Interesting thoughts on vet care / ethics of life

fluxlizard

Avid Member
Came across this, this morning and found it got me thinking some.

Thought it might do the same for others, regardless of where you draw your personal line on how far to go with veterinary care for your animals.

Maybe unlike many who have come into the hobby in the last decade or two, I remember a time when attitudes were a little different (and IMO in some cases a little more sane) about what a lizard was and was not. When they were considered "specimens" and not "adoptees" into one's family. It had nothing to do with care quality or affection from their owners- a "fine specimen" or "fine example of a species" were high praise given to an animal that appeared healthy and happy.

I have personally always disliked the term "adoption" when used with animals. As an adoptee myself, it has always made me uncomfortable to hear my experience compared to the experience of acquiring a pet such as a dog or a lizard. I hope the resulting bond is a little more for human beings than for animals. Although I have shed tears at the time of death of lizards we have had and loved as household pets and even mourned one individual iguana for several years after he passed, and feel I can relate to the sentiment of animals as "family" I am still uncomfortable with the term adoption when used with animals and when it comes down to it, I would feed my lizards to my kids in a cataclysmic scenario- I think that clear line of distinction disqualifies my animals from the same affection I have for real family.

Anyway this article kind of hit home for me right now. I guess I'm still a little sore because I recently spent about $1000 on vet care for a green iguana. Several hundred dollars of which were entirely unnecessary - this money had to do with anesthesia, which was expensive, for drawing blood and other fluids from an infection, and this was sent to a lab for analysis, and this analysis was several hundred dollars all by itself. When I sent son to vet with this lizard I already was 90+% certain it had an infection and required antibiotics- that is why I sent them there in the first place. But vet without batting an eye about expense, ordered the bloodwork. Suddenly she had son believing it could be almost anything from cancer to gout which was just silly- gout looks different. Anyway the end result was an overnight stay, anesthesia, expensive labwork, and the lab work not coming back for several weeks- paid for but useless as antibiotic for possible infection was already in use after first visit. We could have skipped everything and gone straight to antibiotic and waited to see if the most likely cause was correct before digging into other options further and saved many hundreds of dollars. This is the first time I've worked with a "modern" vet who hasn't been practicing for a few decades and I'm wondering if the casual regard for finances is the new norm. And in the end, because of the nature of these infections, I'm wondering if we aren't going to be back at this again in 12-18 months for this lizard anyway. Hoping because the bloodwork, x-rays, etc looked excellent that this lizard will be worth the money and be here for many years to come for my son- as the son will now be in school for several years (which is one reason I'm sore about $$- son and his brother are both starting university this year and money is already extremely tight) and not even here to enjoy the lizard. He's going for a degree in biochemistry and plans to follow that up with veterinary school. I keep thinking this is a lizard that is not different to many people in the world than the chickens I keep in the back yard. They are sold cheaply as a delicious source of meat or bbq for street food. I don't think many people would justify $1000 for treating a chicken. Honestly- I was upset at cost, but soothed a little because I was doing it for the happiness of my son. I don't resent the necessary care so much, and would probably not resent the bill had it been for medicine or if the results of the labwork had some great revelation, but my resentment comes from the unnecessary expense incurred with the way the vet went straight from it is most likely this and lets go ahead and treat for that and see if there is any improvement after a few days to it could be anything we need expensive testing and while we wait for tests to get back we will treat for most likely cause anyway.

I remember some of the little cheap but excellent information on husbandry for the time books that got me interested in keeping and breeding chameleons and other lizards by phillipe de vosjolli used to recommend determining a price, a value the owner put on the lizard and the amount willing to be paid for treatment *before* taking the animal to the vet and then being frank with the vet about this so the vet could keep that in mind when determining course of action for treatment or euthanasia.

I'm thinking those kinds of thoughts might be considered unethical now by many or most people. How the world changes...

I saw my father wrestle with some of these changes in our social views as veterinarian himself, who taught at a vet school. When he began his career, most vets were similar to himself- men who had grown up on farms and ranches around animals in a work setting where the harsh realities of life and death were daily events and the use of animals for human consumption benefit was just an accepted part of life. By the time he retired, most students at his school were from well off families, often from private college backgrounds who grew up in cities and towns, separated from the natural world and the realities of agriculture. Pet owners, not farmers and ranchers. I remember clearly a day when he came home in disbelief that they were no longer allowed to have students euthanise the animals in one of his classes because the students (not necessarily his, and only a handful but they threatened the school with a lawsuit of some kind) were complaining about ethics. The school's solution was that the animals had to be euthenised by faculty prior to the students arriving for class so nobody's feelings would be hurt or unnecessary anxiety on the part of students. He just couldn't believe it and was dumbfounded at the ridiculousness of the situation- it didn't prevent the death of the animals, but the students didn't have to watch them die before working with them in class right after they died.

Anyway, those are my random thoughts- the actual article-

https://www.yahoo.com/health/i-spent-thousands-to-keep-my-sick-cat-alive-i-123677556113.html
 

MsCham

New Member
Looking at their suffering and not ours is the key to modern ethics

Ah... this one's hard. I recently finished an animal ethics course in University (Post-Humanism and Animal Ethics) and we dove into everything from slaughterhouses, to animals used for testing in labs, to the common household pet. My prof was actually really good at just delivering the facts of what actually happens and leaving it up to us where to draw the line. Do you go vegetarian or vegan? If, by the qualifications of things being alive and able to suffer - and there are studies now that are going into the sentience of plants... where do you draw the line? The class was actually maddening! However, one of the main things I took from this course is from Gaverick Metheny. He argued against those philosophers that argued that "...moral conscience should only be considered for those individuals who also possessed certain levels of rationality, intelligence, or language, or to those capable of reciprocating moral agreements, which likewise implies a certain level of rationality, intelligence, or language." (Matheny, Gaverick Utilitarianism and Animals)

I find a common ground between this arugument and the argument presented in the article provided. However, it is in this quote from Matheny that I found my line to be drawn, and thus my grounding: "Why would an animal's lack of normal human levels of rationality, intelligence, or language give us licence to ignore his or her pain?" From this I've defined my lines: it doesn't matter of what level of sentience or reason the animal may or may not have, but whether or not this creature can suffer pain, and it is therefore our duty, with the creature under our care, to ensure that all pain is minimized, at whatever cost to ourselves! I agree, however, that with the emergence of greed around animals (the mentality that "I couldn't live without them" or "I could keep them alive for a few more years so I don't suffer.") this is where the problems arise - where we are no longer looking just at the animal's suffering but our own.

As pet owners, we need to put our own suffering aside and look only at theirs. Would treatment increase their quality of life, or lower it? If it is the latter, as in the example of the animal needing chest taps, etc, it is time to look at putting the creature down. Because for me, as Jeremy Bentham argued so clearly, "It is not can they reason, but can they suffer" and it is our duty to limit the animal's suffering, whether that mean through treatment or ethical euthanasia - for their sake, and not ours.

Again, as this topic is one that will forever turn in circles, I do not mean to say that I myself will not have a conflict of interest when it comes time to put my babies (both reptile and mammal in nature) down. I have also spent countless $$ in vet treatment like xrays when a simple drug could have been prescribed first, as it is in human treatment. Merely, this is where I draw the line for myself and seek to aim towards. Just because we CAN extend a life, does not mean that this assists the animal's suffering, thus it is this we must focus on before anything else.

Good article to bring up for discussion though! :)
 

Lathis

Chameleon Enthusiast
I read that article too. I thought it raised a really important discussion regarding human want vs animal need.

Did I WANT my childhood cat to live forever? Absolutely. Did I NEED to subject him to daily injections, a special diabetic diet, and constant vet visits to extend his life to three times a wild cat's average? Absolutely not, and we chose not to. Was I heart broken when it was time to put him down because of quality of life issues? Without question, but it was right thing to do.

I have the same issues with human healthcare. My aunt has had cancer three times, with a double mastectomy, a radical hysterectomy, and now she is facing more surgery. It's a rare and ultimately fatal cancer that runs in her family. My cousin, her daughter, will likely fight it, too. From the beginning, my aunt has chosen not to do chemo or radiation. I fully respect that decision, honestly i might have made the same one, but many members of my family do not. It's an interesting break between the "life at any cost" vs "quality over length" beliefs.

I'm not saying one belief is better than another for humans, but for animals who don't have the same ability for consent and rational thought, I will always make quality of life decisions even when it's emotionally painful for me.
 

JoeVet

Member
Sorry but I cannot sympathize with someone's decision to to do all they can for their pet and then later regret that it cost them money. Veterinarians will work with people and their finances to provide the best care possible. Sometimes that care is palliative and the disease will be inevitably be fatal. Its up to the owner to decide how much they are wiling to spend to provide care versus simply providing euthanasia. Your $1000 is nothing compared to the >$60,000 bills that some pet owners will spend to prolong those lives by a few days. The veterinarian cannot make you spend that money and they ensure you are not surprised by that bill by requiring you sign an estimate of charges.

Veterinarians are coming out of school with $100,000 in debt and being offered starting pay that can be had by a high school graduate. They are not getting rich by charging these fees. They provide the best care that they can at prices that are way too low for them to break even. Many give away much of their time because the cost for them to have a decent salary would be too expensive. They have to use the same expensive equipment and medication that you and everyone pays through $400 monthly health insurance payments which supplies the human hospitals. No one pays a monthly fee for life to buy that equipment for the vet hospital. That equipment comes out of the pockets of the practice and ultimately from the veterinarian.

If your pets are not worth your money don't sign the estimate. Simple. If you sign you are agreeing to it and complaining later is a disservice to the veterinarian who is devoting his time to your animal.
 

nick barta

Chameleon Enthusiast
Site Sponsor
Scott,

Wow…this may be a 100+ response thread!

My wife grew up watching her mom and dad cutting off the chickens heads that she had played with in her yard so they could eat. So her views are more utilitarian than mine were when we met. I had pets that were a constant factor as I moved from town to town, so they were a stronger emotional tie.

Your story about what your dad viewed over the decades really makes sense, and gives me a greater appreciation for the "why are there 2 sides to this issue?"

My current dog vets are of the new school, and it is hard to leave without spending $100. There are always questions about further preventative tests, vaccines, and hypo-allergenic foods, all leading to higher animal costs.

Amy may have the greatest response to this thread (Go Canada, eh?).

When the treatment is about how WE feel, instead of what the animal NEEDS, it is hard to make rational decisions.


Well done Scott, this could get interesting!

CHEERS!

Nick:D
 

jajeanpierre

Chameleon Enthusiast
Fluxlizard, I hadn't appreciated how "adopting" a pet could be offensive. Thank you for pointing that out to me. I, too, am disturbed when pets are referred to as children.

I think an animal deserves a good life but is not entitled to vast sums of money spent on it. Each animal has a value attached to it. Some have a higher value based on their emotional worth or their rarity or how much disposable money the owner has.

Society has distanced itself from its agricultural roots. It creates a very distorted view of pets and where the food on their tables comes from. I wish everyone who eats meat or animal products would learn about commercial farming and the implications to animal welfare.

I've wrestled with this arbitrary value I place on animals. I've found vets are quite happy to nickle and dime you to death. Who can object to spending $50 plus the vet visit to give a kidney patient IV fluids? But it isn't a single $100 or $200 visit. It adds up and I think vets are part of the problem. I suspect the biggest most profitable part of a modern dog and cat practice is geriatric care. It is in the vet's best interests to keep a sickly animal going.

There have been three incidents that really brought home to me how a plan and a dollar value should be established before the animal gets sick.

I have a background of breeding and racing Thoroughbreds and breeding and showing dogs, so I have extensive experience with vets. A racetrack or farm vet will use a business model to base their recommendation to euthanize. Costs are the last thing a pet vet brings up.

The first incident was one Sunday when I found a 12 week old pit bull stray on the road in the baking sun trying to die after being hit by a car. I scooped him up and took him to my vet. I had never had to ask this vet to actually do any any real vet work for me other than to vaccinate. I was prepared to pay for the emergency visit and euthanization. I left the puppy at the clinic to be euthanized. A couple of days later I stopped in to settle the bill only to discover that without asking me she had vaccinated him, done a heart worm test, wormed him with a $17 worming pill (which is outrageous), x-rayed and put a cast on him. She neglected to notice (intentionally?) the complete fracture of the humerus bone ABOVE the cast she put on. To acknowledge it would be to acknowledge the dog needed surgery, something she knew I would never agree to for a stray. In the end, the dog cost me thousands. I fired her.

In the second case about the same time with the same vet, a very old cat was doing poorly and had bad teeth. We had blood work done to rule out kidney disease. That was the decision point--if the cat had kidney failure, I would euthanize. If it didn't, I would fix his teeth. She said his kidney's were fine and he was doing poorly because of the teeth. She outright lied to me. When I fired her over the puppy above, I took the cat and his records to the new vet only to see on her own records that when she tested him he had kidney failure and she knew it.

The third case was a very old dog I was giving a home to. He was a very famous dachshund and rather than let him spend the rest of his life in a cold Canadian kennel, I brought him at 14 years of age to live out his final years in the Caribbean. He ended up with kidney failure. Instead of euthanizing him, I somehow ended up treating him with IV fluids. I was nickled and dimed to death over a dog that wasn't even mine and who I only had because of all he had done for the breed. He didn't have a good end of life. I am angry at myself and my vet for how the dog ended up.

Even after experiencing those three animals' health crises, I still can't euthanize when I should. If my vets would be more pro euthanizing, it wouldn't be so hard. I can remember taking in an old cancer-ridden dog to be euthanized and the vet talked me out of it. The dog lasted another couple of months, and I ended up at 8-months pregnant putting down a favorite show dog. Why did they not just put him down when I came in prepared to do it? What good is another two months? It wasn't good for the dog and it sure wasn't good for me to be grieving a month before my son was born. Instead they pushed treating and who can deny a special animal a few hundred dollars. But it never is a few hundred dollars, is it.

I see many on this forum advocating a person going into debt for a $30 lizard. Or advocating x-rays and extensive work up on a very old sickly animal. Some can afford it but I think it should be the exception rather than considered the norm.

I suspect the old-time reptile keepers were quite adept at euthanizing one of their animals. I doubt this forum could cope with the fall out from a discussion on how to humanely dispatch a lizard.

Thanks for bring up this very controversial topic.
 

MissLissa

Avid Member
I worked in two separate exotic vet offices for a cumulative 10+ years as a veterinary assistant and then another 5+ as a clinic manager, and currently work as an animal care technician in a research laboratory. I have a lot of experience with families and researchers having a tough time affording the care of their animals. I think that each individual person has to make a decision about each individual animal, taking into account the financial situation, quality of life, etc. It is neither cut-and-dried nor easy to decide the course of veterinary treatment where a beloved pet or a critical research specimen is concerned, especially if there are additional complications like tight finances, ongoing palliative management, difficult treatments, etc.

There is a balance that has to be struck between compassion and wisdom. Wisdom without compassion may lead to unethical decisions, but compassion with no wisdom leads to a lack of practicality that can ultimately be equally unethical.

However, in a private situation, the ultimate decision rests on the family. The best you can do is gather all the information you can (including the recommendations of your veterinarian, like treatments and costs) and make the best choice for you, your family, and pet. In my opinion, you are ultimately responsible for the animals in your care, as well as your finances and emotional health, not your veterinarian.
 

jajeanpierre

Chameleon Enthusiast
However, in a private situation, the ultimate decision rests on the family. The best you can do is gather all the information you can (including the recommendations of your veterinarian, like treatments and costs) and make the best choice for you, your family, and pet. In my opinion, you are ultimately responsible for the animals in your care, as well as your finances and emotional health, not your veterinarian.
On the surface, MissLissa, what you say is sound and logical. The trouble is, people need guidance in end-of-life decisions. Yes it is ultimately my decision but a vet sways me and they do it when I am most vulnerable.

Doctors do the same thing with terminal human patients. Why is so much money spent on terminal patients in the last two or three months of their lives? Is the (expensive) treatment killing them or are they and the patient and family unable to accept the inevitable? How much is two months more time worth?

I do think vets exploit their clients, but I don't know how calculated it is. They might be just like the client who is not willing to let go.
 

Lathis

Chameleon Enthusiast
Has anyone seen the movie The Fountain?
Just reading the name of that movie makes me teary eyed. One of my absolute favorite films.

After some thought on the posts above, I'll say one more thing. I agree that medical care for a pet is a very personal decision and one that is never made in a vacuum. Financial considerations, personal coping capabilities, logic, emotion, and numerous other factors get weighed into the decision. The one thing I disagree with is the use of the initial dollar amount being the deciding factor against vet care.

JJP, I am oversimplifying your comment on the "$30 lizard", and for that I apologize. I am not trying to put words in your mouth, just using this as a talking point. I honestly believe that when you take an animal into your home as a pet, you do that knowing it is dependent on you 100% for its care. The "$30 lizard" never was and never will only cost you $30. There must be an expectation that reasonable healthcare is part of the pet-human contract. No one buys a pet assuming that they never have to feed it, but we see here time and time again where people refuse to take a chameleon to the vet for readily treatable, common illnesses because of cost. "I've already spent $XX" or "I only spent $XX" or "I don't have money for that" are all common responses. What the definition of "reasonable healthcare" may be will vary among keepers; that is part of the personal decision that no one else can make for you. However, I do find it unacceptable to let an animal suffer or die of an untreated disease or injury based on an unwillingness to pay for vet costs. Unfortunately, there is far more of that in the world than unnecessary extension of life care. At the very least, an animal entrusted to our care deserves controlled euthanasia.

Okay, I'm done. *steps off soapbox* I think it's something that every pet keeper should think seriously about and come to a decision before being immersed in an emotional situation. Fluxlizard, thanks for starting this conversation.
 
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jajeanpierre

Chameleon Enthusiast
JJP, I am oversimplifying your comment on the "$30 lizard", and for that I apologize. I am not trying to put words in your mouth, just using this as a talking point. I honestly believe that when you take an animal into your home as a pet, you do that knowing it is dependent on you 100% for its care. The "$30 lizard" never was and never will only cost you $30. There must be an expectation that reasonable healthcare is part of the pet-human contract. No one buys a pet assuming that they never have to feed it, but we see here time and time again where people refuse to take a chameleon to the vet for readily treatable, common illnesses because of cost. "I've already spent $XX" or "I only spent $XX" or "I don't have money for that" are all common responses. What the definition of "reasonable healthcare" may be will vary among keepers; that is part of the personal decision that no one else can make for you. However, I do find it unacceptable to let an animal suffer or die of an untreated disease or injury based on an unwillingness to pay for vet costs. Unfortunately, there is far more of that in the world than unnecessary extension of life care. At the very least, an animal entrusted to our care deserves controlled euthanasia.
I think you took the $30 lizard comment out of context. The whole quote was: "I see many on this forum advocating a person going into debt for a $30 lizard."

I wanted to suggest that doing everything possible to keep an animal alive was not always in the best interests of the family or the lizard.. Most on this forum have suggested a "loving" owner would live out of a car rather than let their animal die or be euthanized.

I don't owe any animal anything that might jeopardize my family's financial stability. I've seen comments of people suggesting that if you take on an animal that you also take on bankrupting your family to keep it healthy. That's not the contract I make with any animal that comes into my care. By the way, I spend tens of thousands of dollars a year on vet bills. I don't skimp on vets.

Recently, I've seen some really sad cases on the forum where it sure looks to me that the animal really needed to be humanely dispatched as soon as possible. I am very disturbed that some people refuse to go to the vet for fear of having to pay a few hundred dollars to euthanize. How well would a discussion about the most humane and efficient methods to dispatch a lizard go over on this forum? Maybe it is a discussion we should be having considering all the needless suffering of all the mangled, broken MBD chams I have seen lately.
 

MissLissa

Avid Member
jajeanpierre; I have yet to work for a vet who exploited people, thankfully! The vets I have worked with have all been conscientious people with the welfare of the animal ultimately at heart. I have never heard a vet suggest keeping an animal alive just so the checks keep rolling in. In fact, if that was the case, they would very quickly start losing staff, myself included. The last thing I'd want to see is an animal unnecessarily suffering. I suppose there can be bad apples in any profession, though. I'm just glad I've never had to work with one. That would be an impossible situation.

Edit: I do agree, however, jajeanpierre, that there is a point where a blunt "put that animal down" is the only answer. Like I said, I don't think there is "one true way". And I certainly would never encourage anyone to beggar themselves for the care of an animal. People ultimately must come first. Then animals.

On another note:
End-of-life decisions are not just about the animal, it's true. I have been part of situations where the family just could not let go. In some cases, there have been some extreme extenuating circumstances. In one memorable case we had a gentleman who was unable to humanely euthanize his wife's dog; he had recently lost his wife, who was 9 months pregnant, and his 2 year old toddler in a car accident and could not handle even one more grief. In that case, we not only walked him carefully though the terminal diagnosis and palliative options, we also directed him to a pet grief counseling service. He even had his personal councilor call our vet to speak with her about the dog. We ended up working with the gentleman, managing his dogs discomfort and illness, until he was able to bring himself to say goodbye. Later he told me that if we had just said "That dog should be euthanized" he would have walked out and never come back, and his pet would have died an agonizing death instead of spending a few weeks on strong analgesics, and then a gentle goodbye at our clinic. This is not a man who wanted his pet to suffer; this was not a vet who wanted to bleed a man in pain of every dollar. This was just a crappy situation where everyone was doing they best they could with what they had. One cannot separate the good of the animal from the good of the family; both ends have to be taken into account for sure. In the above situation, keeping that dog alive could be construed as unethical. However, sending that man home that first day after putting his dog down would, in my opinion, have been even more unethical considering his mental health state and very likely would have done him a great deal of harm. There is no one true way, no clear cut solution in every situation.
 

fluxlizard

Avid Member
Just want to clarify a couple of points and a quick comment-

Your $1000 is nothing compared to the >$60,000 bills that some pet owners will spend to prolong those lives by a few days.
My comment-
I have no problem with others who have the resources ($60,000) to do this, doing this. So here is another thought- should only those with such resources keep animals?

The veterinarian cannot make you spend that money and they ensure you are not surprised by that bill by requiring you sign an estimate of charges.
One thing I want to clarify- part of my frustration was based on my background (grew up with many vets, family and friends, reasonable well grounded people, and I have seen this kind of infection several times over the years). I sent my son to the vet with the lizard, pretty certain of what was going to transpire when he got there (ie- a vet exam, return home with antibiotic for lizard). Not what transpired at all and I only found out about the "estimate" later on after it was already signed (not by me, but paid with my money). Also I sent him to a vet I trusted, not knowing the vet had taken on a new partner (who was the one who ended up treating the lizard). So the frustration in my case is actually a result of my not being there to consult with the vet (my fault- better believe I was there for the follow-up visit).

Veterinarians are coming out of school with $100,000 in debt and being offered starting pay that can be had by a high school graduate. They are not getting rich by charging these fees. They provide the best care that they can at prices that are way too low for them to break even.
etc...

Vets who do not break even do not stay in business. Financial realities make it impossible.

While I understand the costs of vet school, and believe that the educational system is largely milking the public for all it is worth currently (college costing many times what it did a couple of decades ago), I think your thoughts do not necessarily relate to my gripes in this particular situation.

And in this case, my gripe was not with the necessary costs, or the exam fees, etc. but the unnecessary and as far as treatment transpired, irrelevant ones, and mostly with the cost of the lab tests, which were not done by the vet, but were sent away and passed on to me. (Although the vet did make some money on the procedures necessary for the unnecessary testing, the bulk of it was for the lab's fees). The lab made the money on that, not the vet. So these costs were not only not necessary, but did not help the vet financially either.

Keep in mind I have a father who was a vet, a brother who is a vet, many of my best friends in the past were vets, and I have a son who wants to be a vet someday. I'm not really a novice to the issues.

It is easy to see things as black and white. In this case, when I met the vet I very much liked her personality and hope to work with her again in the future. Although I didn't like her "shoot at all targets" approach, I did find her fully competent. And I have posted all of this anonymously without naming names to protect her and the practice and haven't shared anything personally that would allow anyone to pinpoint her. But I'll be darn sure in the future that I'm there in person to make sure we are on the same page about treatment options.

But really, this thread isn't really supposed to be about my personal vet experience only- it should be broader than that.
 

GCash

Avid Member
Please Scott(and JoeVet), this topic is enough without the addition of the indebtment of all who chase the American Dream. Don't get me started on that tangent. I feel you Scott.

Just to contribute to the conversation(and take the opportunity to play devil's advocate, hahaha), how come no one has brought up the topic of culling within captive breeding programs? If we as keepers strive to provide the best possible conditions for our animals, which would be as close to nature as possible, there are no vets in nature, the strong survive and the sick/weak become the first targets for predators, the original euthanasia effectively ending the animal's suffering. Couldn't this apply to captive populations? The ones that are strong enough to survive do, and the ones who aren't as adept to surviving in captivity are naturally selected to be culled(not to be confused with allowed to suffer), making the population stronger.

That's why I brought up The Fountain. The doctor's ego made him think death was a disease that he could cure instead of an inextricable part of nature along with some measure of suffering to keep things in balance(don't forget, life is good).

Janet, you must have missed the euthanasia conversation a while back where it was stated that "freezing a reptile was not as humane as wrapping them in a towel and delivering a crushing blow to the head with a brick."

Disclaimer: None of this applies to a situation where the keeper doesn't educate themselves and fail to provide proper husbandry parameters. It is at that point their fault for any deficiencies and they owe it to the animal to seek corrective veterinary care in my opinion.
 

jajeanpierre

Chameleon Enthusiast
jajeanpierre; I have yet to work for a vet who exploited people, thankfully! The vets I have worked with have all been conscientious people with the welfare of the animal ultimately at heart. I have never heard a vet suggest keeping an animal alive just so the checks keep rolling in. In fact, if that was the case, they would very quickly start losing staff, myself included. The last thing I'd want to see is an animal unnecessarily suffering. I suppose there can be bad apples in any profession, though. I'm just glad I've never had to work with one. That would be an impossible situation.
It is not as black and white as you are suggesting. It is insidious and becoming more common. It starts with the vet offering a treatment that will cost a fairly small amount and resolve the immediate crisis, but they tend not to present the treatment costs as a total.

I currently have a cat with diabetes. Why didn't the vet tell me that a five-months supply of insulin would cost me over $400 when I was making the decision of trying to treat or euthanize? That cost, unknown to me, would have factored in to my decision that day. When you wrestle with a very difficult decision, it is not easy to just revisit it and decide to reverse it and euthanize. There is a lot of emotional toll to make the decision either way.

I've had a lot of animals in my life and I've spent a lot of money on vets. I don't begrudge them their living. I do object to the current treat-at-all-costs mentality vets have. Doctors are the same. I've never in my life felt I've had to be on guard to protect myself from unnecessary over-doctoring as I do now.
 

jajeanpierre

Chameleon Enthusiast
Janet, you must have missed the euthanasia conversation a while back where it was stated that "freezing a reptile was not as humane as wrapping them in a towel and delivering a crushing blow to the head with a brick."
I missed that one. It must have been a lively discussion!
 

jannb

Chameleon Enthusiast
I truly love all of my pets and they are a big part of my family. I love my vets because they help me to take care of the animals that are so precious to me. My vets are all very caring and charge a very reasonably price or not enough and I end up sending them gifts or gift cards for their services. I would never bring harm to one of my pets. I think differently that allot of you. My little preemie veiled Elly that hatched from a 6 months retained clutch only lived for 15 months but she was princess of the house for that 16 months. I couldn't live with myself if we hadn't done everything possiable to save her. Most of my pets come to me for free or a very small fee. It doem't mean they are not loved and cared for the same as if they had cost thousands of dollars. My 13 year old mixed breed dog Red was from a no kill shelter and he has been one of the best pets anyone could ever ask for. He gets along with all other pets that we bring into our home. He was diagnosed with lymphoma three years ago and had 6 month of chemotherapy every 3 to 5 days hours away from our house and goes every month since for blood work, check ups and whatever else his Oncologist things he may need. It has been very expensive but we have never complained to anyone, not once. The three years of quality life he's had has been worth every dime. I don't hesitate to jump in my car and take a sick Cham four and a half hours to the specialist when needed. When I get an illness that can't be cured or an old pet and the time has come to let them go this decision is made by my family and my vets. We try to give our pets the longest quality life possiable with out making them suffer. I find chameleons to be high maintenance and expensive pets to keep. IMHO people should not get a pet of any kind if they can't afford to give it at least basic health care. If you can't afford a $60,000.00 surgery that's understandable but when you can't afford an office visit for a sick Cham you shouldn't keep chameleons. There's a rescue out there that will take them and give them the treatment that they need. Some insurance companies even offer pet insurance for chameleons.
https://www.chameleonforums.com/health-insurance-exotics-123198/
https://www.chameleonforums.com/my-guyz-now-insured-123392/
 
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Carlton

Chameleon Enthusiast
A few little comments on this great discussion:

Its a good thing to remember that most animals live in the moment. They are not agonizing over the reality that they are going to suffer in future if they get a vet treatment or if they don't. What their life is like at the moment is what they tolerate to some degree. Of course they react to pain and sickness, look miserable and their humans see it. I think much of the conflict humans feel when having to treat a pet is an overlay of their own emotion. We talk about anthropomorphizing a lot here but most of us do it to some degree. Its part of why we get mixed up with animal suffering. I'm not saying this is good or bad, just that it happens and can cloud someone's decision about care. Some people can be more pragmatic than others.

A pet owner can either feel guilty about the suffering (especially if the problem was preventable if dealt with earlier), they are overcome with pity, or they decide the animal is not as important to them as something else like the bank account, their kids, their mortgage or whatever. I think it would be very hard to try categorizing people this way, and why should we try?

A big part of the trouble making these sorts of care decisions has to do with that inevitable "human factor"

a) what the pet's owner comprehends about the information a vet presents them with: are they aware or even able to resist manipulation by a business? are they able to see the long term affect of accepting a recommended treatment? Do they even understand how it will play out financially? In terms of the animal's quality of life? People are very very good at avoiding harsh realities of living and dying, so are so often unprepared when faced with it.

and

b) how well they understand their own feelings about their pet...can they separate their own emotional needs from the pet's physical needs? Are they even aware of their own rationale for keeping a pet in the first place? Then once they do get a pet understand the future selfish need to keep the animal alive so they don't have to face mourning? If they've never thought about what their pet means to them or thought about how their pet might suffer, when that situation at a vet comes up they are lost.

Most people think of pets as somewhat disposable, something entertaining and nice but unnecessary. How often do we hear on the forum "I just lost my first cham...but I'm happy I'll be getting a new one soon!".

I am so grateful that I have a biological background. I can usually deal with the technical information my vet gives me about a health problem (and I suspect the VET is grateful they don't have to sugar coat or it dumb down for me). I understand a bit more about animal's ability to suffer, how fear plays in to their reaction to invasive treatment, how medications work, etc. I can look at the information a little less emotionally and also know in my own mind what decision feels "right".

In the end, all I can really do is try to describe what I would do in a situation and how I would justify it to someone else. To me, it doesn't really matter what type of animal I'm talking about...a dog I've had for 15 years, a middle-aged guinea pig someone begged me to take off their hands, or a nasty feral iguana I found in a backyard two weeks ago. One situation isn't always going to determine what I do in the next. I am very grateful that I can usually find ways to deal with the vet bills most situations create. I also think most of us (including myself) revisits past decisions we've made about a pet, always wondering if we made the right one. I've had to euthanize several dogs over the years, not always because they were terminal but because they were unadoptable or wouldn't have a chance at getting a better home if I couldn't deal with them. Some exotic rescues I kept working on even though I had a sense they wouldn't survive. Some I knew almost immediately should have their suffering stopped. Every situation is different. Most of these decisions I feel OK about even though I think about them over and over again.

PS: Oh about using the term "adoption" for commercially-produced pets...I have a problem with that. Wonder if its just a euphamism that lets customers feel the whole thing is less mercenary. If you went to a business to pick out your pet regardless of the motivation, you BOUGHT it. I feel that the term adoption should be reserved for rescuing something from a non-profit group. You were taking an unwanted animal out of a poor situation. The rescue isn't making a profit, they are recouping the cost of care.
 
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JoeVet

Member
Some people have the means and desire to treat their pets with the best veterinary care available and some don't have the money or are unable to dedicate the time. Neither is especially wrong and both have the best interest of the animal and their families in mind. Its the vets job to give them the options and let them decide for themselves. Yes, a vet will always look for the best way to give your pets a longer healthier life but if you'd rather not have that expense or don't have the needed time for more intensive care then its up to you to say no. A diabetic cat is expensive and time consuming and that should have been explained. We've all had to put some of those cats down because of expense or owner objection. No blame for either the owner or the vet.
 
My response...

I think the term 'Adoption' boils down to regional semantics, I consider all my pets as specimens from there respective class and kingdom domain 'life'.

I include many of the plant's and fungi I keep as well.

I would like to think I care for all the specimens with the same if not more duty as I would my offspring, and like most I find myself building considerable attachment to a lot of my specimens.

I imagine the average keeper falls some where in the middle, where yes they might well spend a considerable amount on treating their specimen, though are compassionate enough to know when to draw the line, or emotionally cut off enough to take fiscal responsibility in governing lifespan.

I to am not over keen on the over sentimental terminology used upon death of a cherished specimen(pet), and when people take their care to the extremes we see, like treating there animals like a human being, well in my opinion that more than borders on perverse.

As does prolonging an animals life when the remaining quality is poor or none existent, so long as you have always kept the animal well, then honestly letting nature take it's course is often the kindest thing for the life form.. (Do not get me started on humans here I will fast lose friends)

As for how 'Some' Vets behave;

Finding a good vet, is finding one who consults through options and charges, discusses with you the pro's and cons of any treatment, and any tests, a good vet whilst ofc wanting to make a living, will also think about your wallet as well as their own.

It would be reckless for me to suggest anyone attempts diagnosis and treatment without consulting a vet, however often going prepared with your own research prior to an appointment will persuade even the greediest money grabbing vet, they are less likely to fleece your hard earned money.

Lets face it a lot of the time when you go to see your Doctor, you already know what is wrong and you literally just need him to sign a script for you, same applies to vets, of the vet's I know and use they appreciate my preliminary diagnosis, and often also agree with my suggested treatment.

As for the latter paragraph from the OP.


I absolutely share your fathers dumb fondness, death is an integral part of life, life in its self is a sexually transmitted terminal condition, when we over protect our selves from the reality I think it leaves us less equipped to deal with reality, I never considered death to be pleasant as far as I was aware it was meant to invoke a discord, and be generally upsetting, and at times distressing.

Just to give you a scope, we where not even allowed to dissect an animal during our studies, granted I never took Biological science to a University level, but we where to study from text books with drawing's which to be honest is a poor substitute for the real thing.
 
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