How much would you spend to save your pet's life? It is a dilemma no one wants to experience _ making life and death decisions.
The usual issues that arise in such a case are religious, moral and ethical in nature and are coupled with the concern for the patient's expected quality and longevity of life. The quandary is a bit different when the patient is not human. In this case, the patient was a family's moggy.
With a family pet, one often debated concern is money. The question is, exactly how much are we willing to pay to save it? This is not to say that the quality of life question is not considered or that there are not ethical, moral and religious issues. Rather, it is simply that all of these concerns are discussed as they relate to cost.
A question such as, "What quality of life will moggy have if I spend the cost of surgery?"
This is more likely to be overheard at the veterinary clinic than at the hospital.
Few people would not spend a dime on medical treatment for their pet. I have heard some say that they never spend money on veterinary costs. If their pet gets sick, they would check the ``free-to- good-home' ads. Others have commented that the amount of money they would spend to save their pet from dying was the same as the original purchase price of the animal _ if they bought their pet for $500 they would spend only $500 to save it.
On the other side of the coin are those who would spend every last cent to prolong their beloved pet's life. I have heard many people refer to their pets as their children and have witnessed owners' strong emotional bonds with pets.
I was one of them.
Four years ago, I lost my beloved tabby mate, MO. As the one constant in my life, MO went everywhere with me. On holidays, into town, in my rucksack on the back of my bike. It was just me and mister MO.
Christmas 2005, my father was ill and I went without MO for the first time to Queenstown for a family reunion. I arrived home on January 14 and my daughter told me MO had not come home the previous night. I knew then that something was very wrong. An hour later, I saw MO limping up the drive. He had obviously waited for me to come home. I picked him up, looked into his eyes and I knew then that I was going to lose him.
A raft of tests followed and the diagnosis was that MO had toxoplasmosis that had gone to the brain. I said goodbye to MO on July 17. Over eight years, he had given me more than I could ever possibly have repaid and if I could have saved him I would have given every last cent I had.
The family pet's lifespan continues to increase with advances in technology and medicine. Medical procedures that are considered routine today were largely unheard of a couple of decades ago. With this increase in longevity come the diseases of old age.
Pets experience more age- related diseases now than before because they live long enough to experience them. It is a bit of a trade-off, we get to spend more time with our pets but, in order to do so, we have to foot the bill. Where do you stand?
- John Esdaile is manager, Tauranga branch SPCA