Pet Care Rationing

Health care rationing for family pets has struck me as an interesting contrast to the emotional and unsolvable issue of health care rationing for humans.  Pet owners routinely make budgetary decisions on when to put a pet down, or how aggressively to treat a chronic disease.  Veterinarians typically required up front payment for pet surgery, concerned that owners will simply not return to pick up their pet if the price tag suddenly seems too high.

The story in the paper today, “Lost for 61 Days at the Airport, Weakened Cat is Euthanized” provides an illustrative vignette.  A cat was lost for 61 days at Kennedy airport after he escaped from his carrying case.    He suddenly reappeared in an emaciated state when he fell through the ceiling at Terminal 8.  At this point, American Airlines took over the costs of his medical care, and thus assumed the role of the insurer.  The cat was first taken to a nearby animal hospital, and then taken by pet ambulance to an intensive care unit in Manhattan.  American Airlines popped for a plane ticket for the owner to fly from California back to New York to visit the cat in the ICU.  The following day, the cat was euthanized, “surrounded by family and friends.”

So here is American Airlines putting out an enormous amount of money for ultimately doomed end-of-life care in response to an emotional and a “do whatever it takes” scenario.  The unanswered (and more interesting question in my mind), is how much money would the owner have ponied up out of her own pocket?  In our household, as much as we love our dogs, I think $1,000 might be the absolute limit.


Posted in

Leave a Comment