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The Future is NOW

July 29, 2013
The Bionic Dog

The Bionic Dog

I was given a writing assignment the other day about something that I knew very little about. I am posting about it today because it is quite a wonderful achievement, but it also spooks me out too. I find it super futuristic (except for the fact that the future is here now) and it has a feeling of 1950 and 1960 science fiction to it.

Although it isn’t news to many people in other parts of the world, I just learned about a television show that was aired on BBC at the end of 2010 called “The Bionic Vet.” This show is a documentary series that looks at the work of Noel Fitzpatrick, a veterinarian known as the ‘bionic vet’. Fitzpatrick is pioneering revolutionary new surgical techniques that save and improve the lives of pets from all over the England.

Without a doubt, there is tremendous hope involved in Noel Fitzpatrick’s work and the work of others in similar ventures. It is not uncommon for many people to love their pets as much as many people in their lives, (sometimes deservedly even more.) So when something becomes available that can prolong or improve the life of their animal, they are willing to try.

There is also no doubt that this type of procedure is found here with our pets rather than human beings, because the restrictions are so much less confining for the need for experimentation. There is much more leeway when it comes to working with implants and prosthetics with animals, at least for the time being.

But we are getting closer and closer to the time when it will become more of a regular procedure with people as well – and we need to face the ethical debate that rises with the advancing technology.

My 96 year old aunt was hospitalized again this weekend. Her heartbeat is extremely low and the physicians and nurses agree with my cousin that at this point and time, a pacemaker may not be a blessing at all. Although they initially were talking more in the 24 hour range for her heart to give out, we are nearing day three and she is still alive, even requesting a bit of applesauce because she is hungry.

But we know what her wishes are and nobody is looking at heroics as an option. She has been given a voice in her care and she has made her desires known. Those of us closest to her are respecting those desires.

Oscar the Bionic cat

Oscar the Bionic cat

But when it comes to our pets, we are their voice. We make the decision exclusively as to whether we try and prolong their lives or not. And I don’t know about you, but that scares me because they are the ones subjected to the procedures and the outcomes but we are the ones making the decision for them.

Is it just me or does that not sound like an extremely ethical consideration? As you all know, I adore my four-legged children and there is a part of me that can’t even imagine life without them, but I never would have considered running interference of any type with the natural process of life and death.

Almost every boyfriend and partner I have ever had has been a Trekkie and this issue takes me into the realm of the Prime Directive that the genius of Gene Roddenberry spoke about in the far-ahead future.

It looks as if the future is here and so are some of the preliminary ethical issues that come along with it.


I’m a licensed clinical social worker and have worked extensively as a counselor with children, adolescents, couples and families. I combine professional experience in the mental health field along with my love of writing to provide insight into real-life experiences and relationships. I hope my down-to-earth approach to living a happier, more meaningful life is easy to understand and just as easy to start implementing right away for positive results!


From → Media, Pets

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