Editorial – Pet Peeve

Along with the many pleasures that pet ownership brings, life with Fido or Fluffy can be messy. Besides all the training, grooming, hairballs, and muddy paws, there’s another dilemma?what to do when a beloved pet is at death’s door and needs to be euthanized.

It’s a situation that Pet Heaven Funeral Services has been helping distraught pet owners deal with?and that has resulted in charges against the company by Ontario’s College of Veterinarians.

Shelley and Eric Blechman, who own Pet Heaven, ?collect pet remains from homes, accident scenes and veterinary clinics in the GTA, and facilitate burials or cremations.?

No problem there. But they ran afoul of provisions in the Veterinarians Act by offering another service: recommending vets who make house calls when sick or injured animals need to be put down.

With only six mobile veterinarians in Toronto, and few office-based vets who make house calls, the Blechmans say they are often contacted by distraught pet owners looking for a vet to come to their homes and euthanize dying animals in the comfort of familiar surroundings.

But as an investigator with the College told reporters, That’s equivalent to the ?corporate practice? of veterinary medicine, something the Blechmans aren’t licensed to do.

In spirit at least, both parties are right.

The provisions in the Veterinarians Act prevent pet owners from being manipulated by unscrupulous third parties. In the past, some breeders and pet stores insisted the sale or warranty of a pet be tied to using a specific vet’s services?basically, a kickback scheme. By preventing vets from being involved in these types of steering arrangements, the Act is protecting consumers and animals.

Yet Pet Heaven fills a very practical?and compassionate?need. Fluffy or Fido is in pain, badly injured or at the end of a long illness and in their final days or hours. Loading them into a cat carrier (or the back seat of the car) and under the bright lights of a vet’s office will cause even more agony. Why not contact a service that can quickly supply a list of licensed vets who will come to your home and euthanize your pet’saving you and your animal even more physical and emotional stress?

While both parties seem well intentioned, It’s a compromise That’s needed, not a court case, to mend the very real flaws in their approaches. If Ontario’s College of Veterinarians prevails, pet owners may be left hunting through the Yellow Pages, wasting hours arranging a house call while an animal lingers in pain.

And if the Blechmans win, it isn’t hard to see how others could use the ruling to prey on pet owners, pushing the services of less-than-reputable vets when people may be distraught and not thinking clearly.

Either way, spending time facing off in court isn’t going to help those whose interests are really at stake?the animals.

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