Would I pay $3,000 to save that dog’s life? Absolutely. Especially if he belonged to me. I grew up in Philadelphia, and I never had a pet. At an early age, if you don’t have a pet and aren’t exposed to animals in a friendly setting (no, that chained pit bull down the street who viciously barks and froths uncontrollably when you pass by doesn’t count), you advance toward adulthood with a compassion deficiency. When I met my future wife, she owned a pet rabbit, or “Bun-Bun” for short. My wife loved this rabbit to a degree I’d never experienced, and I seriously thought she had a screw loose, and was rethinking my romantic position. My comment at the time was, “What can he do, bark? Roll over? Can he give me his paw? No? Then put the thing in a pot—I’m hungry.” This led to a fusillade of criticism and suggestions of where I could stick my future musings.
In the next few months, however, I realized that not only was the rabbit free to roam as he pleased, but he was toilet-trained and in almost every respect more resourceful than myself. I made mental notes of how he reacted in every situation, and it was different every time. He definitely owned a personality. (He showed me that he was in charge and did what he damn well pleased when I was around—he did not enjoy my stay much and would have loved for me to move out. He bit me once, but I forgave him.) This endeared the little animal to me, and I began to appreciate his obvious intelligence. Unfortunately, the day of our wedding, he fell ill, and despite our desperate, frantic rush to the vet, he died. My wife was beyond comfort and was, as your article points out, inconsolable. She cried as if her heart would break, and even the doctor was upset. We were still married that day, however.
More recently, I saved a feral kitten from the chopping block, in what seemed to be a sort of rebirth for me as well as the cat. Now the cat is a spoiled little brat and is destined to be lazy, fat, and alive for years. And I don’t mind that. I feed him only the best.
What’s my point? An animal can be nothing to you at one point in your life and then evolve to be the most important “person” in your life, as a companion after the death of a loved one, or just another member of the family. It’s not immoral; the sanctity of life—all life—is held to be one of the most important aspects of all organized religions, from Roman Catholicism to Zen Buddism. Human life isn’t all we should be concerned about—it should be all life. There are starving people in the world, and we should not forget that, but they are just as important as a cat, dog, or rabbit—no more and no less. If it’s your money, and you choose to spend it on your pet, do so. You’re being kind to a living thing, and no one should ever feel guilty about that.
Fort Washington, Md.
via the Internet