When You Can’t Afford the Vet
A pet parent not being able to afford a veterinary care is an issue I encounter time and time again, especially in the age of the internet where people often post their difficult situations publicly and perhaps reach out for help, even if only prayers and well-wishes.
But it always leaves me wondering what they ultimately do.
For example, below is a post that I just happened to stumble across a few minutes ago at a site where people simply ask for prayer. At quick perusal, it looks like most people who post at this site post with a name, but this person chose to post anonymously. (As a note, I cannot remember how I ended up at that particular site – it was linked from somewhere else… just truly a stumble.)
has some pain
12 hours ago by anonymous
Please pray for my little dog, Sparky. The other day, he just started to cry when we would try to pick him up. Whenever he would cry, he would walk around a little before sitting back down, then would look very uncomfortable. He’s been like this for two days, and we are taking him to the vet, however, we were told if they have to do xrays, that will be 235.00, which we don’t have. Please pray that in the morning he feels better, and that they don’t have to do xrays. We love Sparky. He is a Papillon. He only weighs 7 pounds, and is 8 years old.
Pulled from: Peaceful Planet Pets
This is just one of probably thousands of similar posts I’ve seen over the years… people whose pets have an illness or injury, but they just simply cannot afford veterinary care. I do not blame them – most of us have faced similar financial struggles in our lives, or might even be experiencing such a struggle presently.
But what do they do? Unless it’s someone you know personally, you rarely get a follow-up. You do not get to know if their pet got better, if they perhaps borrowed money from family or friends, if they maybe used some credit, or if the animal just continues to suffer for lack of care. I know that some people end up making the very painful decision to surrender their beloved family member to a shelter or rescue after finding out that it will need care far beyond the scope of their financial means. Sadly, some even make the decision to euthanize their sick or injured pet. But again, you don’t often get to know this.
Not knowing the outcome makes me tremendously sad… for both the pets and the parents. This is one of the many, many things that keep me awake at night.
When our Li’l Girl injured her back in January 2012, we managed to put together the $4,000 it ultimately cost us – that was for emergency visit, CT scan, the surgery, plus her 2-night stay. Let me tell you… that money was no small potatoes. But if someone’s daughter was in immense pain and facing possible paralysis; I think that most parents, regardless of financial circumstance, would do whatever it takes to pay for the treatment the child needed.
We don’t have human children. Our dogs ARE our children. We didn’t hesitate to rake up the amount needed for her surgery because we wouldn’t have hesitated had she been a human daughter. Watching our girl run around now like nothing ever happened is, most assuredly, the best four grand we ever spent. And we’d do again in a heartbeat.
So I think about how this person cannot afford the $235.00 for x-rays. But what if the dog needs even more specialized diagnostic tests? And then perhaps needs an expensive treatment? What will s/he ultimately end up doing? Will the dog remain in pain? Will the situation get worse?
I’ve seen so many stories of animals that suffer for very, very long time due to lack of medical care. Injuries, illnesses, infections, growths, etc. that go unchecked and just get worse and worse and worse.
I will wonder about this “anonymous” person and her(?) Papillon, just like I wonder about all the other stories and pleas that I read but never get the follow-up on. Sometimes I get to reach out to them personally. Sometimes, like in this case, I don’t.
I can only pray that before letting their pets suffer further, and before making a very painful decision – that they keep reaching out for help and that they research resources they may be able to turn to for assistance.
If you find yourself in a difficult spot and are in need of veterinary assistance:
- BE PROACTIVE.
- The first step is to ask your vet if they offer a payment plan. If they don’t, perhaps they can be encouraged to offer one through a company like VetBilling.com.
- You might also ask your vet if you may be able to do some work for them, such as cleaning kennels, answering phones, walking the dogs, etc. in lieu of cash payment. An unorthodox approach, but you never know until you ask.
- Next, contact your local animal welfare organizations and advocacy groups. Even if they cannot help you directly, they may be able to point you in the direction of other organizations in your area that offer financial assistance for veterinary bills.
- Also, if you live near a university that offers degrees in veterinary medicine, contact them to see if they offer low-cost services through their programs. You can search schools by state at the AVMA.
- Don’t be afraid to ask friends and family for help at a time of need – you might even consider starting your own fundraiser with a platform like YouCaring, GoFundMe, FundRazr, etc.
- Lastly, many veterinarians accept CareCredit, a financing option specifically for health-related care, including veterinary care for your pet. Most people are approved for CareCredit, even those who might not be approved for other forms of credit. This is an immediate and therefore extremely useful resource. However, I recommend it only as a last resort because I hate to see people pushed into debt at a time when they are already struggling financially.
Below is an alphabetical list of national organizations that offer financial assistance for veterinary needs:
Actors and Others for Animals: www.actorsandothers.com
American College of Veterinary Surgeons www.acvs.org
Angels 4 Animals www.angels4animals.org
Bandit’s Bandaid faithbark.com/bandits-bandaid
The Big Hearts Fund (financial assistance for the diagnosis and treatment of canine and feline heart disease): www.bigheartsfund.org
The Binky Foundation: www.binkyfoundation.org
The BirchBark Foundation: www.birchbarkfoundation.org
Brown Dog Foundation (prescription medications): www.browndogfoundation.org
Canine Cancer Awareness: www.caninecancerawareness.org
Cats In Crisis: www.catsincrisis.org
The Dog & Cat Cancer Fund: www.dccfund.org
Feline Veterinary Emergency Assistance fveap.org
For the Love of Alex, Inc. fortheloveofalex.org
God’s Creatures Ministry Veterinary Charity: www.all-creatures.org
Gracie’s Mission graciesmission.org
Hearts United for Animals www.hua.org
Magic Bullet Fund (cancer-specific): www.themagicbulletfund.org
MaxFund (for animals with no known owner) www.maxfund.org
The Mosby Foundation: www.themosbyfoundation.org
The Onyx & Breezy Foundation: www.onyxandbreezy.org
Paws 4 A Cure: www.paws4acure.org
Pet Food Bank: www.petco.com
Pet Food Stamps: www.petfoodstamps.org
The Pet Fund: www.thepetfund.com
Pets of the Homeless (pet food and veterinary care assistance for homeless): www.petsofthehomeless.org
RedRover Relief: www.redrover.org
Rose’s Fund: www.rosesfund.org
Shakespeare Animal Fund: www.shakespeareanimalfund.org
Top Dog Foundation “Bentley Grant”: www.topdogfoundation.org
If you find yourself needing help, reach out and ask. Your sweet furry friends deserve medical care when they need it, and they are completely dependent on you to provide it. If you know someone who needs help, reach out and lend a hand (or a paw), and spread the word. No animal should suffer simply for the lack of funds.
PLEASE NOTE: This page includes a list of organizations you may contact for help. Please understand that I am just a regular person and cannot personally offer direct assistance, as much as I wish I could.