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Thursday, November 10, 2011

Modern Pet Ownership

For the last few days I've been treating a very sweet mastiff for sudden kidney failure.  She didn't respond to any treatment and her kidney had completely shut down, so today we euthanized her.  But her medical condition isn't the focus of my blog today.

Yesterday I learned that the ownership was a little bit complicated.  The owner and his ex-wife had apparently included their dogs in the divorce settlement.  They didn't have children and really loved their dogs, so they officially and legally had joint custody of the dogs.  All of this came to light when each owner came to check on their dog individually and told me about the situation.  They were both involved in her decisions and were talking to each other, but lived separately.

Today when we euthanized her the man was there with his current girlfriend.  When it was time to give the injection the girlfriend left while the ex-wife came in to be present when we did it.  Once it was over she left and the girlfriend came back in.  All-in-all it was one of the stranger situations I've been a part of, and seemed very much like situations I've heard of when ex-spouses have to come together over the illness of their child.

I guess this is a reality of modern pet ownership and something we may see more of.  Pets are increasingly a part of our extended families and people feel very strongly about them.  When people separate there can be as much disagreement over the pets as there is over the car or house.  This can also make it challenging to vets as we may have to deal with situations like this that we are not trained for and have to deal with more complicated decisions over their pets' well-beings.  

I'm certainly not looking forward to dealing with a joint-custody situation where the co-owners disagree on what to do.