Saturday, November 04, 2006

Things I think about while walking

I really think that our priorities as a society are totally screwed up. The things we think are just so important often puzzle me. I wonder how we can get pushed so far off track and into this odd place.

One example of this is pets. I love animals. I think it would be great to have a pet that our family can properly care for. That said I have to wonder about pet owners. When Evan was in the hospital I love to watch Animal Planet with him. One of the shows that we like to watch is Emergency Vets. I enjoy the heart warming stories of vets saving lives. Sometimes my enjoyment turns to disgust.

On a recent episode an older dog was having heart problems. The vets then proceed to do an echocardiogram on this dog. This is the same test that has been frequently done on Evan to check out his heart and make sure things are OK in there. This is an expensive test and the cost for the equipment alone is insane. Why the heck is something like this being done on a dog? There are people that are not getting the health care they need and yet some owner spends the big bucks to get one for an old dog.

I know what it is like to have an attachment to an animal. When we moved to San Diego after my husband got out of boot camp we adopted a beautiful black cat that I named Norbert. He was to be my buddy while my husband left me alone in a strange city for three months. A few months before we were to leave the city and move up to our present location Norbert started throwing up his food.

Like a good owner I took him to the vet. A few tests were run and diet changes were made with out any effect. The next step was supposed to be an ultrasound to see if Norbert had cancer. All the easy fixes had been tried and we were down to this hard choice. I opted to refuse the ultrasound because of the cost. Even if we had done the test and it had shown cancer then I would have ended up putting the poor cat to sleep any way but then I would have been a lot poorer.

There is no way I would have wanted to try chemo for a cat. It only gets you a few more months and the animal would not even understand why you were putting them through all this awful stuff. I loved Norbert but I also loved him enough to end his suffering and not force him to hang on for my own selfish reasons.

I also can't believe how much pet crap there is out there. Have you seen the insane amount of pet clothing there is now? There are people that hardly have any clothing and people are wasting money on an animal that already has a fur coat attached to them. My mind is completely boggled. The biggest splurge I made for Norbert was to buy a Christmas collar for him. Dressing up an animal (unless you are a young child playing dress up with your dog *blushes*) is just nutso and demeaning to the poor animal.

I will get off my soap box now. Thanks for listening to my ranting.


chichimama said...

I agree, for the most part. Although I must admit when our cat was attacked by a dog, we spent a fortune at the vet's for ultrasounds and surgery. But she was five, and the vet was pretty confident that they could save her. Which he did, and she is now a happy, fat and spoiled cat.

And I have to say, I'm not sure what we would have done if the vet had been less sure of the outcome. At the time I was so traumatized by seeing my husband rip my cat out of the jaws of a dog, that I think I would have agreed to anything that might have had a shot of saving her. But she was so young.

On the flip side, when my childhood dog was ill with cancer, we put her down right away instead of doing chemo or whatever else. She was old, and had lived a full life. It was her time.

And we never dressed any pets up :-).

Brittney said...


I love your blog. Your on my favorites list that I check everyday.

After reading through what I wrote. I'm on my soap box bit, but I hope you find something worthwhile in a different point of view

I'm a pre vet student, and applied to vet school this year (still biting my nails to see if I get in), and I can understand where your coming from on some of this. There is way to much pet stuff out there (clothes, water foutains etc). I have five pets (hazard of being a zookeeper/kennel woker) and although they are spoiled, they aren't THAT spoiled.

But in terms of healthcare for animals--I think medicine and vet medicine go along together. Techniques developed for animals can be adapted to humans, and vice verse. We use animals to test medications, surgical techniques (transplants for example), and the like. In my opinion we should continue to use those techniques to help animals.

I am not saying we should do transplants for dogs/cats, that is nuts. I have seen the effect chemo has on a dog, and I would never opt for that coures of treatment for my own animal. Your right, they don't understand.

But echocardiograms, okay. I've had one myself, and I wouldn't think twice if I had the money to figure out what was going on with my dog. Abdominal ultrasounds, okay. But, I have my limits as mentioned previously.


Zephra said...

I have been faced with that kind of decision before and opted to put the animal down. I felt bad but food for my family is more important. I wonder about people who decide to pay for it.

happy mommy said...

I gotta agree whole heartedly with you on this. I know that people love their pets, but I see it becoming WAY out of proportion with other things.

We had to put a dog to sleep a few years ago. He had bone cancer, and they told us we could go through chemo and all this other treatment and that he would get it again after that. (I guess with animals bone cancer is always reoccuring)

To me, it was a no brainer. Put him to sleep and save time, money, and his suffering. But I was surprized how many people kind of gave me weird looks at that decision.

Angela said...

I totally agree with this. Recently I was watching the Dog Whisperer and had to just change the channel (I really do like the show) when the pet owner could not figure out why her dog was so awful. This dog had more toys than my child. We can often make the case that our pets here in the US live better than many people, but this dog was "living" better than my kid. Of course if I was as indulgent with my kid as the dog owner was, she would be awful too. I also realized as I changed the channel I was saying a little prayer that went like this "Please Lord don't give that woman any kids, no one will want to play with them."

The Laundress said...

Hiya Awesome,

This post made me pause and think. Glad you posted on this topic.

I have a whole houseful of pets. Always have and probably always will...

It is weird, facing a barrage of medical interventions for a very old pet or very sick pet. I think it is important to put the needs of the pet in perspective and do what is reasonable and humane.

Crazy elaborate interventions often have more to do with the needs of the pet OWNER and/or the vet's bankroll.

Our bulldog was eleven when he got cancer. One of the canine oncologists suggested we could have his front leg and shoulder amputated. This might have worked on some breeds of dog -- but a bulldog? Might as well chop off all of the legs.

We gave him pain medications and had him euthanized when that stopped working... and I think my husband and had our hearts break that day.

But after seeing the INSANE number of elaborate medical tests that CAN be performed -- because I think my son had every one of 'em... Well, just because a test can be done doesn't mean it should be done. Or that anybody will actually be able to interpret the results.

Sometimes, I think doctors and vets get bedazzled by new medical technologies and drugs, so that they lose the focus on what is best for the patient.

Great topic, off to ponder on this one.

fancypantsnancy said...

well you know the vets socked us big bucks for both princess and Daisey only to tell us shortly after that they couldnt save either of them- why can't they just tell us their cases were hopeless? Dont tell me they didn't suspect.That is one reason I dont want any more pets.
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