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Free euthanasia in place of medical care?

This forum is for cat lovers seeking everyday advice and suggestions on health-related issues. Remember, however, that advice on a public forum simply can't be a substitute for proper medical attention. Only your vet can say assuredly what is best for your cat.

  
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Spike

Tubby tabby- love!
 
 
Purred: Wed Jul 30, '08 10:06am PST 
Recently there was a question on the Answers Board from someone who didn't have enough money to pay for treatment for his/her sick cat. He/she contacted several vets, who all refused to treat the cat on a pro bono basis, or on the installment plan. On the other hand, they were willing to euthanize the cat for free. Aside from the fact that this seems to be a violation of the Hippocratic oath--"First do no harm"--it makes no economic sense for a doctor to offer a free medical procedure that will kill the cat, but not one that will save its life. I live outside of the States, in a country where euthanasia exists but is not as widely practiced as in the U.S. Is this idea that pets whose health care is beyond the economic means of their owners (even for a brief period) should be euthanized a widespread one, or did this owner just meet up with some pretty creepy vets? I was particularly shocked when I read this because Americans, as represented by Catsters, seem to be very concerned about saving animal lives by adopting from shelters, etc.
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Atrus

Fluff butt
 
 
Purred: Wed Jul 30, '08 10:36am PST 
I have never encountered this practice myself, but I have also only ever taken a pet to a vet a handful of times and never for anything very severe, so I cannot say if this is a normal accepted practice or highly unusual.

However, I don't have any problem with it and I am actually probably in favor of it. If someone is unable to pay for a pet's medical care, it is unreasonable to assume the vet can provide what is needed for free. However, if the pet's condition is such that will lead to death without care, and the owner cannot provide it, there seem to be few options. Either the owner will take the pet home untreated and it will eventually, perhaps painfully, die as a result of nontreatment. Or, the animal can be euthanized. Perhaps the vet in this situation felt that putting the animal out of its misery was better than a potentially slow death and that this was a more humane thing to do, especially if the owner also would not be able to pay for the animal to be put down. From the vet's standpoint, taking the financial hit of euthanizing an animal "for free" is worth it to keep the animal from suffering.
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Rasha

On the Prowl....
 
 
Purred: Wed Jul 30, '08 10:41am PST 
That's pretty horrific. I have never heard of something like that happening before.... and I really hope no vet ever says that to me! It seems like money is taking over the "helping" mindset of some people now a days.... and I'm sure it can happen anywhere. confused Most people out there want to help and rescue animals and will do it for free. BUT just like anywhere there are some rotten apples that won't do anything without getting a reward, in this case money.

Poor kitty, I hope he gets cared for properly by someone who is willing to help!
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Rasha

On the Prowl....
 
 
Purred: Wed Jul 30, '08 10:44am PST 
Atrus has some good points. I just don't see how a "vet", someone who devotes their lives to helping save animals lives would just say that to someone. The least thing I would do is try to get a rescue to help or SOMETHING. There IS help out there you just have to search for it. The thing that makes me mad is that they wouldn't accept a payment plan, common! Save the cat's life and you will still get paid! shrug
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Pepper

Please Save a- Life, Adopt a- Cat!
 
 
Purred: Wed Jul 30, '08 10:45am PST 
I live in the upper mid-west in the U.S... Vets here generally refuse euthanasia unless it is seen as a quality of life issue or something that can not be fixed medically. I guess I could see a vet preforming a euthanasia is the treatment is too expensive and the quality of life is so low without the surgery/treatment, or the quality of life is declining quickly.

A lot of vets here have payment plans or "second chance" funds. The shelter I work at also has a no-interest loan program as well.

I have also heard of vets asking people to surrender pets when they can no longer afford to care for their medical needs. Then the vet can provide care at cost or through donation funds.

At the shelter I work at people will surrender animals for euthanasia as well, but generally they are old or in bad condition medically or have severe behavioral problems.

But like you, I have never heard of a vet offering to euthanize an animal that has a good prognosis with some care.
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Delyte, Dark- Angel, at- Bridge

Me and my- person, together- against all
 
 
Purred: Wed Jul 30, '08 10:54am PST 
This is Delyte. Yes, I have heard of it, but more and more vets are trying to work with people to set up payment plans, which seems both more profitable to them and more humane.

We have also encountered the doctors who are unwilling to go forward with any kind of complicated medical treatment and want to euthanize the cat as soon as the cat is diagnosed. I have heard of vets that will offer euthanasia as the only treatment for diabetes, cancer and FIP, whereas as we well know from our friends on the list, diabetes can be controlled for years, cancer can be operated on successfully a lot of the time, and the dry form of FIP can take years to kill. This is even if the owner offers to pay whatever is necessary. They just say the animal will suffer, why don't you have it put to sleep and we just happen to have this cute kitten that you can take home. I have heard that a LOT from vets.

Even our vet wanted to put me to sleep when I had a big tumor, and was reluctant to try to remove it. It was certainly a big operation, and it was touch and go for a while for me, but it was not cancer and I have lived over three years [knock wood!] afterwards.

A lot of older vets don't keep up with research and don't have access to equipment. Almost all of my person's childhood cats were immediately euthanized when diagnosed, from 1960 through the 70s. There was a vet that my person took her cat to in 1972 who wanted to euthanize her cat because it peed on the floor! The poor cat had to suffer until 1973 when she found a vet who would treat her for bladder infection. But then in 1983 when the cat got breast cancer, they were willing to work with her to operate on it and treat it.

We hope that this trend is disappearing. Unfortunately, I don't think that veterinarians take any form of the Hippocratic Oath? Anyone here know for sure?
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Spike

Tubby tabby- love!
 
 
Purred: Wed Jul 30, '08 11:03am PST 
Actually, aside from the moral issue of taking a cat's life when it could be saved (that was the scenario I was envisioning, as the question seemed to imply a sudden, seemingly minor problem), the thing I found most puzzling was that a vet would euthanize for no payment, but not give medical treatment for no or delayed payement (this is again working under the assumption that the medical problem was not necessarily a potentially fatal one). I imagine that euthanization is a fairly inexpensive procedure, but it still is not free. If the reason is an economic one, this makes little sense. Also, I cannot imagine why a vet would not advise the patient regarding cheaper payment options elsewhere, or at the very least offer to help rehome the cat (even if it meant introducing the owner to a no-kill shelter) than euthanize the cat.
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Atrus

Fluff butt
 
 
Purred: Wed Jul 30, '08 11:09am PST 
Rasha, unfortunately it is a business and is supported by people who are able to pay for vet care. There are many options people can search for to try to get money, credit, payment plans, donations, funds, but sometimes it gets to a point where there are owners who have no money, have no credit cards, do not qualify for any assistance services, and do not have friends/family they can borrow from. And that is very sad, but it does not and cannot entitle them to free care. I am sure there are many bad vets out there, but most vets do not want to see animals suffer; that is why they are vets. Unfortunately, vets cannot provide hundreds or thousands of dollars of free care, because the rest of their practice will suffer as a result and it would impair their ability to provide care for other pets. Yes, people should want to help others and all that, but _vets do not provide services for free_, nor can they afford to. Those who offer payment plans are being very generous, but are also running the risk of never being paid for services performed weeks/months ago. And some vets do not offer payment plans because they cannot take that risk; if you cannot manage a credit card, you are a definite "risk" that some vets do not want to take. It really has nothing to do with not wanting to "help" people. Medicine and equipment and resources vets use cost a lot of money, and if 99 out of 100 people who walk into their office can pay, the 1 who cannot be offered free services that may impair the vet's ability to help the others. Unfortunately people slip through the cracks. I just hate to see vets get such hate aimed towards them when they cannot afford to care for everyone's pets free of charge. That doesn't mean they wouldn't want to if they could.
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Binks

Little boy in a- cat suit
 
 
Purred: Wed Jul 30, '08 11:10am PST 
Putting aside all compassion and love for animals for a moment (not an easy thing to do), even from a business or marketing stand, it seems to be counter intuitive to offer an "end" to a potential long-term business relationship rather than putting a little Public Relations practice to good use by offering some sort of charitable contribution toward the treatment of the pet (whether it's offering a payment plan, reduced fees or limited free services), thereby opening the door for more business - perhaps some of it referred - in the future.

I personally have never encountered that situation. The vets I've seen have always been willing to work out a payment plan when I was unable to pay for the entire services. Maybe some vets are so successful and busy that losing one client doesn't mean much to them. Or they don't see the benefit of a long-term relationship and possible referrals. These aren't the vets I choose.

Now, adding in the responsibility of the vet to protect life and the human responsibility to be charitable and compassionate, I'm guessing if a vet doesn't exhibit any of these qualities, he/she is not the vet for me.
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Spike

Tubby tabby- love!
 
 
Purred: Wed Jul 30, '08 11:19am PST 
However, as I said in my previous post, the least a vet can do is refer a patient to the Humane Society or some other group that may be able to locate a more cooperative vet. That would take just a bit of time, and hardly make a dent in the vet's income. Essentially saying "I won't give you any advice about how to get your cat medical care elsewhere, but I'll be happy to kill it for free" just seems a bit surreal to me.
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