Friday, August 03, 2007

Heroic Measures for Fido

Karl asks me to discuss the ethics of heroic lifesaving medicine for pets. As someone who spent over three thousand dollars on a cat she adopted from Little Rock Animal Control, I am perhaps not an unbiased commenter. Regardless, I do wonder why this is even an issue.

We don't typically look down on people who could have bought a Honda Accord but instead chose a Lexus, or people who take expensive vacations, or those who dine out regularly. They choose to spend their money on an extra-smooth ride or a couple of weeks in Kenya or several dozen memorable meals because these things bring them pleasure. How is spending an equivalent amount so that you can continue to have the pleasure of an animal's company any different?

If costly treatments cause a pet undue suffering, that's another thing. One has a moral obligation to consider the price your pet pays for your utility. But that calculation is something pet owners must always perform, whether they are deciding to move to a house with no yard for the dog or if the cat should be declawed. Heroic treatments should be considered carefully, as the decision is likely to be made at a stressful time, but there's nothing substantively different about them in this sense.

Some people value their pets as highly as others value flat-screen televisions or trips to the Bahamas. Why should we cast aspersions on their love of companionship?
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