The moment you walk into a pet store with your seven-year-old daughter, a snow-white Maltese puppy starts barking behind the glass window. “Mommy, look! We can name her sweetie.” The Maltese puppy tilts her head from side to side looking at both of you with those luminescent, dark black eyes. You can’t help bringing the puppy home. Your husband is told how much your daughter wants the puppy except how much you want her secretly as well. Your husband sighs and says, “Ok, I guess.”
*Price of puppy from the pet store: $1200
Next morning you wake up and find the puppy sound asleep next to your daughter. ‘Wait a minute. Is that dog pee and poop I see on the bed?’ You talk to your daughter about how Sweetie cannot sleep on her bed until she is potty-trained.
*Price of a dog crate: $99
*Miscellaneous purchases from the pet store (food, treats, leash, collar, feeding bowls, dog bed, pee-pads, baby gate, and toys): $250
Couple days later, you bring the puppy to a vet clinic for her puppy vaccine. You learn that she needs a total of three visits to finish all puppy vaccines series. Fecal test comes back positive for intestinal parasites and she is put on medication.
*Total cost of three vet visits (exam, vaccines, heartworm prevention, flea/tick prevention, fecal test, dewormer): $400
Five months later, your puppy gets spayed at a vet clinic. She comes home with a cone around her head, which she frantically tries to get off using her front paws.
*Spay cost: $250
One day, your husband calls you while you are at work. You are told that the puppy has been barely moving and your daughter has seen her vomiting. You give the vet’s information to your husband. Off to the vet he goes.
*Veterinary bill for exam, bloodwork, and x-ray: $400
The vet tells your husband that the puppy’s bloodwork shows severe changes from possible pancreatitis that would likely require multiple days of hospitalization at a 24 hour-care facility.
*Estimate for hospitalization for 3 to 5 days and ultrasound: $1200-1800
Your husband gets choked up seeing the estimate sheet. He doesn’t tell the vet that he has been struggling for the past year to make mortgage payments. He simply says that he will discuss with his wife and get back.
After hearing from your husband what happened at the vet’s office, you call the vet.
“Do you offer any payment plans?”
“Unfortunately we do not. You may apply for care-credit, which you can make monthly payments to the credit card company that pays for medical bills.”
Then, you rush to the clinic to talk to the vet.
“My application for care-credit was declined. I can’t come up with the money.”
“I am so sorry to hear that. Is there any way you can borrow money from your family or friends?”
“What if I can’t borrow any? I really don’t want to burden them.”
“I am so sorry to tell you this. But we won’t be able to get her treated without payment.”
Your heart sinks. It’s like being told your sick child cannot be treated without any payment.
“Isn’t that kind of cruel?” Your word slips out of your mouth.
“Oh. Ms. Jones, I am so sorry. I wish I can treat everyone for free, but unfortunately vet clinic is a business with bills to pay.”
Your face is burning with mixed feelings of anxiety and embarrassment. Your eyes are getting foggy with tears. You are so absorbed in saving your puppy that the last thing on your mind is what the vet is going through right now.
Dr. Heather has been through a rough week. She is the hospital owner and business has been going downhill that forced her to defer her school loan of $200,000. She’s on the verge of not being able to make payments for the business loan she took out for the hospital. Yesterday, she worked hard to save a dog that was hit by a car. Owners wanted Dr. Heather to do everything to save him. However, when the dog didn’t make it and passed away, owners were furious about having to make payments. Dr. Heather is really broken-hearted for Ms. Jones’ situation, but she really is not in the position to treat the dog for free.
Ms. Jones was able to borrow money from her aunt with certain conditions that included: getting financial counseling and adopting out the dog.
Sweetie recovers from pancreatitis and comes home. After financial counseling, Ms. Jones realizes how much of her habit of spending was affecting the family. She talks to her daughter that mama’s sorry, but it is all for the family and for the dog. Sweetie gets adopted with the help of humane society and adapts to the new family well.
Michigan Humane Society states financial concerns as one of the main reasons why people surrender their pets. There are some ways to save costs for your pets that include: going to humane society veterinary clinics, spay/neuter clinics, getting pet insurances, and purchasing only the necessary products for your pets. However, the root of the problem is getting pets without any plan and budget to give the right care for the pets. Before you even purchase or adopt a pet, please make sure to check if you can provide adequate care for your pet whose life-span may be 10 to 20 years. It is a great joy to have a pet, but it comes with a great responsibility.
*Costs in the article reflect estimated cost of pet care in southern Michigan.
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