The Corner

Culture

Should EMTs Save a Human or a Dog First?

(Stringer/Reuters)

Bioethicists never cease to entertain — if some of the dangerous views pushed by the mainstream movement can be considered “entertaining.”

But this entry into the discourse sort of takes the cake. Over at bioethics.net, a DePaul University Ph.D. named Craig Klugman worries that EMT responders won’t give pets mouth-to-mouth resuscitation out of fear that saving Fido could be considered practicing veterinary medicine without a license. (!!!)

Really? Well, if EMTs need liability protection when rescuing our pets, then by all means, grant them the protection.

Klugman then ponders a situation in which both a human and animal need CPR. Which, he asks, should the EMT help first?

Before you read his answer below about flipping a coin and decision-making by “aesthetics,” realize that Klugman understands his readership. Many bioethicists would brand an automatic response, “the human,” to be “speciesism,” — e.g., discrimination against animals — which those who hold such misanthropic views deem akin to racism. (Ditto, animal-rights activists.)

Now, to Klugman. From, “Snout to Mouth: The Age of PET CPR Requires Pet POLSTS” (my emphasis):

Having EMS able to give pet CPR does raise some intriguing bioethical issues. From a resource perspective, if an EMT arrives on scene where a human needs CPR and a dog needs CPR, which one should the EMT assist first (assuming that only one EMT is available)? Most people would probably respond, “the human, of course” because although we care deeply for our pets, our society still values human life over that of animals (rightly or wrongly).

If we viewed both lives as equal, then perhaps the EMT should flip a coin.

However, the ethics of aesthetics are probably at play in developing this prioritization since a headline that says “EMT saves human; dog dies” is less likely to be litigious than “EMT saves dog while not treating human.”

Yikes. Talk about not taking a stand!

And what if Fido doesn’t have a quality of life worth living? Advance directives!

Where first responders offer pet-CPR, it may be important to have POLST documents for Fluffy and Spot (though legally these may not be enforceable). You may want to add a DNR dogtag (yes these are meant for people, but are available and are not too large) as part of your dog’s tags.

That’s bioethics, folks! Good grief.

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