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Who Deserves A Pet? The Irreverent Vet Speaks Out

By: The Irreverent Veterinarian

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Pets can give us a tremendous amount of love, affection and devotion. Doesn't everyone deserve that?

This is an interesting and controversial topic. And, I have to admit, it is a difficult question to answer. The Pet Place editors have asked me to give this question some thought, and after thinking long and hard I'm ready to speak my mind. If you would also like to speak out on this subject, you should take the Pet Place poll. I'd be interested to read your thoughts. Go to: Who Should Have a Pet Poll

As the Irreverent Vet, I speak my mind. I don't want to make anyone angry or upset, but I'm here to give you my opinion and tell it like it is. It's my job to give my unbiased opinion and speak the truth regardless of how it makes other veterinarians or pet owners feel. That being said, the question that I'll address today is this ... Who Deserves to Have a Pet?

Who Deserves a Pet?

My first thought is that everyone deserves to have a pet. Pets provide an unconditional source of love, companionship and loyalty that we all need in our lives.
But what if you can't afford to properly care for the pet? Is that really fair to the pet? Pets are like our children. They need love, food, medical care and a responsible person to put that all in order. The person who owns a pet must be able to meet that pet's needs. And the sad truth is that everyone is not equipped to do that.

What Made Us Consider This Issue?

The topic of "deserving" a pet may be controversial, but it is a very valid question. Two things in particular caused us to examine the issue more closely. First, there is the hot issue being discussed across the country - the woman who recently gave birth to octupulets. This has been the hottest media story in quite some time, and for good reason. This woman is on the public dole. She had six kids and then decided to have more - eight more, to be exact. Clearly, she can't afford to care for them. She is not working and receives public support. She hasn't paid her mortgage in 10 months. She didn't have the means to handle her responsibilities for her six existing children, yet she decided to have more. Is that fair to her kids? Is that really fair situation for anyone?

Just because someone can do something, doesn't always mean that they should.

In this case, my opinion is no. If you are having trouble supporting your six kids, having eight more is not helping anyone, including those kids. So no, you do not deserve to have more children.
The other event that brought the "Does Everyone Deserve to Have a Pet?" question to the table was a story in a recent Pet Place newsletter. Dr. Debra had dinner with a colleague, an emergency room vet, who was disturbed about a case he had just seen. In case you did not see that newsletter, here is the story:

A cat owner came in with her sick kitty, Bubba. She said that Bubba was hiding and acting lethargic. When she came home from work at night, Bubba would be in the same exact spot she had left him in that morning. She would take food to him but he wasn't interested. She also noticed that his color was a bit funny (sort of yellow tinged). After about four days of this, she took her cat to see a veterinarian.

Dr. Debra had asked, why would anyone wait four days? By the time she brought Bubba in, he wasn't just "sick" ... he was REALLY SICK!

There are several causes for a cat to quit eating, lose weight and become jaundiced. All of them are potentially very serious (and life-threatening). Tests can help determine the underlying problem but ultimately the cat needs to be hospitalized and receive fluids and other medications.

So, Dr. Debra's friend had recommended just that. The owner declined everything that he suggested. She said that her cat was "just a cat." She said that it would be ridiculous to spend money on it - especially hundreds of dollars, which is what she was looking at if she was to do the best (and right) thing for Bubba.

Well, the woman left with her cat. She didn't do anything to help him. Her parting comment was, "This is ridiculous - they should make health insurance for cats."

Dr. Debra couldn't believe it. Leaving without providing treatment for a sick cat that clearly needs medical attention - and calling it "just a cat"- that REALLY bothered him.

Dr. Debra felt so strongly that he felt he should tell the story to his readers in that newsletter. And while many readers agreed with him, Dr. Debra also received a letter defending (or at least considering other views) of t

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