Ethical and legal aspects of sterilizing pregnant companion animals

In my role as a volunteer with the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, Queensland, Australia, I had occasion recently to co-author a paper with Dr Mandy Paterson considering ethical and legal aspects of sterilizing pregnant companion animals:

“Sterilizing Pregnant Companion Animals: Ethics and Law” (April 2021) Journal of Applied Animal Ethics Research doi:10.1163/25889567-BJA10013

An abstract of the paper appears at

Cats in our community

In my role as a volunteer with the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, Queensland, Australia, I had occasion recently to co-author a paper considering aspects of cat desexing in Queensland.

Paterson, M.B.A.; O’Donoghue, M.; Jamieson, P.; Morton, J.M. The Cat Desexing Policies and Activities of Private Veterinary Practices in Queensland. Animals 202010, 841.

The full text of the paper is available at

Ancient Origins of the Zodiac

A piece I prepared on this topic was published in 176 (September – October 2019) New Dawn 61-64.

This is an updated, broader and more well developed revision of an earlier piece I wrote on The Lion Man and the Age of Leo.

New Dawn is an excellent magazine first published back in 1991. It publishes material exploring ancient wisdom and new thinking.

New Dawn has an online presence at

Are Animals Spiritual?

On 21 August this year a woman died in a road accident in China. Tragically, more than 700 such deaths are likely to have occurred in China on that single day. However, in the months since, her passing has become a matter of international public interest as her canine companion has continued to stand steadfastly by the guard rail near the spot where she was killed. Allusions have been made to Hachiko, the Akita dog that for almost 10 years from 1925 waited at the end of each day for its dead owner outside a train station in Tokyo (, although there are many examples upon which one could draw of such canine “loyalty”.

I wonder though if the commonly used term “loyalty” properly captures the sentiment behind these actions. I consider them more properly understood as “faith”, a steadfast and unwavering belief that their human companion will rejoin them. Is “faith” spiritual? Are the actions of these dogs evidence to a human mind of a spiritual ethos? And the deeper question: Are animals spiritual? Continue reading “Are Animals Spiritual?”

Of Great Apes and Lessons for Humanity

Ota Benga was born more than a century ago. He was a Mbuti, a short statured indigenous peoples of the Congo. As a four foot 11 inch pygmy with teeth filed to sharp points, he found himself in 1904 headed to the United States to be part of an anthropology exhibition. By 1906, he was working in a role helping maintain the animal habitats at the Bronx Zoo before the interest the public took in the young Ota saw his gradual but ultimate degradation into one of the very exhibits he had been helping maintain. In a sad poststcript, in 1916, aged 32, Ota took his own life.

Ota’s treatment evokes a feeling of revulsion by the standards of our day. Yet Ota shared his cage in the Monkey House with an orangutan named Dohong. Dohong’s circumstances were no less desperate yet even today there is little public interest in his story or the degradation he experienced. Continue reading “Of Great Apes and Lessons for Humanity”