I really shouldn’t be giving this guy so much attention, but after our little tiff I’ve taken to checking in on his blog, and the vicious and self-serving marketing strategy is offensive enough to stimulate a response. Dr. Shaw Messonnier is continuing his tirade against veterinarians who stubbornly cling to science over faith-based medicine. His most recent blog post is still combining the blatantly unethical and deceitful mischaracterization of science-based veterinary medicine with the self-serving plugging of his own practices, and his book.
“Every day I see pets whose owners share with me the same tragic story. Their veterinarians have told them there is nothing they can do to help their pets. Many of these pets were seen by their veterinarians for routine checkups or what appeared to be minor problems. During the visit, a serious condition, often cancer, was diagnosed. As a result of the seriousness of the disease, the veterinarian offered no hope. Instead, the veterinarian told the owners that their pets had only a few weeks to live and recommended euthanasia when the pets’ condition declined.”
Of course, honestly discussing the inevitability of death is taboo in our culture, and while scientific medicine has much to offer in the treatment of cancer, and outperforms alternative methods whenever real tests are done (and this study), the reality is that some diseases cannot be cured and treatment must focus on maintaining comfort and a good quality of life. And the ultimate act of care for terminally ill pets is to let them die peacefully and without pain, rather than suffer the frequently awful and prolonged experience of an unaided death.
But Dr. Messonnier prefers confidently offering false, unsubstantiated claims of miraculous benefit from his methods (including diets free of supposed “toxins,” unproven or disproven nutritional supplements to “boost the immune system,” and of course avoiding “unnecessary” vaccinations). He makes wild and unsubstantiated claims about the success of his own methods, based solely on his opinion of what a great doctor he is. For example, “In general, pets treated with a combination of conventional medications plus natural therapies will usually live 2 to 3 times as long as those whose treatment does not include natural therapies.” This seems odd considering the evidence that in human cancer patients alternative medicine may actually be associated with shorter survival, either because of the effects of the CAM therapies themselves or because patients turn to CAM when they have diseases for which no real therapies exist. Still, he insists, “Integrative/holistic/natural/green therapies can offer “hope for the hopeless.” While I can’t always cure all of my patients, I can offer all of them hope and make them healthier. It is not uncommon for me to treat a pet who is given weeks to live by the previous veterinarian and have that pet live many months or even several years!”
In addition to such fanciful “clinical impressions,” and false hope, Dr. Messonnier bases his marketing strategy on mischaracterizing mainstream medicine, with all the cliches about real medicine only treating symptoms an CAM creating health, and so on: “The reason for my success? Unlike conventional doctors, I focus on HEALING the pet rather than TREATING the disease. This is a foreign concept to many doctors. When I was in veterinary school, I was taught to diagnose and treat disease. Our goal was never to improve the health of the pet but simply to win the battle against the disease. When that is not possible, the only other alternative is euthanasia.”
Not surprisingly, the rant ends with a plug for his new book: Unexpected Miracles-Hope and Holistic Healing for Pets. I have no doubt this will be a touching and emotion collection of anecdotes which create the impression, false though it is, that his methods can save those who we closed-minded and ineffectual science-based practitioners have given up on. Despicable and deceitful nonsense couched in the self-righteous language of the enlightened bringing hope and compassion to those abandoned by the cold and heartless practitioners of mainstream medicine. Truly, if it were possible Dr. Messonier should feel ashamed.