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Is spending shitloads of money on pet vet treatment immoral?

Enter here to explore ethical issues and discuss the meaning and source of morality.
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getreal
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Is spending shitloads of money on pet vet treatment immoral?

#1 Post by getreal » June 22nd, 2009, 12:18 pm

Don't know if this is the best place for this, but if not, feel free to move it to a more appropriate thread.

Recently, one of my friend's little dogs became very ill and ended up in the Vet hospital (attached to the Vet school) for 2 weeks being treated with human gamma globulin and many other wondrous drugs. He pulled through, leaving my friend with a bill for over £5000. Luckily he was insured, however the limit is substantially lower than the bill and she's left with a large shortfall. The dog is not cured as such and his immune system will remain compromised, possibly for the rest of his life. He will also be taking a concotion of drugs, possibly also for the rest of his life.

Whilst sitting with my friend in the waiting room we struck up conversation with other pet owners.
One elderly gentleman was here to pick up his 13 year old dog which was being treated for leukaemia, another man was collecting his great dane which had undergone major abdominal surgery for cancer. A woman brought in a dog which attended regularly for treatment of a blood disorder.

I love my pets and look after them well, but this made me think about the morality of treating companion animals with very expensive treatments when we can't even get anti malarials and re hydration salts to people in need.
I'd be interested in hearing people's views on this.
"It's hard to put a leash on a dog once you've put a crown on his head"-Tyrion Lannister.

Hundovir
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Re: Is spending shitloads of money on pet vet treatment immoral?

#2 Post by Hundovir » June 22nd, 2009, 3:16 pm

I have an elderly rescue cat who requires twice daily injections of insulin. This doesn't cost an awful lot actually, (although x-rays and treatment for a damaged cruciate ligament the other year did!)

Until the state takes over completely, what people spend their money on is their own affair I think. Immoral? How do we know that the people spending money on pets are not also covenanting regularly to Save the Children? Or should they not spend any money at all on unnecessaries until every last human is adequately provided for?

To be honest, though, I find myself less and less able to use "moral/immoral" language these days. I don't think I'm becoming a less caring person, it's just that I don't find those terms particularly useful any more.

What about spending my tax money on NHS treatment for people who aren't ill? IVF treatment when the world in general and the UK in particular faces the population pressure it does? :wink:

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mewi
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Re: Is spending shitloads of money on pet vet treatment immoral?

#3 Post by mewi » June 22nd, 2009, 3:19 pm

Animals belong in the wild and only should be taken care of by us humans if something we do ( or another human does ) that would infringe on their living.

So, seeking for animals in a "pet store" ( its basically a slave store ) is unethical in itself. But is it unethical giving your pet medical care? No, that is you taking responsibility for another living thing in which you took responsibility for.

Just remember, you should respect all living things =3
What is the point in being required to type "in my opinion" after every paragraph? I am writing it, who's else's opinion would it be? So why is it relevant to type "in my opinion" to begin with?

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Re: Is spending shitloads of money on pet vet treatment immoral?

#4 Post by Hundovir » June 22nd, 2009, 3:27 pm

Animals belong in the wild? What about domesticated animals? (I don't think there's a lot of mileage in saying they "shouldn't" have been domesticated in the first place.)

I'd prefer that people didn't buy from "pet stores" certainly, but to equate "pet" with "slave" requires a lot more justification than mere assertion, surely?
"Just remember, you should respect all living things"
Just remember, many people don't like being told what to do by "moralists". :wink:

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getreal
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Re: Is spending shitloads of money on pet vet treatment immoral?

#5 Post by getreal » June 22nd, 2009, 3:30 pm

Hundovir wrote:I have an elderly rescue cat who requires twice daily injections of insulin. This doesn't cost an awful lot actually, (although x-rays and treatment for a damaged cruciate ligament the other year did!)

Until the state takes over completely, what people spend their money on is their own affair I think. Immoral? How do we know that the people spending money on pets are not also covenanting regularly to Save the Children? Or should they not spend any money at all on unnecessaries until every last human is adequately provided for?

To be honest, though, I find myself less and less able to use "moral/immoral" language these days. I don't think I'm becoming a less caring person, it's just that I don't find those terms particularly useful any more.

What about spending my tax money on NHS treatment for people who aren't ill? IVF treatment when the world in general and the UK in particular faces the population pressure it does? :wink:
I agree that "immoral" is probably the wrong word to use, but I couldn't think of anything more appropriate.

It makes me feel very uncomfortable when I see us in the developed world, spending huge sums on care for ill animals. Glasgow Uni has a new small animal building (which I don't think is yet opened). It comes complete with MRI scanner and all the mod (medical) cons you can think of.
This just doesn't sit right with me. There must be some places where there is not even 1 MRI scanner in the whole country.
My unease is not at an individual level--I understand that people want the best for their pets, it's more at a macro level. It is just feels plain wrong, I suppose.

and I do subscribe to Save the Children and I hope that if any of my animals becomes life threateningly ill, I will have the courage of my convictions, get the animal euthenaised and give the money I would have spent on treatment to an NGO in the developing world.

ETA: sorry, crossposted with both previous posts!
"It's hard to put a leash on a dog once you've put a crown on his head"-Tyrion Lannister.

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getreal
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Re: Is spending shitloads of money on pet vet treatment immoral?

#6 Post by getreal » June 22nd, 2009, 3:37 pm

mewi wrote: Animals belong in the wild and only should be taken care of by us humans if something we do ( or another human does ) that would infringe on their living.
as Hundovir wrote, what about pigs, chickens, cows etc. Merely sharing the planet with other animals infringes on their living, surely?
mewi wrote: So, seeking for animals in a "pet store" ( its basically a slave store ) is unethical in itself. But is it unethical giving your pet medical care? No, that is you taking responsibility for another living thing in which you took responsibility for..
I think most people in the UK purchase their dogs direcly from breeders and inherit/adopt their cats :wink:

I'm not arguing about day to day care--cuts/infections/ticks even broken limbs. It's the more heroic forms of care I find difficulty justifying.
"It's hard to put a leash on a dog once you've put a crown on his head"-Tyrion Lannister.

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Emma Woolgatherer
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Re: Is spending shitloads of money on pet vet treatment immoral?

#7 Post by Emma Woolgatherer » June 22nd, 2009, 4:16 pm

Hundovir wrote:Until the state takes over completely, what people spend their money on is their own affair I think. Immoral? How do we know that the people spending money on pets are not also covenanting regularly to Save the Children? Or should they not spend any money at all on unnecessaries until every last human is adequately provided for?
Well, there's a case for that, I think (made most famously by Peter Singer). But by and large I agree that what people spend their money on is their own affair. Who among us doesn't spend money on unnecessities. I have a house full of unnecessities [---][/---] admittedly fairly cheap ones, but it all adds up. I do donate regularly to Action Aid, but I could donate a hell of a lot more if I didn't buy books and CDs and gadgets and cosmetics and more than the bare minimum of utilitarian clothes and shoes. And haircuts. I'd save a fortune if I let my hair grow long, or hacked at it myself. Who's to say what expenditures are justified and what are not?

Having said that, I think I'd have had the same reaction as you did, getreal, to the idea of spending money on expensive treatments for serious, chronic conditions in dogs. Especially if it's an old dog or the treatments aren't curative. It does seem that we've got our priorities wrong. Still, a big part of my objection would be about the well-being of the pets, their quality of life. Pets don't have the option of refusing treatments that have unpleasant side effects; their owners make these decisions, and they don't necessarily make them in the best interests of their pets. Sometimes, the treatment itself is unpleasant and distressing, and sometimes, even after expensive treatment, an animal's quality of life is so poor that it's hard to see how keeping it alive can be justified. But pets are lucky. Unlike human beings, they can be killed painlessly instead of having to endure a slow, painful, uncomfortable, distressing and undignified death.

I don't have any pets at the moment, though I'd love to have a dog, and would take in a rescue dog (smallish, non-shedding, neutered) like a shot if the opportunity arose. I wouldn't buy an animal from a pet shop, and I'm distrustful of commercial breeders and dog shows and cat shows and kennel clubs, and disgusted by the way pets have been bred for trivial aesthetic characteristics rather than for good health. And I agree with mewi that if you take responsibility for another living being then you take responsibility for its health care, just as you should take responsibility for ensuring that it has enough exercise and attention and grooming, and a good diet. But I don't think you should be expected to keep that animal alive whatever the cost. I think you should look after its interests, and its interests might be best served by an injection of a bloody great dose of pentobarbital.

Emma

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Re: Is spending shitloads of money on pet vet treatment immoral?

#8 Post by Emma Woolgatherer » June 22nd, 2009, 4:17 pm

getreal wrote:as Hundovir wrote, what about pigs, chickens, cows etc. Merely sharing the planet with other animals infringes on their living, surely?
I'm guessing that mewi is a vegan.

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Re: Is spending shitloads of money on pet vet treatment immoral?

#9 Post by Hundovir » June 22nd, 2009, 4:25 pm

"Run away, run away!" (King Arthur "Monty Python and the Holy Grail")

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Re: Is spending shitloads of money on pet vet treatment immoral?

#10 Post by getreal » June 22nd, 2009, 4:31 pm

I think it's the fact that the quality of healthcare enjoyed by our cats and dogs is better than that of a child in some developing countries.


what if, say, Burkino Faso built a super-duper state-of-the-art animal facility while their citizens go without basic medical care. If the animal facility is built with private money does that make it ok? Would you then still argue this?
But by and large I agree that what people spend their money on is their own affair.
What's the difference?

ETA: cross post with Hundovir. BTW :laughter:
"It's hard to put a leash on a dog once you've put a crown on his head"-Tyrion Lannister.

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Re: Is spending shitloads of money on pet vet treatment immoral?

#11 Post by Hundovir » June 22nd, 2009, 4:40 pm

getreal wrote:I agree that "immoral" is probably the wrong word to use, but I couldn't think of anything more appropriate...

It makes me feel very uncomfortable...
This just doesn't sit right with me...
That's the sort of language I prefer to use these days! And I agree with you to some extent. Though I'm not convinced that I'm a humanist (yet) if that means I am always supposed to put the interests of humans before those of other species.
Emma Woolgatherer wrote:Still, a big part of my objection would be about the well-being of the pets, their quality of life. Pets don't have the option of refusing treatments that have unpleasant side effects; their owners make these decisions, and they don't necessarily make them in the best interests of their pets. Sometimes, the treatment itself is unpleasant and distressing, and sometimes, even after expensive treatment, an animal's quality of life is so poor that it's hard to see how keeping it alive can be justified.
I feel the same way about this. It often seems to me that people's medical treatment of their pets is about fear of losing their companionship rather than what may be in the animals' own best interests. But then again, who are we to say what are "the best interests" of other species? For better or worse human lives are now inextricably linked with the lives of other species and the relationship is a "messy" one.

I agree with you on the pedigree breeding thing as well. I have worked in animal care for the last few years and seen the results.

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Re: Is spending shitloads of money on pet vet treatment immoral?

#12 Post by jdc » June 22nd, 2009, 4:46 pm

Hundovir wrote:"Run away, run away!" (King Arthur "Monty Python and the Holy Grail")
I thought that was the motto of the chiropractic organisations in this country. Was it originally from Python? :smile:
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Re: Is spending shitloads of money on pet vet treatment immoral?

#13 Post by getreal » June 22nd, 2009, 4:50 pm

I agree with you on the pedigree breeding thing as well. I have worked in animal care for the last few years and seen the results.
Totally agree!
The kennel Club should hang their head in shame at what they have done. Greedy breeders too.

I have always owned border collies, and I have always bought ISDS registered collies. With ISDS registration, you can send off your ISDS papers and the kennel Club will automaticall register them too.
This does not work the other way around, KC registered collies are not eligable for entry on the ISDS register.
ISDS do not allow breeding from dogs which have not been found to be free of 2 collie eye diseases, and as a result this is now quite rare in ISDS dogs.
The KC don't care what health problems the dog has, you can breed it if you like and they'll register it.
The ISDS also oversee sheepdog trials, so dogs competing (which must be registered with them) are bred to be able to do a job of work
KC dogs are bred to look a certain way.

sorry for the rant. It infuriates me.
"It's hard to put a leash on a dog once you've put a crown on his head"-Tyrion Lannister.

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Re: Is spending shitloads of money on pet vet treatment immoral?

#14 Post by Hundovir » June 22nd, 2009, 5:07 pm

getreal wrote: sorry for the rant. It infuriates me.
No apology necessary!
Hundovir wrote:It often seems to me that people's medical treatment of their pets is about fear of losing their companionship rather than what may be in the animals' own best interests.
Hundovir wrote:I have an elderly rescue cat who requires twice daily injections of insulin.
Yes! I know! (Just in case anyone thinks I haven't noticed. :wink: )

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Re: Is spending shitloads of money on pet vet treatment immoral?

#15 Post by getreal » June 22nd, 2009, 5:09 pm

Wel, we all have our little failings :laughter:
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Re: Is spending shitloads of money on pet vet treatment immoral?

#16 Post by mewi » June 22nd, 2009, 9:16 pm

Hundovir wrote:Animals belong in the wild? What about domesticated animals? (I don't think there's a lot of mileage in saying they "shouldn't" have been domesticated in the first place.)

I'd prefer that people didn't buy from "pet stores" certainly, but to equate "pet" with "slave" requires a lot more justification than mere assertion, surely?
"Just remember, you should respect all living things"
Just remember, many people don't like being told what to do by "moralists". :wink:
I'm not a moralist, I am a Humanist Naturalist ;o

Edit: I feel like writing more yay, equate pet to slave? I don't think that's entirely difficult, most countries ( probably all that I can think of ) treat animals as property and the rights of the animals are usually only the rights of their "owners", so I think the usage of the word slave is quite accurate.

Not to offend any pet owners, I wont demonize them, I'm just saying why I feel pet ownership is unethical, please don't be offended anyone ^.^
Emma Woolgatherer wrote:
getreal wrote:as Hundovir wrote, what about pigs, chickens, cows etc. Merely sharing the planet with other animals infringes on their living, surely?
I'm guessing that mewi is a vegan.

Emma
You are correct! However, on a logical sense I can understand the need for survival of the fittest when your life is in danger due to starvation it is ethically sound to take the life of something else in order to sustain your own. This is the order of things... However, a lot of the time, we kill and eat meat without the actual need for it, when we have other substitutes.

If it were up to me, I wouldn't eat plants, but I have to live somehow, and those plants that unwillingly sacrifice their lively hood to sustain me, are to be greatly respected as well =3
What is the point in being required to type "in my opinion" after every paragraph? I am writing it, who's else's opinion would it be? So why is it relevant to type "in my opinion" to begin with?

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Re: Is spending shitloads of money on pet vet treatment immoral?

#17 Post by getreal » June 22nd, 2009, 10:08 pm

If it were up to me, I wouldn't eat plants, but I have to live somehow, and those plants that unwillingly sacrifice their lively hood to sustain me, are to be greatly respected as well
If you didn't eat plants and you didn't eat animals, WTF would you eat?


...or have I misunderstood you?
"It's hard to put a leash on a dog once you've put a crown on his head"-Tyrion Lannister.

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Re: Is spending shitloads of money on pet vet treatment immoral?

#18 Post by Hundovir » June 22nd, 2009, 10:40 pm

mewi wrote:equate pet to slave? I don't think that's entirely difficult, most countries ( probably all that I can think of ) treat animals as property and the rights of the animals are usually only the rights of their "owners", so I think the usage of the word slave is quite accurate.
Yep, that's what I meant - some reasoned justification for the assertion! I agree. Although you might be pleasantly surprised by the U.K. Animal Welfare Act 2006
http://www.opsi.gov.uk/acts/acts2006/pd ... 045_en.pdf

The Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals summarizes the way it applies to pets like this:
Under the new Animal Welfare Act, which came into force at the end of March 2007, anyone who is responsible for a pet has a legal responsibility to meet the five basic welfare needs of pets. These are:

a proper diet, including fresh water
somewhere suitable to live
any need to be housed with or apart from, other animals
allowing animals to express normal behaviour
protect from and treatment of, illness and injury.


I'm just saying why I feel pet ownership is unethical, please don't be offended anyone ^.^
I'm not offended by reasoned argument!
If it were up to me, I wouldn't eat plants, but I have to live somehow, and those plants that unwillingly sacrifice their lively hood to sustain me, are to be greatly respected as well =3
Now that's where I have problems with many vegan views. There seems to be the implication that there is something disordered about the natural world. Many fundamentalist Christians would suggest that the way in which creatures prey on other creatures is the result of the "fall".

Also, in what sense do plants "unwillingly sacrifice" their livelihood? Isn't this just sentimentalism? In what way does it make sense to suggest that plants have any sort of will? Does a snowflake unwillingly sacrifice itself when it melts?

I suppose the "problem" would be "solved" if animals could photosynthesize?

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Re: Is spending shitloads of money on pet vet treatment immoral?

#19 Post by Paolo » June 23rd, 2009, 3:39 pm

Is spending shitloads of money on pet vet treatment immoral?
No, but sometimes it's stupid and sometimes it's cruel. Much as I love animals, I consider keeping them alive by extensive vetinary intervention is selfish when their treatments require a comprehensive adjustment of their lifestyle or substantial amounts of discomfort. Life is about quality, not quantity (for animals as well as people).

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Re: Is spending shitloads of money on pet vet treatment immoral?

#20 Post by getreal » June 23rd, 2009, 3:51 pm

Paolo wrote:
Is spending shitloads of money on pet vet treatment immoral?
No, but sometimes it's stupid and sometimes it's cruel. Much as I love animals, I consider keeping them alive by extensive vetinary intervention is selfish when their treatments require a comprehensive adjustment of their lifestyle or substantial amounts of discomfort. Life is about quality, not quantity (for animals as well as people).
I worded that very badly. I was commenting about the money and facilities we have here for pets as complared to the facilities there are (or, more correctly, aren't) for children in some developing countries.

I accept that people are free to spend their own money as they see fit, but to me is seems wrong (I can't think of a better word) to have vet hospitals equiped with all the latest of gear and children are dying for lack of innoculations.

I'm well aware my argument is wooly--which is actually why I posted the question--I was looking for some other views, and an opportunity to think mune through a little more carefully.
"It's hard to put a leash on a dog once you've put a crown on his head"-Tyrion Lannister.

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