From Barbara Ehrenreich:
This year, Americans will spend about $9.8 billion on health care for their pets, up from $7.2 billion five years ago... A professor who consults to pet health facilities on communication issues justified these huge investments in pet health to me by pointing out that pets are, after all, “part of the family.”The full piece has some startling and appalling stories about kids dying for lack of medical (or veterinary!) care. More positively, trips to the doctor might go more smoothly if the kids could play with Flufffy and Fido while they're there.
Well, there’s another category that might reasonably be considered “part of the family.” True, they are not the ideal companions for the busy young professional: It can take two to three years to housebreak them; their standards of personal hygiene are lamentably low, at least compared to cats; and large numbers of them cannot learn to “sit” without the aid of Ritalin.