Monday, July 6, 2009

What would you do?

I get asked that a lot at work. As in "what would you do if it was your pet?" Most of the time I can't give a truthful answer to that question. That's because the people asking are usually not in the same frame of mind as me. Usually the pet in question has been allowed to deteriorate to the point of no return, is terribly injured from being hit by a car, has a very expensive condition to diagnose or treat, or is otherwise in a position I would not have allowed my pet to get into. I usually answer with what is best for pet, even if it's euthanasia.

The bottom line in most cases is that people are financially or otherwise unprepared to own pets. This may be offensive to some people but quite frankly, in my opinion, having a pet or child should be a privilege, not a right. It's not ok to get a pet because you want one and then let it suffer with fleas, arthritis, dental disease, or other conditions when you can't afford to treat it. Pets, even (perhaps especially) free ones come with basic needs that need to be attended to and cost money. Yet I see so many people who are unable or unwilling to afford even the basics, mush less dental care or minor surgery. If only I could impress upon people the importance of preventative medicine-it's so much cheaper and better and for your pet.

I understand that not everyone has unlimited funds to take care of their pet but letting things get out of hand and allowing the pet to suffer is not acceptable. Pet owners need to be prepared for the basics from the beginning and have some money set aside or credit card or something for the incidental costs of having a pet.

And unfortunately society seems to foster this idea that everyone should have a pet. Pet stores, most breeders, and even some shelters do not screen people before adopting out or selling them a pet. I can see this happening with those stores and breeders who are in to for the money but seriously there is no excuse for a shelter or "rescue" adopting out a pet to someone who only wants to give it a rabies vaccine and nothing else, or has multiple pets in their house who aren't on heartworm prevention or receiving other basic care. I realize there is a pet overpopulation but does that mean we let pets go to bad homes to make adoption rates look better? I don't know the answer but I do know that it's a frustrating problem.

End of rant. Thanks for listening.


manymuddypaws said...

good post, and I agree. Mostly.

I do think that most people wait too long before trying to do something. And I do know there are LOTS of people who should not be owning pets (or having children for that matter)

But, I do think that even people without a lot of money can make great pet owners. They may not be able to afford a dental every few years, or a couple thousand dollars at the drop of a hat for an emergency, but as long as they provide day to day care, and are willing to go the extra mile to figure out HOW to make those expensive vet visits feasible I don't see an issue.

I am a single woman, living alone, and I own four dogs. I work full time, plus teach. I don't make a ton of money, and I don't have a huge savings account. BUT- My dogs come first, and I do what I can, and will beg or borrow if it came to it (and it has)

Money shouldn't be the sign of a great pet owner- but I do think that you are right about people having to be prepared in the event of something like that.

Paint Girl said...

Thank you for posting this, I agree with you 100 percent! I have not had a high paying job for most of my life, but have owned 6-14 animals at once, and still will get proper vet care for my animals. I now don't have a job, due to a recent layoff, and my animals still come first, food, vet bills, etc. They will always eat before me, I would live off mac and cheese to make sure my animals are well cared for. I even have a million dollar cat to show that I really care for my animals, even if "some" say "it's just a cat". Well, to me he is my child, not "just a cat"! That cat, Dakota, means the world to me and it is a miracle he survived what he went through.
I also believe people get an animal just because it's "so cute", whether they can afford to have one or not. It isn't just about feeding them. Just like a child, you can't just feed a child, you need to love it, nurture it, vaccinate it.
Ok, I am done ranting too! I could go on forever!! I know you see so much in your vet clinic, and I am sure it is so frustrating!

Sara said...

I agree Nicki. Our local humane society just lowered the fee for cat adoptions, because they have so many. If it was the price that was keeping people from adopting the cat, then maybe they shouldn't have a cat.

Anonymous said...

Just came across this blog. I just recently graduated vet school. A friend of mine told me her vet recommended a dental for her cat, but she thought the vet was just telling her that so he could make money. So I offered to look at the cat's teeth. I pulled back the lips to reveal bleeding, red, nasty gums. I told her, "Yeah, that probably hurts. She needs a dental. How would you like it if your gums looked like that?" Her reply was to tell me that the cat had no soul so it didn't matter. She claims to love this cat like it's her child, but then justifies leaving it in pain because some book written thousands of years ago (the Bible) says animals have no souls? Grr. You don't need a soul to feel pain.

Nicki said...

I agree with you that you don't have to have a lot of money to be great pet owners. we have a lot of client like this-they prioritize and spread things out and ausualy get what is needed done and do the best they can when something major comes up. But we also have a lot of people who come in reeking of cigarrete smoke and claim they can't afford heartworm prevention. In most cases it's more about priorities than money, but sometimes it's both.

I know most of this may seem easy for me to say because I can care for mt pets for a low cost but I had pets before vet school and found ways to pay for what they needed and only owned what I could afford. And since school I've had 3 pets needed advanced care at the vet school that I could not provide. Yeah credit cards!

Roslyn said...

Here, here, sister! I don't have the answer either but I can't understand why anyone would want something they can't take care of. Like why get a car and have it sit in your driveway cause you can't afford the gas.

T said...

I agree with you, it's disturbing how some people think that they're entitled to have any pet they want, even if they know they won't be able to afford proper care.

And I don't understand what thought process a lot of people are going through when they choose to not pursue treatment when a problem first arises.
For instance, frequently clients won't follow the doctor's recommendations for brushing teeth or using an oral care diet to prevent dental disease and then balk at the price of a cleaning when it becomes necessary.

I don't understand why someone wouldn't put in a little extra effort for prevention considering what it will save them and their pet in the long run.

Lauren said...

Well said.