Months ago I wrote a blog entry unequivocally opposed to censorship. Well, perhaps I was wrong. Last night (actually in the wee hours of this morning), I found a case where censorship is not only justified, but preferred.
Around 2 AM we noticed that our dog Teddy's left hind leg was swollen. Since he contracted auto-immune disease a few weeks ago, we have been keeping a close eye on him. We called the animal hospital where he was treated, and they said we should bring him in just to be safe. That was how we found ourselves watching the Animal Planet cable channel in the hospital lounge at 4 AM. It was one of those shows with animal police who rescue abandoned kittens, abused dogs, etc. It was set in Miami, which the producers reminded us by showing brief glimpses of tanned, bikini-clad women between program segments (not that I'm complaining).
One of the dogs, named Kilo (since the police never found his owner, I assume they gave him that name), had a badly broken leg. He was a medium-sized, mixed breed that didn't look like either of our dogs but somehow reminded me of both. A neighbor said someone had run him over on purpose, but that was never verified. The animal police took Kilo to a vet who fixed his leg with a Rube Goldbergian brace. An older man adopted Kilo as he began his convalescence. When Kilo came in for a check-up, his leg looked better, but the vet noticed something disturbing--he was showing signs of neurological damage. In his time living on the street without proper care, he had contracted distemper. He had only a one-in-ten chance of recovering.
The vet came out to talk to us about Teddy's condition. She thought it was probably a blood clot, which is more common in dogs with auto-immune disease. She was uncertain whether he might have some sort of protein deficiency; the tests she ran showed low counts, but she didn't trust the machine because it sometimes gives bad readings. She recommended that we have it tested at our regular vet when we do his next blood test (by the way, Teddy's last red blood cell count was 31, a significant improvement). If the protein is a problem, it will require a few days of hospitalization. It sounds like something that may not be worth putting him through. We are concerned about where to draw the line between helping him get better versus merely keeping him alive for our own sake.
As she was talking to us, the TV program returned to Kilo for his next vet visit. This time he was in bad shape. He was shaking and clearly in pain. The vet told the owner, who had already grown quite attached to the little guy, that Kilo would have to be put down. As our vet talked about how to treat Teddy's blood clot, assuming it's just a clot, I watched the old guy give Kilo one last pat on the head goodbye and walk out of the room. Fade to black.
So that's one time when I would prefer censorship--the veterinary hospital should censor Animal Planet so people who are worried about their own pets only see the happy endings on TV. We don't need to see the alternative; it's already too real in our minds.