This week, we would like to draw your attention to the difficult decisions pet owners must sometimes make. Whether it is a severe medical condition, a behavioral issue, or some other problem that cannot be easily remedied, a pet owner may be faced with some tough choices. For myself, it was the decision to declaw my daughter's cat, who has been a beloved member of the family for three years, but had destroyed so much furniture and wood paneling that it was a decision I felt I must make. We had tried everything from keeping her nails short to using "Soft Paws," rubber nail covers that prevent the cat from doing damage with her claws. Nothing worked, and it came down to a choice of giving up the cat, or removing her claws. Despite some feelings of guilt, seeing my daughter cuddling with my cat lets me know it was worth what was a very difficult decision for me.
In dealing with tough decisions in the care of our pets, here are some questions to ask yourself: Do you have the financial and emotional resources you would need to handle long-term medical care if it is required? Will you have the neccessary stamina required to care for an animal with a serious or chronic behavioral or health condition? Is the relationship with your pet changing or decreasing in quality due to these problems? What are your values and beliefs regarding the decision you must make? What is your personal "bottom line" - what are you unable to tolerate or live with? Finally, ask yourself, when you look back on this several months from now, what would be the most important thing about what you did or did not do? If you feel you have done the best you can, and you are not up to the task of caring for a seriously, chronically ill animal, or one whose behavior is out of control, you are not at fault. Each of us has to make this kind of decision based on our own personal circumstances.