Saturday, December 11, 2010

The Cost of Animal Care---Have Your Credit Card Ready

My wife and I are responsible pet owners. All of our animals have been neutered or spayed. The dogs have the run of a large fenced in yard. The cats are all indoor and their front paws are de-clawed (not in the mood about the discussion about to "de-clawwing or not"---as they were all indoor cats).

With the exception of the purebred collie and one cat, all of our pets have wandered into and then stayed in our lives.

I laughed when people referred to their pets as their children. Being a real man, I would not classify our animals as our children. Rather the dogs and cats are an integral part of our lifestyle. Oh hell, I’ll concede they are kind of like our very furry children.

Each dog and cat has brought very distinct personalities and brought companionship into our lives. After a bad day at work, the dogs greet us unconditionally with their drooling tongues and wagging tales. The dogs’ requests have generally been very simple: pet, talk, feed, walks, or play with me. The cats’ requests have been equally as simple: I will allow you to feed me or I might allow you to play with me.

Our first set of dogs came in as a male trio and unfortunately their stay with us was much too short. Their average age was 10 years old and within a span of about 1-year they had all died. Our household was empty of those running, drooling, and shedding animals that followed us around the house or followed me as I mowed the yard.

I had read in some textbook or saw on television that after a dog dies, one should not go out and replace the dog immediately. The goal I had set was one year of grieving. One year, exactly, of grieving and my wife actually agreed! But our current dog, Misty, (fortunately) wandered into our lives about 5 months earlier than the one year time frame and has been with us about 9 years now.

So, hopefully as you read my comment, you will realize I am a total sentimental fool when it comes to our furry children, rather animals.

This is the serious part. It is hard for me to view animals as children when it comes to veterinarian bills. The cost of vet bills can be staggering and the vets owe it to the animal’s owner to be up front and honest about costs and help the grieving pet owner come to terms when they cannot pay the thousands of dollars to save a sick animal.

In our area, we have a great state of the art animal hospital that I dread to visit when our veterinarian refers to any of our ailing animals. I particularly dread it when the vet says our pet might have to stay over for a night or two. The costs are just beginning! This is when my furry child and best friend becomes just an animal.

The animal hospital offers 24 hour emergency care. The hospital floor layout and building has all of the appearance of a scaled down state of the art human hospital. There are receptionists at the front door and animal technicians dressed like nurses sit at the desk. Each of the vet practitioners has a biographical description of their impressive background with a description of their specialty.

The animal patients have charts and are referred to as patients and the staff follows some Veterinarian HIPAA rules to preserve the patient’s privacy. No one will talk to you unless you are a member of the patient’s family, rather owner of the patient of record.

Other than the animal patients roaming the polished tiled floors, there is another noticeable difference from the human hospital. Unlike the human hospital where the uninsured can get treatment, at the animal hospital all bills are paid for up front first and those bills can run into the thousands—so have your credit or debit card ready!

Edward Houghton

Next Blog: Tough Choice to Make

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