My dog, the official dog of News Cut, has a wart on his nose.
“Why don’t you get that wart taken off?” people ask when they meet Wart Dog for the first time.
“Because he’s a dog,” I reply. “He doesn’t know he has a wart on his nose. Plus the vet wants $400 to do it.”
There’s the widening debate in a nutshell, as the medical technology that has expanded the life of humans is now available for pets. And so is the price of it.
In the Boston Globe on Sunday, Vicki Constantine Croke asked the pertinent question: How far should we go to save our pets.
This is a country in which 93 percent of we owners describe our pets as members of the family, where 70 percent of us sleep with our dogs and 78 percent with our cats, in which nearly three-quarters of married pet owners report greeting their pet before their spouse when they return home. It is a culture in which, according to one New York study, women report feeling “significantly” more intimacy with the closest pet than the closest person in their lives.
What? Seventy percent of us sleep with our dogs. What?
We Americans spend $20 billion a year on healthcare for our pets – $1.12 billion of that is spent on vet care here in New England, according to a recent study from the Cummings School. And for most pets, that care comes out of an owner’s pocket. A surprisingly small number of owners in the United States carry pet insurance – only 3 percent as of 2004. It made me wonder what we pet owners should dread the most. What’s the most expensive thing to deal with?
Constantine Croke describes one dog owner who spent $20,000 (how much is that in dog dollars?) to help the dog battle bone cancer. She, herself, has spent $10,000 on her own pet.
Money is one thing. But, like the human version, there’s the question of the quality of a pet’s life, too.
Constantine Croke, of course, never answers the question she asks.
How would you?