Ethics in Practice
I like to think that I’m good with ethical matters. Which, fortunately, are primarily considered only theoretically. My understanding of ethics grew when they were described as “right vs. right” instead of “right vs. wrong.” Most of us can make a good decision when faced with right vs. wrong, especially when it is a theoretical choice.
Here are my theoretical ethics: habitat is greater than individual animals; people are more important than domestic animals; wild animals are priority over domestic animals. (I acknowledge this is not a linear model. Perhaps I’ll draw a diagram someday.) When a friend took her pet in for expensive emergency veterinary care, I declared to myself that I wouldn’t make the same choice. If I was going to spend that money, I would use it to improve the life of humans. These humans could live a potentially better life and possibly make choices that improve habitat, other humans, or even pets. This disregards the fact that I’ve never donated the amount of money my friend spent for any humans or habitat. Nor have I had to make quick decision to try save or end a pet’s life.
George accepted Dozer aka Doughy the dog on a trial basis after his dog Meg died from cancer. That was just over two weeks ago. This past Saturday, Dozer was hit on the road near our house. George thought that Dozer was dead until he went to bury him and found Dozer breathing. Blood was running from his mouth. His eyes were glazed over. His breathing was shallow. We quickly came to the choice: euthanize Dozer or in George’s words “take him to the vet, but don’t spend over $500.” While realizing George’s choice wasn’t a choice, I took Dozer to the vet, 27 miles away. The vet confirmed what we already knew: Dozer was in bad shape. He was in shock, had a very low blood pressure, and had blood (and perhaps other bodily fluids) in his abdominal cavity. Dozer’s likelyhood of survival even with treatment was unknown. The vet provided a quote for an attempt to stabilize him. The vet told me it was certainly acceptable and understandable for me to euthanize him.
I took a few minutes to think. I called Vicky because she loves dogs and George. She would be able to help me think about the problem: finances; likely outcomes; and George. With her support and thoughtful questions, I was able to make the decision to attempt to save Dozer.
Dozer is a lucky dog. He didn’t have any broken bones. His blood pressure stabilized with treatment. He could take in oxygen despite his bruised lungs with oxygen support. His internal bleeding stopped. His lacerated tongue could be stitched. He didn’t have brain damage. He was able to come home on Monday. He had gotten a bath! He gets to live in the house (at least while he’s mending). His only symptom of damage is occasional wheezing or coughing, which should go away as his lungs heal. He has good pain killers and antibiotics. His trial period is over. Lucky dog.
This hasn’t stopped me from thinking about the use of money to save a pet’s life. Or the other ways it could be used.
Dozer is a lucky dog. I am very fortunate to have an easy life and to ponder ethical questions in my free time.