When you're forced to play God
Have you ever had a choice that was so hard to make? Not the kind where you're debating between different cars, or houses, or schools. But a decision at your own hands of life or death?
When you welcome an animal into your home a bond is always formed. You get to know their quirks, and you also get to laugh at knowing they know your secret weird habits. That bond is strengthened over the time spent cuddling, playing, and observing one another.
Pedro is a cat that from the beginning had a wonderful spunk to him. He found himself in limbo and in need of a home; when he arrived at Happy Tails Farm Sanctuary early last year he was observed to have a limp. In many animals limps can be contributed to a number of things - but lasting limping can indicate cancer. Sure enough, Pedro was diagnosed with bone cancer in his front leg shortly after arriving at Happy Tails Farm Sanctuary and his new caretakers found themselves in what would be considered a very hard choice to make. Do we forgo the surgery and help Pedro to be as comfortable as possible-considering bone cancer is highly aggressive-or do we amputate the leg and hope he can thrive on three legs? Well to us it was a no brainer. That being said, many hard conversations had to take place. At Happy Tails Farm Sanctuary we have seen animals reach places most believe they could never come back from. But it is the love and dedication we foster that helps the animals continue in their resiliency.
We opted for the surgery and what a success it was! So for the past year we have had the the spunkiest tripod of a cat. He has made headlines on the Dodo and in our hearts. We have watched him grow in ways we had only dreamed possible when we were given a choice to make on how he would continue to live his life.
We have been assisting Pedro in other medical needs over the past month. He has developed urinary issues that are seeming impossible to over come. We experienced another block in his urinary tract just days ago, leading to another urinary catheter needing to be placed. All in all this poor animal has had for urinary catheter's. Pedro spent several nights at the emergency vets office and it was brought to our attention that humanely euthanizing him may be our best option. As the surgery suggested, which ultimately changes his urinary tract from male to female, is extremely risky and may not have a positive outcome. As much as one cannot put a monetary value on a life, it is something that must be considered. So we are at a crossroads - as of this moment the vet bills are over $4000.00. This does not include the surgery. And what of the agony poor Pedro has been in? Can he keep going? Should we keep him going for a surgery that may not be successful? Is it fair to the other animals to take so many resources from the pot? This is life or death - he simply cannot survive without the surgery.
At what point is it appropriate to to make that call. Every human companion of an animal will have a different stand point on it, whether you focus on quality of life or potential outcomes, or unfortunately even the financial aspects that can play a part in your decision making. But at what point did it become appropriate for us to have to make these decisions for living creatures. As if we are God and have a choice in the matter of who lives and who dies. Here at Happy Tails Farm Sanctuary we understand the need for humane euthanasia. But the topic we find ourselves struggling with is how we have reached the platform of being in control of life or death. How to know the next big come back is not just around the corner, or the suffering to come is too great to ask the animal to bare. We would love to open the platform of conversation on this topic and are truly interested in others view points. Mainly because sharing and grieving coincide. But just remember, your opinion is expected to have a counterpart, and healing starts with kindness.
If you would like to contribute to Pedro's vet care or support the sanctuary please click here! A charitable tax receipt will be emailed to you immediately.
Happy Tails Farm Sanctuary was born from a deep love and compassion for all animals. Founded in 2013 by Carla and Harold Moore, HTFS became a registered charity in 2017 after taking over the charity licence from Constance Creek Wildlife Refuge.
Thank you to Melissa Kramer for writing this blog. To read more of Melissa's work please visit her website.