My boss is the sweetest person you’ll ever meet but she has a hard time saying no. She lets clients walk all over her, and takes on hard-luck cases.
It’s a nearly daily occurrence that someone will bring in a patient who has a serious illness or injury and the person can’t (or won’t) pay to treat the pet. Our hospital policy is that in certain cases if a staff member is willing to sponsor a pet, the owner can sign over ownership to the hospital. The pet will then be treated and adopted out to a worthy home. The important part is that the employee must take complete financial responsibility. Before we instituted the “put your money where your mouth is” policy we had numerous sign-overs whose treatment drained the hospital’s budget.
In fifteen years, I’ve had exactly one patient signed over to me. It was a Boston terrier with dystocia and dead puppies. I only took the dog because we had a vet student who needed experience performing a cesarean and I already had in mind a
But my boss, the compassionate soul, has a habit of taking in pets whose owners can’t afford treatment. A few months ago she took over a pit bull with parvo. Granted, it was a sweet puppy, but our hospital is in the ghetto and our neighbors are meth dealers, so pit bulls aren’t exactly an endangered species. Now she’s taken over ownership of another parvo puppy, a runty Aussie mix. I admire her for caring for animals when their owners don’t, but I can’t do it myself.
Having a pet is a privilege, not a right. If I weren’t a vet I would still have a dog. A dog, as in one—not the four dogs, one cat, five birds, two rabbits, and one guinea pig I’ve had since vet school. If you can’t afford a pet, don’t get one. And by “afford,” I’m not talking just food and vaccinations. I’m also talking about a slush fund for the inevitable illness or injury. A few days ago I saw a six-month old Pomeranian puppy with a fractured leg (tibia and fibula, transverse, overriding). We talked about options: orthopedic surgery (best), amputation (okay assuming the other leg stays healthy), splinting (likely to fail), or euthanasia (obviously not ideal but would end the puppy’s suffering). In the end we splinted the puppy but I wouldn’t have had a problem with euthanasia. The puppy is suffering and I don’t want a Pomeranian. I can’t care about my patients more than their owners do or it will break my heart.