In a world with so much poverty, with so much need even in rich countries, the idea of spending thousands on a hip replacement for a 13-year-old Jack Russell raises questions about the justifiable use of resources.
Be that as it may, many people’s lives are enriched, even sustained, by pets — or companion animals, as today’s politically correct lexicon decrees.
Pandemic isolation underlined this: There are few better foils to loneliness than an engaging animal.
Growing affluence has changed attitudes. We confer a status on pets our grandparents would not understand. This is as harmless as it is indulgent, but it has spawned a multi-billion international business.
That takes many forms, everything from pet insurance to grooming parlours, all of which have been normalised in a short time. And people pay big sums, especially for fashionable breeds.
It is not uncommon for a pup to cost more than 20 times what a farmer might get for a calf. That statistic speaks volumes.
This has created opportunities for criminals: Dog thieves are so active that DoneDeal has suspended dog advertising. Following the seizure of 10 dogs in Rathkeale, Co Limerick, gardaí reminded people of the legal obligation to microchip dogs.
We can all help stop pet rustling by being scrupulous in establishing the credentials of anyone offering a dog for sale. Genuine breeders will welcome this, as it shows the responsibility pet ownership demands.
Don’t buy a dog in a poke.