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Pets, Vets, and, Debts


Region: Atlantic

Year of Production: 2016

Duration: 44:12

More than half of Canadian households own a pet. That translates as almost six million dogs and eight million cats. In the US, dog and cat ownership has quadrupled since the mid-sixties – more homes have cats and dogs than have children.

The health and welfare of all these animals is a billion-dollar industry. No wonder. There is almost no limit to the treatment available to our furry friends - MRIs, heart stents and even stem cell transplants are now standard.

"Pets, Vets, and, Debts" takes the viewer inside the OR to witness cutting edge technology being used to treat pets – including two world’s firsts. In Ottawa, Dr. Julius Liptak uses a prosthesis to replace the jawbone of a twelve-year-old cat. In New York, Drs. Allyson Berent and Chick Weisse use stem cells from a donor cat to stabilize a cat’s kidney failure.

The documentary also shadows Dr. Michael Ethier as he deals with a variety of very sick animals in the Critical Care Unit of the Toronto Veterinary Emergency Hospital. With a staff of almost one hundred and state of the art medical equipment on site, this is a real hospital offering the same treatment you’d expect at a human hospital. Not surprisingly, medical bills can quickly go from the hundreds into the thousands.

There are some people who would argue, why spend so much money on pets – they are after all, animals – not people. Most pet owners would disagree. Many refer to themselves as “pet parents” and their pets as “fur babies”. How did cats and dogs – once confined to living outside – catapult to such high status?

Science journalist David Grimm suggests that the rise in status of our pets may be due in part to the anti-social fallout from social media.

We don’t call people on the phone as much anymore; we don’t hang out with people as much anymore and when we do hangout with people we all look at our phones the whole time. So, our society, I think, has become more lonelier. And increasingly these cats and dogs, they’re one of the few beings we have regular contacts with. We don’t have these relationships anymore with people because our relationships with people have become so virtual.

One thing is certain. People love their pets. In fact, according to a recent poll, if trapped on a desert island, more than fifty percent of Americans would rather live out their day with their dog or their cat than with a human companion.  That says it all.

PRODUCTION COMPANY: Dream Street Pictures


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