Saturday, August 7, 2010

A Boy And His Dog - A Moral Obligation to Pet Health

A Boy And His Dog - A Moral Obligation to Pet Health

No, I'm not talking about a movie about post-apocalyptic survival.. though considering half the topics I write about these days, it probably should be. I'm going to talk to you today about the moral and social impact on putting value between those bonds that a owner and pet share..
How much is your pet’s health worth to you?

Most pet owners say that cost is a factor when deciding whether to seek medical care for a sick dog or cat. And about 40 percent worry they won’t be able to afford care when it’s needed, according to a new survey from the Associated Press and the Web site

Most pet owners (62 percent) said they would likely pay for pet health care even if the cost reached $500, but that means more than a third of pet owners said that might be too much to spend on an animal.

What if the bill for veterinary care reached $1,000? Fewer than half of pet owners said they were very likely to spend that much at the vet. Only a third said it was very likely they would pay a $2,000 vet bill.

Once the cost of saving a sick pet reached $5,000, most pet owners said they would stop treatment. Only 22 percent said they were very likely to pick up $5,000 in veterinary costs to treat a sick dog or cat.

The poll, conducted in April, involved phone interviews with 1,112 pet owners around the country.

Cat owners were more likely to quit on a pet sooner than dog owners. Among those unwilling to spend $500 on veterinary care, 26 percent owned dogs and 54 percent had cats. But once costs exceeded $500, there was no difference between dog and cat owners and their willingness to seek medical care for an animal.

Notably, income level didn’t seem to influence feelings about how much to spend on veterinary care. Pet owners who earned less than $50,000 answered about the same as those earning more money.
This really brings up the question of if it's morally wrong to be willing to pay perfectly good money to vet bills for an animal while other humans in the world suffer. Let's face it. Millions of people lack fresh water, instead they have to survive off polluted sewage, but isn't this cute?

I've raged against the American delusional dream many times. The whole notion of home ownership is something I wish on no one. But I didn't really think about the other aspect. The whole "two kids, a wife and a Labrador retriever in the front yard". Maybe I shouldn't play into a fucking narrative like that. Just look at this old advertising mess;
I love my dog because he's my "best friend"
-Iams International, 1966
But still, pet ownership has got to be one of the most rewarding things possible and the bonds you make are really strong. It's no wonder why when you're faced with the need to go to the vet that it just hits home how much it would cost to keep this animal alive.

This is a tough subject for me right now because I just found out that the dog my family had for the past 14 years passed away. She had several cancers all over her legs, lots of hairless spots on her skin, riddled with arthritis and her quality of life was just not great.

Taking her to the doctor just confirmed all that and while there was the option of operating, a 14 year old dog didn't have much of a chance when it came to recovery. The short of it is that it would cost close to a couple grand to extend her suffering maybe a year at most.

I sort of see it as if the dog was my grandpa. I would have very little problem, even if it's heartless to say, to put an elderly person out of the misery that is daily life. You sort of have to see it in the same light - the two situations that is.

Sorry, we had to put grandpa down. Caring for him was getting too expensive. Grandpa ran away and he's never coming back. Then again, Grandpa doesn't even remember he has kids anymore anyway. He doesn't get embarrassed when he shit himself because he forgets he did it a couple of minutes later. He had a good run while it lasted, kids. But this isn't a dignified way to end a productive life.

The way I see it from a deep ecology perspective humans have an obligation to treat animals the same as people because of the bio-centric viewpoint. On the other hand there's a question on his quality of life and the extent of work that it will take to make him completely healthy.

To be honest, I'd be more willing to spend my money on medical care for pets than some people I've met. At least when a dog shits on your carpet he feels bad. Humans are objectively the animal least worth spending money on. For proof I invite you to check out the nearest sheet of reflective metal.

Your puppy will do more good in its life than a lot of humans will anyway. Just think about how much money has been spent to keep Dick Cheney alive.

Besides, $2,000 isn't even that much for something you really care about. Would you have spent the money on a more worthwhile cause otherwise? At least you're spending it on a living thing, not a piece of designer furniture or dolce & gabanna pair of glasses.

I think as a society we should be more focused on the fact that you can probably get a pet tested diagnosed and treated for some kind of birth defect or genetic abnormality and it will be done with the same machines, drugs, and procedures as human medicine but will cost less than it would take to get past the receptionist at a specialist doctor's office.

Believe me, having just dealt with an ears, nose and throat specialist.. Those doctors can be pricey. So spending money to save your best friend and loyal companion is a lot less pathetic and morally depraved as it is to spend money on human medical bills.

One species is not better than any other species; we're all a random collection of matter. Useless specks in an infinite universe. Our existence is pointless other than the relationships and bonds we create. So how about if you love pussysnookums so god damn much, you should probably get pussysnookums the medical care she deserves or else surrender her to a responsible owner.

Though I'm very familiar with the average concern of pet owners when the amount of stray cats piles up that I end up feeding. I live in East Los Angeles for most of my life and "fewer than half" willing to spend over $1,000 seems like a high number.

I'm certain that if there wasn't a social net, some people would probably assign monetary value to their kids as well. To my mind, pets are worth more than people. Not to mention worth more than iPhones and the average person seems to spend a good $2,000-3,000 over 2 years for their iPhone instead of a regular phone. So don't tell me they can't afford it.

If you own this, you're not a good pet owner.

Isn't there some sort of pet insurance that should exist? This is America after all. People spend more on TVs and cellphones than they do on pets. But then again, people are all around horrible and take actually caring for pets as an optional responsibility. Just look at the amount of people who have dogs that they just throw in the backyard forever.

So why wouldn't you if you could afford it? Seems like a lot more worthwhile than fixing your car or something because it's a living things with feelings that you have an emotional bond with. Not to mention that if it's your kids pet, the $2,000 you spend on your child's pet is worth not having your spouse and kids hating you forever. Like, I love when you start petting a cat and it flops down on its side with an audible "thump"

Most vets understand that shitty people won't pay for treatment of their pets and vet visits are often out of the question letting the pet suffer instead. So most vets will be happy to help you out with costs or even do most of the shit for pennies on the dollar to levels of free.

You should also help them out some. Donating to good causes that they may have that help the community with pets or the local Humane society goes a long way. You should always adopt rescues. In that act alone you stopped contributing to the evil of puppy mills. Adopting from your local ASPCA or Humane society is the way to go. They always have animals that need homes. Especially at no kill shelters that have pretty limited space to take in new feral/strays.

When you boil it down, morality is entirely subjective and dependent on the viewpoint of the observer. In Mahayana Buddhism, the belief is that life is connected to all others; meaning that an individual's actions have a ripple effect in terms of how it affects others in society. Life is attachment, attachment is suffering, suffering is loss, all things eventually become lost.

Just because one is not human, does not mean that you should treat that creature with anything other than kindness and respect. Remember the eightfold path that one must follow in order to attain enlightenment.

You should love your pet, try and build a dream land for them where they don't have to worry about going hungry or being rained on. Most of us don't have the power, wealth, or resolve necessary to create the Communist utopia that I dream to attain, but if you have a decent job and budget your money just right, you can afford to make a piece of heaven on earth for your dog or cat. If you do it right, they'll enter and leave this earth without knowing about suffering..

That in itself allows me to sleep comfortable at night. While I'm going to miss the Dalmatian that I spent 14 years taking care of, I can at least look in the mirror and realize that I made sure that the dog enjoyed that life. That while she suffered a bit towards the end due to failing health, she didn't suffer long.

Rest in peace Cha Cha.

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