A month ago I reported that Zak, my three-year-old rag doll, has developed three tiny tumor-like growths on his back, head and rear leg. The Laurel Pet Hospital vet said he’d cut the mini-tumors off and do a biopsy. A 50% chance of cancer, he said, which would mean Zak would have a year or less. Or it might be something else. The assessment cost was $250. This morning I took Zak down for the removal + biopsy, and was told the fee will be $755. I’m sure that the treatment for whatever’s ailing Zak will cost an arm and a leg also. Whatever the situation, pet hospitals have you by the balls.

From “Death and Money“, posted on 6.26.11: “Zak #1, a Siamese born in ’86, died from pancreatic cancer at age 14 or 15. He stopped eating toward the end, prompting me to put Gerber’s baby food on his nose so he would at least lick it off. He was obviously finished. Any country vet would have taken one look and said, “Take him home and make him comfortable, and if you want to put him to sleep towards the end, we’ll do that for you. I’m sorry, but he hasn’t long to live.”

When I took Zak to TLC Animal Hospital in West Hollywood they managed to extract $600 or $700 for observation and stabilization fees before putting him to sleep. Caring shysters like TLC know full well that pet owners want to do something (i.e., spend something) when their pet is dying, and so they always step right up and show love and concern for your pet and offer consolation to the owner[s], and you’d better believe that they get that money. They’re trustworthy professionals, but they know how to vacuum your wallet.

I’m mentioning this because a couple I’m friendly with just lost their dog. He was diagnosed with cancer about two and a half months ago. They were told by a vet that the cancer couldn’t be cured but that the tumor could be removed and that this would probably buy their dog some time, perhaps as much as a year. So they dropped $10 grand on the operation and subsequent medical attention, and the poor dog stopped breathing a few hours ago, just like that.

Are you going to tell me that the vet didn’t suspect that the removal of the tumor wouldn’t really help that much? Are you going to tell me that the vet didn’t exploit the emotions of the couple?

If you were a vet and you knew the dog/cat was a goner, would you persuade the owner to pay for an expensive operation that would maybe extend the pet’s life for a couple of months but tell them it might keep the pet alive for a year, just to keep them sweet and in a spending frame of mind? If you were a pet owner and you had $10 grand to spend on a pet but you knew it would only extend the pet’s life for a couple of months, would you drop the money or just take the pet home and make him/her feel loved until the time came to put him/her to sleep?