An unexpected illness or injury to your pet could lead to veterinary bills in the thousands of dollars, leaving you struggling to find a way to pay them. But don’t despair, there is help available.
I know, it happened to me. A couple of years ago my cat Bonehead was diagnosed with bone cancer. My first question was “Can it be treated?” After discussing the treatment options, my next question was “How much will it cost?” I was taken aback when the costs were explained. I found myself wondering if I could even afford it. Luckily I was able to cobble together what I needed with money from a savings account, money from a retirement account, and using credit cards to get Bonehead the treatment.
But others may not be as fortunate when it comes to having access to cash or credit, putting the needed treatment out of reach. But there are things they can do and places to which they can turn for help.
These are some of the things I learned when dealing with Bonehead’s cancer – they can serve as a starting point to help you get your pet the treatment it needs.
The first thing you should do personal inventory to determine what you’d be able to pay toward the treatment. How much can you afford to take out of your savings? Do you have access to a retirement account and what are the penalties for early withdrawal? Do you have access to credit? Would family or friends be able to assist you? You need to keep in mind the long-term impacts of your choices – for example, if you max out your credit cards, will you be able to afford the monthly payments? Or if you use all of your savings, what will you do if your car breaks down or a family members becomes ill. Look at you current monthly budget. Are there areas where you can make cuts or is there room for additional payments?
The next thing you should do is talk to your vet. Explain you financial situation and ask if they can offer a payment plan or financing. My vet wasn’t able to provide a payment plan, but he did suggest that I consider getting a Care Credit card (www.carecredit.com). Care Credit is accepted by many veterinarians and offers no-interest and low monthly payment options. I applied and was approved the same day which is important in cases of emergency. If your vet doesn’t offer financing or payment options, you can also call around to other veterinarians in your area to see if they may have them available. Your vet may also be able to suggest local organizations that might be able to assist you in getting your pet the needed care.
The next step is to go online. The are a multitude of organizations that will help pay for the care your pet needs. These are just a few that might be able to assist you:
Established in 1999, HELP-A-PET is a nonprofit organization with a single purpose: to provide financial assistance nationwide for the medical care of pets whose owners are unable to afford the expense.
“Helping people help pets”. To better the lives of sick, injured and abused companion animals. We are dedicated to insure that no companion animal has to be euthanized simply because their caretaker is financially challenged.
The Pet Fund is a registered 501(c) 3 nonprofit association that provides financial assistance to owners of domestic animals who need veterinary care. Often animals are put down or suffer needlessly because their owners cannot afford expensive surgery or medical treatment. Companion animal owners must often make the difficult decision to put an animal down or neglect medical needs because of the costs involved.
The Humane Society of the United States’ Web site is a great resource. It has a variety of lists of organizations willing and able to help. Check out the Humane Society’s Web site at http://www.humanesociety.org/animals/resources/tips/trouble_affording_veterinary_care.html.
So if you pet becomes ill, or is injured, you have resources available to help you ensure it receives the care it needs.