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Love for a person, or love for a pet. Life is life, yes? So why should the species matter? But it does. If a human becomes ill, hundreds of thousands of dollars can be spent to make that human well, even when the illness is one that will ultimately, most likely, end in death. But when an animal becomes ill with the same, or similar, disease, how much money spent on preserving its life depends on what its owner can afford. Often the choice is to terminate the pet’s life rather than spend money in on-going medical care.

But don’t judge these fiscally aware owners too harshly. Be assured, no one can judge them more cruelly than they do themselves. Setting the price tag on a pet’s life is heart-breaking and damn difficult. The owner must take into account basic requirements for their own life: shelter, food, safety. If they’re income only allows for these basic needs to be met, with a bit left over to provide the same for a pet, then what are they to do when the pet’s needs suddenly exceed the income they have coming in? Let the illness go untreated, and allow the pet to suffer until it’s too-soon death? Treat the illness and risk being unable to afford the three basic necessities of life?

Or should those who can’t afford to spend money hand over fist to give a pet as much care as a human receive be banned from having pets at all? Should financial limitations determine that people who already must do without some things must also do without the companionship, comfort, and pleasure of having a pet to share their life?

Vets refer to pet owners as ‘parents.’ People often refer to a pet’s owner as its mommy or daddy. This used to offend me, but on deeper thought, these pretend relationships are more accurate than I had previously assumed. A pet IS a child, totally dependent on the owner. And while owners don’t love their pets more than their children, most owners do love their pets with something akin to parental love.
So what price do you put on love? And how the hell do you live with yourself afterward, knowing that you drew a monetary line in the sand, and the pet you love so well just crossed it? Or is about to….

Date: 2011-01-22 07:19 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] trinibelle.livejournal.com
Anna,

I just had to do this last week. A week ago today, actually. These are such hard questions, and I would never judge someone who had to draw the line--no matter where it was. I certainly wouldn't after the last few months of trying to find what was wrong with Lizzie.

You live with yourself, because you do the humane thing. When she's suffering, and you can't fix it with your resources, you give her a peaceful end. You don't judge yourself by what anyone else could or would do for their pet, but by what YOU can do for her.

I can tell you that no matter how much money you spend on a sick pet, when it comes time to call it quits--whatever the reason--it will be a heart-rending decision. I still second guess myself, and the vet told me straight out that I had gone above and beyond what other people might have done. Not just in money, but in effort. I gave her daily shots for a month, six pills a day, and if I could have cured that dog through the emotional energy I spent on her, she would have lived to 100.

My dog was my child surrogate, yes, but I have always known in my *head* that she is a dog. I'd only have her 13 years, max, that (some) humans had to come first, and that I would someday have to make very hard decisions, not as a 'parent' but as a steward.

Her life was given into my care by God or Fate, and having taken it on, I also took responsibility for making sure that she had a comfortable life, and did not suffer in her end. That last one is so much harder than the first. Not holding her while the vet put her to sleep--I'd done that before, for elderly pets. But making the decision to call it quits.

With Lizzie, the question came down more to what I was willing to put HER through for the slim possibility of maybe a mostly comfortable life. But I won't lie. Money factored into it, too. But I think the two things go together. Spending money is not always the kindest thing to do for a pet. It's inhumane to put an animal through the same things that you would do for a human. Maybe you could give a cat chemo therapy, but how would you explain to her that you're only making her sick and miserable now so she can MAYBE feel better later. Just because we CAN doesn't mean we should.

For obvious reasons, this has become a very long answer. If you want to talk, I'm here. If you don't still have my number (I don't always save things like that), drop me a line.

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