There are a lot of stories in our world. Most of them very happy, some are sad. We had one recently that could have gone either way. Libby, an adorable little shih tsu, was presented with a urinary infection. The antibiotics cleared the infection, but there was still blood in her urine. An X-ray showed the stones that were causing the problem. She needed surgery to remove them, but it was beyond the budget of her owner. Even the offer of a payment plan would not make enough difference. The single mom simply could not afford to spend that much money on her beloved dog. Libby would have to be euthanized, as chronic pain and infection were not a reasonable option.
I think the hardest thing I have to deal with in my work is financial euthanasia. To know that I could help an animal, and the only thing standing in the way is the cost, is devastating. Veterinary medicine is more and more expensive, as is human medicine. We have the ability to do some pretty amazing things, but they come with a price. The minute I use the word “refer” I know that we are talking well over $1,000.00 to start. Bills exceeding $5,000.00 are not uncommon. The average person just doesn’t have that kind of money readily available.
People don’t take the option of pet insurance seriously until they are wishing that they had some. It seems like such a lot of money that you may never benefit from. Would you think of driving your car without insurance? Would you risk your home? The insurance companies count on you paying more than you collect, but when you need help, it is such a relief to have choices.
The good news is that we did manage to work things out for Libby. We just couldn’t euthanize such a sweet, happy young dog. With the stones gone she is doing very well.
Just last month I had another young dog come in – a 10 month old Visla that had been vomiting everything he ate for several days. I don’t think I’ve ever palpated an abdomen that empty. I knew that all of the possibilities would involve some expensive tests and procedures. The owners were a young couple and I was trying to choose my words carefully, when she told me that he was insured. My relief was immense. I told her that fortunately we would be able to avoid “the talk”. It was such a relief to be able to do what I needed to do to help this puppy, without having to worry about costs every inch of the way. That turned out to be a very good thing, as nothing about this case went routinely and even after surgery, it took medication, special diet and several months for him to recover. I know that without insurance his survival would have been in question.
More and more, as medical costs increase, pet insurance saves lives. It protects owner’s financial stability and, more importantly, their ability to keep their beloved pets in their family for as long as possible. No one wants to think anything could go wrong when they have a happy young animal. But both of these dogs were under five, Vinny not even a year old. Pet insurance needs to start with a new pet, to protect their health, but also because once a pet has an identified problem, it will become excluded from coverage as a pre-existing condition. For the price of a cup of coffee a day, you could prevent a lot of grief.
Save yourself and your pet from having to hear “the talk”.