Advocate Editorial Board opinion: Helping wounded animals can be difficult

By the Advocate Editorial Board
May 28, 2014 at 12:28 a.m.

People love their pets. Even when animals are not part of a family, cats and dogs especially are valued and treated with compassion.

On May 14, an unfortunate incident occurred that highlighted the love of animals and the need for more education in the community. That day, Kara Harrison found a dying Chihuahua and brought it to Victoria Animal Hospital. She was expecting the veterinarians to help the animal, which had a crushed skull and a beating heart. Instead, she said the staff refused to see the animal unless she took financial responsibility. She then took the dog to Adopt-a-Pet, where it died while being examined by a veterinary tech while the veterinarian was in another surgery.

In a previous article, a statement sent by email from Clem Cantu, the Victoria Animal Hospital manager, said, "The well-being of all pets is always our priority. Unfortunately in this situation, the individuals left our facility before we were able to evaluate the pet's condition. We would have preferred the opportunity to evaluate the pet, but as the circumstance evolved, we were unable to. We wish the pet owner well and offer our best wishes to the good Samaritans involved in assisting this precious pet."

It is unfortunate that the animal was ever in danger in the first place. Victoria has a problem with a large number of stray animals, and pets often get out as well. First and foremost, we encourage all pet owners to take precautions to ensure their animals are safely secured in a place where they will not escape and risk being run over or cause injury to someone else.

This situation brings to mind the recent shift in thinking that often puts animals on the same level as people. In reality, there is a clear difference in priorities and processes when dealing with an injured human versus an injured pet. Humans are rushed to hospitals that are all legally obligated to provide some form of life-saving service. Pets are taken to veterinarians, who have different standards and policies they follow and can limit what kind of aid they can offer without an owner present to give consent.

It is easy to look at a scenario like this after the fact and point fingers or say what should or should not have been done. This situation was difficult for all involved, so the question should not be who is to blame, but what can we take away from this to prevent future misunderstandings and suffering. The situation should be treated as a learning experience for all involved.

Harrison's actions in trying to help a wounded, suffering animal are to be commended, and we are glad to know that such compassionate people live in our community. However, we would not encourage everyone who finds an injured animal to try to do the same as she did. Injured animals are often afraid and likely to lash out, even at a person who is trying to help. We encourage residents to instead notify animal control by calling 361-573-3221, which can send trained personnel to collect the injured animal and offer the necessary treatment.

Similarly, if a person brings an injured animal to a veterinarian's office and there are circumstances or policies that limit what a veterinarian can do, it would be a good idea for veterinary staff members, especially receptionists, to have a list of options or directions to animal control available to show residents where they can take animals to get the help they need.

Animals are precious members of our families, community and world, and we are saddened whenever one is injured or suffers pain. We encourage residents to educate themselves on the proper procedure when trying to find help for hurt animals. Having that knowledge will prevent a lot of grief on all sides.

This editorial reflects the views of the Victoria Advocate's editorial board.



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