11 May 2023

Ethicists’ commentary on inappropriate home treatment

Cat relaxing on couch. Photo: Victoria Kondysenko // Colourbox.com
📷 Victoria Kondysenko // Colourbox.com

Ethical question of the month, October 2022

You are an ambulatory veterinarian who offers occasional service to a remote community. There is a rescue agency in the com- munity that uses the pro bono or deeply discounted veterinary services of another practice. A volunteer of the rescue requests the euthanasia of her own very elderly cat in end-stage renal failure. You know the volunteer to be extremely sensitive about euthanasia decisions. When you examine the cat, it is moribund and heavily infested with maggots. The owner has been keeping the cat alive with daily subcutaneous fluids, which in your mind, has just delayed an overdue natural death. The client is terribly upset about the loss of the cat, so you do not raise the issue at the time. You are uncomfortable raising your concerns about the inappropriate home treatment of the cat with the generous veterinarian who assists with rescue and rescue management. What do you do?

Clare Palmer, Peter Sandøe, & Dan Weary comment on this dilemma and you can read it here: Ethicists’ commentary on inappropriate home treatment (pdf)