In my early vet days at a rural mixed practice, we were often rushed off our feet and perpetually pissed off at people who felt like they didn’t have to pay for our services, and would promise to pay, get their pets treated, and promptly never show up again. (We were absolutely dirt cheap too).
One day a cat came in that was hit by a car. Got his face smashed up fairly badly, but still stable enough for him to crawl home and get brought in to us. I was not the vet that admitted him, but I ended up doing surgery. He had a fractured mandibular symphysis and a nasty tongue laceration that I put back together.
He recovered ok, but it became apparent the next day that while his radiographs had looked ok, and his jaw closed normally under anaesthetic, but now that he was awake he would not eat, and his jaw dislocated to the side when he opened it fully, unable to close properly again. Unable to eat, he would need another anaesthetic to try to stabilize his jaw further. We were not a specialist clinic, and had no specialist surgeon in the state to refer him to, so we would have to be hitting the books and doing the best we were able to do, with no guarantee. To make the situation worse, the owners were in a spot of financial difficulty and the wife was due for a caesarian that week for medical reasons. Managing the family human health concerns alongside the cat was going to be too much, so they tearfully decided that they would have to put him to sleep.
Now this cat was an awesome cat. Anybody’s friend, not bothered by anything, a real smoochy cuddly soul. He was a kids cat, and other than his recent trauma had been pretty healthy. It also didn’t seem fair at all that so many people had taken advantage of the clinic’s generous credit policy, (the clinic was owed upwards of $200,000 from people ‘forgetting’ to pay their bill or 'promising’ to pay next week) here we had one family actually admitting they wouldn’t be able to pay and they would end up with a dead cat while those that had ripped us off got essentially free treatment.
I was in a situation, living on my own those last few months, where I could manage to adopt a cat (as long as the landlord didn’t know). So when the vet managing his case wen to speak to the owners, I told her that if they wanted to put him down, I’d adopt him and would try to patch him up with my own money on my own time.