I confess: As a young thing I thought little of using pirated software. I blithely ripped songs off Web sites of dubious repute. As remains the case with so many less-than-mature, Web content junkies, I wasn’t exactly moved to equate that brand of stealing with actual stealing –– never mind that other consumers had been paying more for the same products because of my personal penchant for the five-finger discount.

Enter animal medicine...

In my late twenties, after working hard for what seemed like a mere pittance in light of my unforgiving student loan repayment schedule, I acquired a sudden and severe sensitivity to those who would refuse to pay their veterinary bills –– especially after I’d offer a payment plan or significantly discount my services as a personal expression of pet-loving solidarity. How could they be so mean? So thoughtless? So thieving?

So it was that I developed an aversion to all kinds of less-respected theft –– including the “content pirate” varietal I’d formerly considered more like “borrowing temporarily” than truly stealing. But fast forward another decade or so, and there I was, again “borrowing” pics off the Web, apparently convinced that the ubiquity of these images warranted their continued misuse.

After joining PetMD, however, my creative betters easily succeeded in changing my mind on this. After all, it was argued, just because “everyone uses them” doesn’t mean all these animal pics that abound online are meant to live on my site with nary a thought or a credit to their rightful owners.

Which is why I’m turning over a new leaf as part of the early evolution of FullyVetted (an RSS feed and cleaner graphics are on their way, too). No longer will I steal animal-themed art for the beautification of this blog. Instead, all those animal artists who don't get the respect they deserve or who suffer the theft of their work through the infuriating ease of piracy will now have a new (if teensy) platform to play on.

For those who wonder how I’ll ever have the time to find specific post-appropriate art for every single entry, you’ll be surprised to hear that Flickr offers a neat way to search for all kinds of pictures. As part of this search, my criteria included commercial availability and alterability. After sourcing my favorite image, I’ll be sending a friendly e-mail and offering a nice credit at the end of the post to seal the deal. The pic then will be Fully Vetted!

It’s a win-win-win-win. The image is legitimately mine to “borrow.” The art and its maker get their due. You get a better quality pic than you typically got treated to here before these measures.  And maybe you’ll find you really like this artist’s work. Perhaps you’ll even buy some. The circle is complete. Kumbaya will be sung.

Any additional thoughts? Know any great animal artists? Can you offer other art-sharing methods? I’m always open to other ways to search and new approaches to explore … so offer them up below.

Dr. Patty Khuly

Today’s art: Pirate Dog! by Rachel de Stijl. This pic of a "pirate" Frenchie reminds me so much of my late Sophie Sue that I couldn’t resist using it as my first example of great pet photography.