Thanks to about $30,000 in treatments at New York’s Animal Medical Centerand its new Cancer Institute, the dog recently marked a 14th birthday.
“Look, I don’t have kids to put through college, so I can put my dog throughchemo,” said co-owner Deirdre Aherne of Manhattan.
“Lulu is a member of the family.” Experts say there has been a boom in recentyears in high-end animal clinics using technologically advanced equipment andmedicines that are as good as those in many human hospitals.
It’s led to a vigorous ethical debate whether such treatments, costing as muchas tens of thousands of dollars per patient, should really go toward keeping petsalive.
“Just because we can, doesn’t always mean we should,” said Brooke Britton, oncologist at BluePearl Veterinary Partners in Manhattan.
“I’m a firm believer of stopping before a time when we’ve believed we’vereached a limit of what we believe we can reasonably do to extend a pet’squality of life and life span.” The Animal Medical Center’s Cancer Instituteopened in October with a 22-member team that treats about 120 animals eachweek.
Machines include a CT imaging scanner and linear radiation accelerator, whichwere built for humans and require animals to be anesthetized so they lieperfectly still.
Dr. Kristy Richards, a professor at the Cornell University College of VeterinaryMedicine who studies lymphoma in both animals and people, said the debateover such animal treatments should note that there is often a benefit to humansthat goes beyond the emotional.
“The research we do in veterinary clinics feeds over into our knowledge of howto treat humans,” said Richards, also an oncologist at Manhattan’s Weill CornellMedical College who treats human lymphoma patients.
“The fancy-dancy medical things we do for dogs help us treat humans.”