Because STDs are slowly siphoning away the lifespan of a pet somewhere right this very minute--strangling our furry comrades' each and every breath with the ache of discharge, the terror of unrest, and the emotional trauma that accompanies contracting a disease in one's most private, personal Netherlands from a trusted and possibly loved counterpart--I shan't mince words.

To spear my razored pen directly into the heart of the matter: Virtually all members of the animal kingdom everywhere are, at any given time, having UNSAFE SEX.

Sometimes defined in the human world as "barebacking," "raw-doggin'," or "room for cream?", this irresponsible practice is abhorrent enough in our own species. However, its crossover into the pet world, a world we are only just beginning to understand, is profoundly troubling for those of us with special propinquity to animals--be it a physical proximity, in the privacy and coddle-space of our own homes; or a mental one, as admirers and patrons of the living wilds.

As a feminist, it is alarming that over half of female animals are at risk of contracting a sexually transmitted disease. As a humanist, I am irate that my fellow homo sapiens would dare inflict their own distorted moral ignorance upon their pets--jeopardizing dogs, cats, even canaries--who have acted as friends and confidantes to their clearly unworthy masters. And as an animal lover, I am greatly saddened by that plague which rains death and ruin among our meek, wretched animal friends.

What bothers me most, however, is that this epidemic can be stopped in its tracks with even the smallest amount of education.

According to P.O.A.S.T.D. (Pet Owners Against Sexually Transmitted Diseases), 97% of domestic pet owners are unaware that animal condoms even exist. Furthermore, in an unofficial poll of Portland-area veterinary clinics conducted by The Feminist Rx, none had even heard of animal prophylactics. Some of those clinics polled reacted with befuddlement, skepticism--even anger--at the mere suggestion. Moral outrage wrought by one's own ignorance is a mighty high mountain to scale.

Nevertheless, this plague of self-righteous Philistinism is simply unacceptable. How might we take action, if our health professionals aren't equipped with the tools with which the action might be taken?

Please, for the safety of those animals with whom we share this fragile earth, teach your pet about the importance of animal protected sex. You could save its life.