companions Furever

by Bryan 20. February 2012 11:30

Many generations of WSU DVM graduates will remember PJ from anatomy and his talent with creating exceptional anatomic specimens, many of which were sold to other universities or veterinary practices. Several years ago, PJ began to get requests from individuals to preserve their companion animal when it died.  PJ being PJ, he set out to satisfy himself that he could do so with the quality that made him (and WSU) proud.  Having satisfied himself he could do so, he subsequently fulfilled these requests from a handful of individuals, preserving for them their recently deceased pets, ranging from an iguana to small dogs.

I never thought much about it since then -- to me it is just another manifestation of the bond between people and animals and I don't judge whether it is a good thing or a bad thing.  I was prompted to recall PJ's efforts when we were c,ontacted recently by an independent filmmaker who is doing a full-length documentary called Furever.  Although it is mammal-centric, the title is a clever play on "forever", and I'll overlook the detail that iguanas do not have fur (and "Scalever" just doesn't do it).

This filmmaker, Amy Finkel, became interested in the subject when she read a story of a taxidermy shop that had begun to do the same thing PJ was doing, freeze-drying pets so they could stay with their human after their death.  More background on Ms. Finkel and her film can be found here and here.  The story of her filming and interaction with various faculty and students in our college can be found here.

Those of you who have interacted with PJ know how much he cares about animals and probably wouldn't be surprised that in spite of his sort of crusty ex-Marine demeanor he did not give a second thought to, without judgment, fulfilling the requests he received from those who wanted to honor their human-animal bond in this way.

What do you think? 

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Comments (10) -

2/20/2012 3:36:27 PM #

Sid Gustafson

Hello Dean Bryan,
I think you should begin to pay appropriate attention to the welfare of living animals. Why not add an ethicist and veterinary behaviourist to you faculty to bring WSU up to the current animal welfare education expectation standards, please?
WSU has long lacked a proactive animal welfare development program. Contemporary society is preferring that you begin representing the health and welfare of domestic, research and teaching animals in an appropriate scientific fashion.

Regards, Sid Gustafson DVM
WSU 79

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