Vets X-ray Pets, Not Wallets
Early on in my career I saw an elderly Golden Retriever owned by a single mom with 3 kids. The entire appointment she kept saying how she barely had money to feed her kids and she really hoped this visit wouldn’t be expensive. Her dog ended up having multiple abdominal masses, one of which appeared to be bleeding into his abdomen. She was devastated by the news and then said her mother would be coming in to help cover the cost of the visit. When she asked me what we should do the first thing I thought about was how difficult it would be for her to pay for surgery and chemotherapy. I thought about her kids not getting new school clothes because all the money went to pay for their dog’s surgery. So I told her the best, most kind option was euthanasia. She agreed and we euthanized the dog, they took the body home to bury it.
Several days later my hospital manager got a very angry phone call from the owner. She had been speaking with a friend whose dog had many of the same problems and had undergone surgery. The owner was furious that I had not even offered surgery as an option. She would have borrowed the money from her mother had she known. I euthanized her dog without discussing other options because I thought I was helping her and her children.
I have never made that mistake again, much to the chagrin of some clients. When presented with an estimate for care some people become angry and ask me what makes me think they have X amount of money to spend on a hamster. Other people laugh because to them, it’s just a cat and they would never imagine spending that amount. But lots of people don’t even bat an eye and tell me to proceed.
My job is to offer the absolute best care for animals, not to try and guess what people can and want to pay for. There is usually a plan B, C, and sometimes D and E if A is too expensive. Always keep that in mind when going to the vet before you become upset at the cost of something. There is nothing wrong with saying you just cannot afford it and you’d like to know the next best option.
Also remember though that sometimes, there is no option B. Unfortunately there are some cases when it’s either option A or euthanasia. Not because the vet doesn’t want to help but because the nature of the disease or problem requires a certain treatment. Euthanasia is far from being the cowards option or the option of someone who doesn’t care, sometimes it really is the kindest choice.
Discuss all of your concerns with your veterinarian and be honest about what you can and cannot afford and we will do our best to help you.