Trying To Build A Buff Chicken

Dr. John Kaya
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Wednesday - August 31, 2011
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Veterinarians receive odd requests from their clients all the time. For the most part, the pet’s best interest is there, but sometimes good intentions may end up being harmful to pets. One such situation occurred a while back.

Carl, a former football player, walked in with his 2yearold male bull terrier named Scrappy. As usual, it was a very lively appointment as we swapped jokes during the exam.

Scrappy was very healthy except for the occasional bout of circling when he chased his own tail. This is a common syndrome seen in bull terriers, and thankfully Scrappy had a mild form of the disease. When I asked Carl if there was anything else he wanted to discuss, he surprised me with his response.

“Actually Doc, I did want to ask you about a certain drug,” Carl responded sheepishly. “I forgot its name, but vets use it to help animals with muscle loss. Basically animals get buff when they take the drug.” Carl smiled and pointed to his flexed bicep.

I chuckled as he posed, then responded, “I’m familiar with the drug you’re referring to. We sometimes use this medication on older dogs or those pets that undergo surgery and need a boost during rehab. Scrappy is a young, strong dog and, in my opinion, doesn’t need this medication.”

“I don’t need it for Scrappy,” hesitated Carl. “I have other plans for the drug.”

I started to see where this conversation was headed and decided to stop the inquiry right away.

“Carl, I hope you’re not planning to use it on yourself. I’m not a human physician and can’t knowingly prescribe the medication for Scrappy if you’re going to take it.”

Carl started to laugh. “It’s not for me, Doc. I stay in shape the conventional way, by working out at the gym. Actually, I was thinking about getting some roosters and well ... you know.”

I smiled because I did know. The controversy sur rounding cockfighting is well known. There are those who view it as culturally linked and others who think it’s animal cruelty. As a veterinarian, anything involving animals hurting each other is difficult to condone. Again, I had to address the legal and ethical implications of his request.

“Carl, I cannot prescribe anabolic steroids for your roosters. Now, it’s another situation altogether if one of them broke a leg and during the rehabilitation period needed a little help building up muscle. Otherwise it is out of the question.”

With that Carl almost fell over cracking up, as he explained what he would do with his chicken if it broke its leg. He seemed shocked that I would even suggest surgical repair. Thank goodness we had a longstanding doctor-client relationship. This situation could have been very uncomfortable.

As a former high school football player at 5 feet 5 inches and a massive 135 pounds, I understood the importance of gaining size and strength. But the image of a musclebound rooster on steroids seems a bit comical. What’s next? Would roosters eventually be tested for performance enhancing drugs as in professional football?

The webs we weave. Take it from me; it’s always best to leave nature alone. The wild side enjoys being aunaturel.

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