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US Pet Owners Paying For High-Tech Veterinary Care

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A German Shepherd receives chemotherapy from Dr. Allyson Berent at the Animal Medical Center of New York, Tuesday, June 22, 2010. (AP Photo/Richard Drew)

By Verena Dobnik for The Alternative Press

NEW YORK — Brute, a German shepherd, lay anesthetized on an operating table, his hairy chest under a plastic cover and his powerful paws taped immobile.

“Here comes the wire up the artery!” said Dr. Chick Weisse, who infused the dog’s cancerous liver with chemotherapy via a catheter at the century-old Animal Medical Center in Manhattan in an effort to “buy him some time.”

Brute was home in days, the cancer at bay a while longer — perhaps eight months. The cost: $2,000.

Around the nation, veterinarians are practicing ever more advanced medicine on the nation’s 77 million dogs, 90 million cats and a myriad other animals — treatments that vie with the best of human medicine. The driving force is “the changing role of the pet in our society,” said Dr. Patty Khuly, a veterinarian at Miami’s Sunset Animal Clinic.

The bottom line for many people, she said, is that investing in a pet’s life “improves the quality of a human life immeasurably more than, say, buying a luxury car.”

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