Should Poor People Have Pets?

 |  Dec 31st 2008  |   0 Contributions


My recent post on the fees that vets charge has generated some interesting comments. One theme that has been mentioned goes like this: Owning a pet is a responsibility. If one cannot afford the expenses of having a pet, one should not have a pet.

I confess that part of me wants to agree with that line of thought. I strongly feel that every pet deserves the very best possible care, including love, food, shelter, and medical treatment. And I certainly believe that vets have a right to charge fees for our services.

But I have to wonder about people who simply don't have the resources to care for a pet in the best possible manner. Shouldn't they be able to experience the joy, love and companionship that a pet provides?

A couple of weeks ago I spent a day volunteering with an organization in San Francisco that provides free veterinary services to homeless people. I treated many pets that day, and they all had several things in common. None of them was living under the best possible conditions. Nonetheless, every one of them was loved and adored by the person caring for them. The love was clearly reciprocated. Every client I served was doing his or her very best to do right by his or her pet--even though most were falling short of the goal by a long shot.

For many of my clients that day it was clear that their pet was their only truly reliable friend.

The pets I treated that day may in theory have been better off if different people were caring for them. But I believe that, as long as they do their best to care for their animals, people have a right to own pets regardless of their life circumstances.

Photo: Shayan Sanyal. License: CC

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