Title: Pet Hates: The Shocking Truth about Pets and Vets
Author: Josh Artmeier
Publisher: Argyll Publishing
As I started to read this non-fiction, black comedy about the horrors of being a veterinarian, I found it hard to distinguish whether the author dislikes people or animals more, but decided that it’s probably people.
Pet Hates: The Shocking Truth about Pets and Vets by Josh Artmeier (illustrated by award-winning cartoonist Frank Boyle) is an interesting, eye-opening, and often humorous read that left me feeling rather insecure about my own intelligence and motives for having a pet. I wanted to ask forgiveness from the author on behalf of those of us poor humans who choose to have pets in our lives without realizing what our veterinarians have to go through in order to treat them.
I’m sure the book is true of the author’s experience (it may have been embellished a bit to add to the drama & humor of it as he did in fact write under a pseudonym to protect the extremely guilty) in the UK, but I’m really hoping that’s not the case for all vets and that hopefully things are a bit different in Canada at least. I agree that it must be a very stressful job and I know I couldn’t do it, although I thought I wanted to when I was a kid.
Pet Hates chronicles everything from Abscesses and Anal Glands to Ears and Euthanasia to Vaccinations and X-rays in alphabetical, short, sad, sardonic, and cynical chapters. It is the antithesis of James Herriot’s tales of All Creatures Great and Small and shockingly describes why so many vets end up as either alcoholics or suicides.
This book reinforces the fact that human beings are the cruelest animals on the planet and our dysfunctional society makes many unhappy people who end up living through their pets. I know this because I have been one of them at times during my life, but my pets have also given me a reason to live during moments when I felt that I didn’t want to go on and I’m grateful to them and to God for allowing me to have them. My dogs in particular have enriched my life in ways I find hard to express. I believe that God put dogs on Earth to teach us about unconditional love and that joy that can be found in simple things.
When I asked the author about what he intended to express with Pet Hates, he replied:
“The book boils down to the question: what is intelligent compassion? Animals are at our mercy not only as individuals but as breeds. Our dysfunctional society makes many unhappy people who live through their pets. Is it not better to address the dysfunction at its root?
…Our capitalistic/materialist society does not make for happiness. Pets are hapless victims of the stress, anxiety and irrationality that results.”
I can’t argue with that, although I do believe that there are many responsible, well-adjusted pet owners who treat their animals as well as they treat their children. If you are sensitive about pet care, read this book at your own risk.
Over all though, I am compelled to thank Josh Artmeier for giving a voice to the voiceless.