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October 21, 2010

What If You Can't Afford The Vet?

I was crusing my Facebook news like I do every 50 seconds of every day and I saw an update from my friend Melaina. She works at the Calgary Humane Society and she hears all the excuses under the sun why folks surrender their pets to the shelter. Her update this morning went something like this: "Nothing gets to me more than when people email the shelter from their Blackberrys and iPhones saying they need financial assistance to spay/neuter their pet."

I can see her point. If you can afford a cell phone and can pay for a 3G data package, why can't you afford the care required for responsible pet guardianship? Or if you can't afford both, don't have a pet in your care.

Not all folks are this irresponsible though. Some truly do care well for their pets but sometimes things happen that can cause us to face some pretty hefty vet bills. Like the time a friend's dog ate a poisonous plant. Now that was crazy!

It’s necessary for all pet parents to be prepared in case emergencies arise. Knowing your vet and the services they provide is a great place to start. Finding out the answers to the following questions will assist you in knowing what to expect so you can plan ahead:

- What are your vet’s payment policies?
- Are payment plans available?
- Does your vet offer emergency hours at their practice?
- If they don’t, where would you be referred to for emergency care?

The internet is a great source of information, but it’s not the appropriate place to find a cure to your dog’s sickness. Your sick dog will need to be examined and treated as soon as possible. Delaying care can add to the expenses considerably.

If your dog is ill and you’re unable to pay for your vet visit, there are some possible solutions to consider:

Veterinary Pet Insurance
Even though pet insurance has been available for many years, it’s being more commonly used by pet owners today. The best time to sign your pet up is in their early years. It's nice to have comfort in knowing that if an emergency does occur, the expenses could be considerably less.

Pet Emergency Credit Card
Maintaining a pet emergency credit card allows pet guardians to pay the vet bill in full, and make payments on the credit card as able.

Payment Plans Offered Through Your Vet
Many pet parents don’t even bother calling their veterinarian when money is an issue, assuming the vet will refuse them outright. You may be surprised. Many vets do offer some sort of payment plan on a case-by-case basis. It never hurts to ask.

Check Your Local Humane Society or Shelter
Your local Humane Society or animal shelter may be able to offer you low-cost veterinary care or vouchers to use at your vet’s office. But send an email from your smart phone! A phone call might be a better solution.

Veterinary Schools
Many veterinary schools take on unique cases as learning tools. This will usually be at no cost to the pet owner.

The important thing to remember is the quicker treatment is provided to a sick or injured dog, the better. Also, planning ahead will help lessen the stress that an emergency situation brings.

Don’t forget to “paw it forward.” If you’re not in a financially tough situation, consider donating money to your favorite animal charity to help future animals in need.

1 comment:

  1. I love your article! I was recently told my pup has Epilepsy, less than a month later was told he had Glaucoma...then within a week was told he was blind and needed urgent surgery!! About 2 weeks later, we learned that his eye surgery was rejecting, and he may need another surgery to completely close/remove the entire eye. I was devastated and heartbroken. I didn't have the money for all of this...I had an infant to care for, and was lucky to have parents who footed the bills for me. Financially there was no one else to help me! So take to heart the "emergency pet fund." It may make the difference of life and death, or giving up your beloved family member!