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Re “Boondoggie” (7/9): Just how much is a dog’s (or cat’s or other pet’s) life worth?

Anima is the Latin word for “soul.” Add an L to that and you have “animal.” Let’s face it, Adam and Eve were not thrown out of the Garden of Eden for anything that the animals had done! We humans are the world’s caretakers, not its dominators; we too are animals—human animals (we’re mammals!)—and we resonate with all of creation. We are all here to enjoy life and good health, humans and animals both.

I have two pets. They are both adopted from local shelters. They are even blood donors for the local emergency animal clinic. They also have pet hospitalization insurance (about $150 to $200 a year) that helps cover everything from shots and exams to chemotherapy. (There are two pet insurers that I know of: VPI and Petsmart.) If I, who live on a tight budget, had to spend $3,000 on one of my pets, I would probably get back at least $600 or $700 (or more) from my insurance provider. That certainly helps me and my pets.

Since I am on a tight budget, I can also make use of two very wonderful and inexpensive clinics here in D.C. that are open to those who are on limited incomes. One is at the Washington Animal Rescue League on Oglethorpe Street NW, and the other is at the D.C. Animal Shelter at Georgia Avenue NW. These folks are also registered with the United Way Fund, and I know that yearly donations to them, from the paychecks of those who can afford to do so, would be most welcome. The United Animal Nations (also registered with the United Way Fund) also has limited financial help to cover pet medical bills for selected individuals who qualify for financial assistance.

There are also other ways to keep your pets healthy:

1. Keep your animals off the streets. Cars and some people do terrible things to animals, and the price of getting their brutalized and torn bodies repaired is high.

2. Start a holistic regimen of proper nutrition, including the proper use of vitamins, herbs, and herbal preparations that can be purchased at pet stores and/or natural food (health food) stores. (Some cats are highly sensitive to things that dogs can digest with no problems, so know what you are doing before you try anything!)

3. Practice preventive maintenance. Be aware of your animal’s health on a continuous basis (including proper maintenance of the health and condition of their teeth) so that you can catch health problems before they get expensive. (Remember, your animal feels pain, but can’t usually tell you !) There are also some very wonderful and inexpensive books on the market that are comprehensive guides to raising your pets.

It would be wonderful for many of us low-wage earners who love our animals and want the best care for them if some philanthropic folks or organizations would, individually or as a group, create a special fund at their favorite veterinary hospital(s) to help cover everything from exams and shots to intensive, state-of-the-art care for those pets whose caretakers cannot afford to pay the fees involved in pet health care. No one, rich or poor, wants to have a beloved pet killed (put down) because of a broken leg or any other correctable problem! Should we be euthanized or shot when we break a bone or have cancer?

Waste of money? No! Let’s face it: No matter how poor we are, we need a car. We need to feed ourselves, cover our bodies, keep a roof over our heads. Even with these expenses, we should not have to forgo the wonderful life-enhancing experience of properly keeping, feeding, and caring for someone who gives unconditional love and loyalty, knows when we are down and cheers us up—companion animals, our pets! My cats were a tremendous source of joy and comfort to me when (one after the other) I lost my mom, my significant other, and then my job. They have also taught me what it means to be responsible for another life (or two or three) and the joys of interacting responsibly with another unique living being who is totally dependent on me for health, happiness, and welfare.

That “fat, graying [maybe from poor nutrition!] beagle with a huge wart on the top of his head [ditto!]” that Stephanie Mencimer adopted was very lucky to meet her; many times, hunting beagles are used for the duration of the hunt and then abandoned in the boondocks. I have heard horror tales from people who rescued them—malnourished dogs severely infested with fleas and ticks, some with legs broken from being hit by cars and healed at a right angle to the abandoned dog’s body. What a terrible thing to do to a living being!

God thought very highly of the animals to parade them proudly in front of our first ancestor. Don’t you think God still feels the same way about these wonderful beings? If, as the Bible states, “Man” was “created a little less than the angels”—then perhaps it is the animals themselves who are angels in their own right. Perhaps if more people got to know the real joy that comes from caring responsibly for another living species and sharing their lives with these “other citizens of the world,” then the word “mankind” would mean exactly that!

Arlington, Va.

via the Internet