20 May 2008

And You Thought The Bridge To Nowhere Was Bad

originally blogged Tues. 13 May

An acquaintance recently commented that perhaps it was time for Hillary to bow out of the Democratic Primary race. This acquaintance saw her continued campaign as a great silliness marked by a tragic waste of resources. Why, she asked, should Hillary continue to spend tens of thousands of dollars on a campaign that is doomed to fail? Though I did not vote for Hillary, I do support her right to continue campaigning. I do, however, agree that the amount of money that has been spent, and will continue to be spent, on this political race, by both parties, is tragic. The good that could have been done, here in the US and around the world, with that same money is amazing. I recently finished a book, Pearls, Politics, and Power, in which the author posed the idea that much good can be done in politics by politicians, and that those who volunteer in their communities should not discount politics as an avenue of do-gooding. The points made by the author helped me see just how much good a politician can do, but I still can't help but feel that the good that could have been done with this political money far outways the good that any of the candidates might achieve in office.

After putting to rest my thoughts about the wasteful practices of the current political campaign, I found myself contemplating in what other ways large amounts of resources are wasted on efforts that are, in and of themselves, doing good. Which reminded me of what I recently saw on Animal Planet.

While puttering around the house, I happened to enter the living room just as a skin and bones dog was brought into a vet's office. I don't know what show I caught, but it doesn't much matter. The poor dog had been abandoned to starve in a backyard. The house was in a cold climate, during the winter. The dog was left with no food, no water, and no shelter. The dog was, quite literally, skin and bones. The vet examining the dog stated that it was dying. And yet, they immediately set about trying to save the dog. I realize that it is a heart breaking story, and there are many animal lovers in the world who think it would be just as cruel to kill the dog as it was to leave it without food, water, and shelter in the first place. Yet, I cannot help but think that perhaps saving that dog was a tragic waste of resources. I know, I know, I have just uttered fighting words. With that one thought I will probably have my "animal lover" card revoked and have my pet owners license revoked for eternity. But, let me at least defend myself.

First of all, let me remind you that I am speaking of a dog that a vet has already stated is dying. Not almost dying. Not would have died if it hadn't been found and brought to the vet. Dying. The dog is dying. It's body already in the process of shutting down. The poor animal had no chance to survive. Not to mention the fact that the dog doesn't even have a loving owner to help care for it as it recovers. Despite all this, the vet and her staff immediately began efforts to warm the dog, and provide IV medicine and liquids. Even if the dog survived the night and subsequent days, it will be a long uphill climb to full recovery. A climb that will most likely be blocked numerous times by a multitude of health issues brought on by near death. With absolutely no guarantee of a finally healthy, physically or mentally, dog. For all these kindhearted people know, this dog is extremely aggressive, or has cancer, or heartworms, or failing hips. They could very well be attempting to save a dog that will only continue to require the allocation of resources to maintain whatever semblance of health is finally achieved.

And that's what it comes down to, no? Resources. Who is paying for the care of this nearly dead dog? More than likely, as is often the case on Animal Planet, a rescue organization or humane society has come forward to pay for the care. Perhaps the vet has even offered to allay some of the costs. Either way, a great deal of money will be spent on an effort that has little chance to succeed. We must also consider the time and space given over to this dog. Surely many hours of the vet's time and of tech's and assistant's time were taken away from other needs and devoted to helping this dog. If the dog somehow survived, there is then the time spent by a foster care taker as it continues to regain health. Similarly, the dog takes up space. A kennel or more at the vets office, and then a kennel or even entire room at the foster home. In each case, this dying dog will consume an extreme amount of resources.

Thus I ask, is saving this dog a wasteful use of resources? Should the dog survive, then most people would probably say it was not a waste. How could it be a waste if the ultimate goal, of returning a dying dog to health, is achieved? I will ask the question that I'm sure most would not ask. Is this dog so important, so worthy, that it deserves to have so many resources? Are there not other dogs in the world that would just as easily please a family looking for a pet? If we know nothing else about the plight of dogs in our world, it is that there are always homeless dogs looking for a loving family. And I would offer the idea that there is no one perfect dog for any family.

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