A Philosopher's Blog

Saving Pets

Posted in Ethics, Medicine/Health by Michael LaBossiere on July 30, 2007

In the July 30, 2007 issue of Newsweek, Frederick R. Lynch told the story of how he spent $11,000 (US) in veterinary bills to save his cat, Fritz. Fritz was suffering from cancer and required numerous medical procedures. While Lynch’s story made it into the pages of Newsweek, his choice is not uncommon. Other people, including some close friends, have done the same for their beloved pets.

Of course, some people would see spending that much on a pet to be a waste of money. Those that give the matter some thought might say that the money could do more good if spent on something else rather than to save a pet. For example, the money could be spent to help another human being.

While that view has some merit, the same can be said in regards to most of what people spend money on. People, at least in wealthy countries like the United States, routinely spend money on luxury items. For example, if someone buys herself a new iPod, that money could have done more good if it had been donated to help a starving person. As another example, think of the extremely expensive parties that stars throw. These parties can cost hundreds of thousands of dollars (or more)-all for one night of enjoyment. As another example, think of all the other ways wealthy people spend money on needless luxuries. This money could do a great deal of good if spent on other things. If such spending were acceptable (which might not be the case), then spending money on a pet would certainly be acceptable. In fact, when compared to such luxury spending, saving a pet is quite laudable

Perhaps the best argument in favor of spending money to save a pet is based on love. In the case of spending money to save a human, such a parent spending large amounts of money to save a sick child, it is also the case that the money could be spent to do more good elsewhere. For example, the money spent on expensive cancer treatments for a child could be used to save many children who have conditions that are less expensive to treat. However, a parent who spent the money to save her child instead of helping strangers would not be regarded as doing something wrong. In fact, she would most likely be praised for her devotion to her child.

In the case of the parent, she is justified in her choice because of her relationship to her child-he is someone she loves. Now, if this applies in the case of human beings, then it should also apply to pets as well. After all, people love their pets very much.

It might be objected that a human is worth more than a pet. Perhaps that is true. But, the same could be said of individual humans. The money the mother spends on her child could have been used to save people who are better than her child. Unless he is the best human in the world, then there would be other people who could be helped who would be better. The important difference is not who is better-but who is loved by the person spending the money.


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  1. […] Saving <b>Pets</b> […]

  2. […] via PetSupplies4Less.com and Saving pets […]

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