When I was in high school, I found my childhood dog, Cody, lying at the bottom of the basement stairs unable to move. He wasn’t injured, but for some reason he could not get up the stairs. I knew something was wrong and called a friend to drive me and Cody to the vet. The vet advised that he was seriously ill and that saving him would cost over $1,000.
What do you do?
I had to let Cody die. My parents could not afford to keep the dog alive, because…well…he’s a dog. Despite how much we love our pets, at the end of the day they are just that: pets. A human life has no monetary value when something bad happens, but a dog and a cat is worth only as much as you can afford.
In the age of dog sweaters, toilet training litter boxes, memory foam pet beds and dog strollers, people love their pets more than their kids, spouse and parents combined. People are spending tens of thousands of dollars for Fido’s chemotherapy (that’s a real thing). It’s leaving vets wondering if they should intervene with the poors.
More accurately, veterinarians are struggling with whether or not they should so much as mention an expensive procedure to pet owners who cannot afford it. Apparently, people are putting themselves in major debt to get their pet hydrotherapy (again, fucking real!) after spraining an ankle. This is the same pet that, if push came to shove, would tear are jugular apart and feast on our fatty flesh during a crisis.
A hundred years ago, saving any animal for any reason was asinine. The most famous pet story of all time is Old Yeller, and they shot that fucking beast right between the eyes. If Old Yeller was written today, there would be a whole new chapter at the end where the family decides to sell their house and college funds to send Old Yeller to a rabies specialist who proceeds to run elaborate lab tests and eventually cryogenically freezes its head until a cure is found.
Humans have always maintained a healthy relationship with animals. Another way to phrase that is humans have always maintained a healthy distance from animals. Putting the same value on an asshole Chihuahua as one would with their prodigy child reveals that we have grown emotionally unstable. A person who cashes in their 401(k) to save Mr. Snuggles is a person who should be spending that money on therapy to find out that daddy didn’t love them enough so they’re overcompensating for their inability to love another human by smothering their pet to…life. Trust me, Mr. Snuggles wants to die. Let him.
Spending $20,000 to ensure Spike can live two more years with a prosthetic leg that most vets have a hard time obtaining suggests a world where everyone is wealthy and all world problems have been solved. Yet, we’re living in an era where everyone is broke due to the widening socioeconomic gap and issues like school shootings, war and gay marriage are being debated.
But as long your pet lives another day as a prisoner in your home, all is right with the world.