In February 2013 I spent a week in the Animal Hospital Hanover, the oldest animal clinic in Germany. Its history goes back to 1776.
During my stay I followed the daily routines of Doris Hoeltig a young vet specializing in pigs, goats and sheep, through early morning patient rounds, operations, daily meetings, farm visits and night shifts. The fine balance between life and death was present every day. I was moved by what I saw, a tender care for each individual animal, and was also struck by how much more pragmatic our approach is when it comes to the end of an animal’s life. In order to limit unnecessary pain, farmers and private owners alike would often forgo one last procedure that might or might not extend a life by very much but that would most likely extend pain or suffering. Our conversations are far removed from this perspective on care when we talk about human life where the core value still seems to be to extend it no matter what.