There are few things more heartbreaking than receiving a plea for financial help from a devastated pet owner whose dog or cat is critically ill or injured. For animal lovers everywhere who know the importance of receiving immediate veterinary care when needed, what do those without the financial means do for their suffering pet?
For some inexplicable reason, it seems most serious illnesses start at night or on the weekends when regular vets are not in their office. Emergency vets are available of course but they are more expensive and for an owner faced with an enormous cash outlay, often a last resort…or no resort at all. And sadly, many ailments not treated quickly can prove to be fatal.
So what can we do NOW to prepare for the time when one of our dogs or cats becomes ill? Because it is almost a certainty that such a time WILL happen one day.
The majority of people nowadays have at least one credit card. Though many will be loathe to use it, there is no more important time than now. But what if your credit card is maxed out and you have no savings?
1. Go to carecredit.com and apply for a card today. Put it away and do not touch it unless you have a critical pet emergency.
2. Apply for another credit card to be used ONLY for future pet emergencies. Stash it somewhere you won’t see it, won’t think of it, and won’t be tempted to use it for something else.
3. Start this week putting away a small amount in a separate account specifically for your pet. It may only be $5.00 or $10.00 out of each paycheck, but if you don’t touch it it will eventually become your pet’s lifesaver.
4. When you receive a bonus, a cash gift, a tax return check, a Christmas savings check…put some of that money in your separate fund.
5. Establish a relationship with ONE vet who you will see regularly. Ask if they offer a payment plan (but do not be surprised if they say no). A vet is a business just like any other and they have bills to meet just as you and I do with our own families. Still, having a long-term, good relationship with the person who will always lovingly care for your pets is helpful.
6. Consider pet insurance. There are many different companies and many different policies with various coverage. Some people love them, others would rather put that same premium amount in a savings account earmarked for pet emergencies.
7. Ask your friends or family members for an emergency loan. Obviously, if they are kind enough to help you out, repay them.
8. You may choose to use crowdfunding sites but remember – these will not help you in an IMMEDIATE emergency.
9. Likewise you can find lists of national and regional resources by googling which might help with catastrophic surgeries or the like but will not get your pet critical immediate help.
10. Local rescue groups may help with small donations but remember that they too are helping many others and their financial well is never as full as they would like.
In short, your pets – part of your family – need the care that only YOU can provide them. Don’t put yourself in the devastating position of looking at your desperately ill pet and feeling there is nothing you can do to help them. Our pets have only us to depend on. Don’t let them down.