David Grimm ponders the moral dilemmas created by recent advances in veterinary medicine:
When our dogs and cats used to get very sick, we could justify putting them to sleep because it was the only option. Now, in an age of kidney transplants for cats and chemotherapy for dogs, euthanasia has begun to seem like a cruel way out.
Yet not everyone can afford to save their pets. And some go bankrupt trying. … “It’s wonderful that people are willing to spend $10,000 or $20,000 to deal with their sick pet, but ethically it puts us in quicksand,” says Douglas Aspros, the former president of the American Veterinary Medical Association and the manager of a veterinary clinic in White Plains, New York. “If a client wants me to do a $20,000 surgery on a cat, the practicality has to go beyond, ‘There’s someone willing to pay for it.’ As a society, should we be promoting that?” Some vets, says Aspros, have started to use companies that offer credit to people with marginal incomes—just so they can afford their vet expenses—and the pet owners end up paying very high interest rates. “How much responsibility do we have for getting them into that?”