Obama’s National Institute of Health (NIH) has suspended its dog therapy program due to the government shutdown.
In the past, the program has brought joy to thousands of sick patients, including children with terminal cancers.
John Burklow, a spokesperson for NIH, said that the there was not enough money in the budget to continue the program during the shutdown. He pointed out that the dogs must be seen by veterinarians before visiting patients, which can be costly.
Tax dollars pay for the vets, who are federal employees. Everyone else involved in the dog therapy program is an unpaid volunteer.
“A vet needs to evaluate the dogs, and given that there is a 25 percent reduction in staff (furloughed), we focus our activities and staffing on the care of patients already at our hospital,” Burklow said. “We will resume the program once the government is re-opened.”
Abbey Whetzel’s son, Sam, is dying from leukemia. Seeing the therapy dogs used to bring Sam joy and give him something to look forward to.
Abbey said during an interview on National Public Radio, “They can only come once a week, but it’s the highlight of Sam’s week. He was disappointed. He really looks forward to the dogs coming. He has a special fondness for the little dogs that can come and just sit on his bed and lay down and curl up with him.”
The absence of the dog therapy program is heartbreaking for some families, like the Whetzels. While the vets do incur some cost, it is likely minimal compared to other federal staff that was not furloughed as a result of the government shutdown.
Some journalists, particularly those on the right, have accused the Obama Administration of unnecessary shut downs to inflict maximum pain.
John Nolte from Breitbart News writes, “While our president still enjoys his essential employees and locations: the White House chefs, Camp David, and a military golf course, there doesn’t seem to be any question that in mercenary pursuit of a political win, this White House is determined to unreasonably punish as many everyday people as possible. And this includes children sick with cancer. That might sound like hyperbole, but it is not.”
Similarly, conservative journalist Charles Krauthammer argued that the Obama administration is trying to “punish” the American people with cuts that have a drastic impact.
On Wednesday, Krauthammer said on Fox News, “The administration is using anything it doesn’t like as a way to punish the American people. But there’s a larger issue here. And that is, as the state becomes larger and larger, the bureaucracy becomes stronger and more arrogant and independent. It believes in it so, and after all, it regulates. That’s what it does. And it becomes punitive, in the sense it says, ‘Listen, you want to hold up the government. We’re going to show you who’s in charge. We’re going to shut down all the monuments, you know. And if we don’t get a blank check, we’re going to do x, y and z.'”
Do you think conservative journalists are on-point?
Could the cutting of the dog therapy program by a means to “punish” us and inflict maximum public pain?
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