How much would you pay to save your pet’s life? For many of us, our pets are part of the family, and the very idea of putting a monetary value on their wellbeing is disturbing. But I learned the hard way that suddenly, without warning, you can be forced to do exactly that.
The Sunday after Thanksgiving, my husband found our cat on the street, badly injured by a car, but alive. Luckily there is excellent emergency veterinary care in our university town, and we rushed Scarface to the hospital. There he was stabilized, put in intensive care, and given a 50% chance to live. If he did survive the night, however, chances of recovery were good. There was only one catch-the cost would be thousands of dollars.
When you have just rushed a helpless, injured animal family member to the hospital, hoping against hope to make things better for him, you are not in the frame of mind to make a cold, dollars and cents decision. We committed to paying the bill, but it took a significant toll on our budget, especially when we found we needed unexpected car and house repairs shortly afterwards.
As I took Scarface in for expensive surgeries and checkups in the following weeks, I saw that I was by no means alone in racking up high bills for animal healthcare. Most of the other animals in the waiting room were dogs with cancer, and it was touching to see the owners’ and veterinarians’ dedication to treating them, even though in many cases the disease is fatal.
My story ended happily. Scarface is only six, and though he is almost blind now and paralyzed on one side of his face, he is otherwise normal and can eat, find his way around inside and out, and even hunt a little. If anything he is more loving and cuddly than he was before. I believe he is grateful.
We’re glad we paid for his treatment-but we’ve had to tighten our belts to manage. So I urge people who truly love their pets to look into purchasing pet insurance. Talk with your veterinarian, and do some research. (For a vet’s perspective on pet insurance, see here; for general information, check out this site.) Then do the responsible thing: prepare to take care of the pet you love, no matter what happens, without breaking the bank.