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Natural Awakenings Fairfield Cty/Housatonic Valley, CT

Broken Bones and Broken Hearts: The Emotional Cost of Emergency Veterinary Care

Dec 05, 2016 03:08AM ● By Ruth Pearl

Can you imagine yourself rushing to an animal hospital with a severely injured or seriously ill pet, only to be turned away because you can’t leave a $1000-$2000 deposit? Welcome to capitalism, corporate America and the new, “modern” way of practicing veterinary medicine. At Pet Assistance Inc, we get calls every week about such situations: dogs and cats with dangling broken legs are sent home with pain killers because their human parents can’t afford an expensive surgery. Sometimes the limb is stabilized, other times it is not. Other pets are sent away with total urinary blockages and infected uteruses ready to rupture; again, pain killers are prescribed.

Disabled, elderly and ordinary pet owners who may have only a few hundred dollars to spare, watch with broken hearts as pets they have loved, cared for and owned for months or years suffer and die at home.

In the past, we mostly had caring, compassionate pet doctors who did their very best to heal animals and, foremost, relieve pain and suffering. True, maybe a few pets that died wouldn’t have if there had been access to some high-tech diagnostics. The pet owners had the emotional support of their trusted doctors and were not made to feel guilty about not having the money. These days, even though the diagnostic equipment has been paid for, the prices for testing seem to continue to escalate regularly at state-of-the-art, corporate owned veterinary hospitals, emergency facilities and veterinary specialty groups. The sad reality is that one can spend $10,000 on diagnostics and vet bills yet still end up with an animal that passed away.

One thing to think about as you contemplate spending lots of money on diagnostic testing is whether you are doing it for the dog or cat’s quality of life or for your own need to try to keep them around as long as possible. When one has all the answers to medical questions, closure probably comes sooner, even if the pet dies. And for those who lose their pets without fully understanding why or because a $3,000 MRI was out of reach for them, don’t feel guilty. Just know you loved and cared for your pet as best you could …..cry, grieve, get another dog, cat or bunny rabbit and start all over, with love.

Ruth Pearl is founder and president of Pet Assistance Inc, a humane society based in New Preston that provides financial assistance for emergency veterinary care in 49 states (not Hawaii). See Pet Resource Guide listing, page 49. For more information or to make a donation, visit See Pet Resource Guide listing,
page 49.

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