Vet Bills

There is something wrong somewhere when a visit to the veterinarian required a bank loan to pay for treatment!

There is something wrong somewhere when a visit to the veterinarian required a bank loan to pay for treatment!

This was going to be yesterday’s post, but then Marshall took a turn for the worse. It was written between vet visits, before I knew that his treatment was going to cost a couple of thousand dollars.

The sign in the photo I snapped at 2 a.m. Monday says it all: “Financing Available Here.”

If you really love your pet and will do anything to preserve their life, you are probably going to need financing at some point. As medical science has advanced for humans, so too has animal medicine. But that health care comes with a cost.

I remember reading last fall about a veterinarian performing surgery on a goldfish. The cost was a relatively modest $200, but I did question it at the time. Admittedly it has been a long time since I purchased a goldfish, and prices have probably gone up, but my last one cost 39 cents. Two hundred dollars seems like a hefty vet bill to me – 500 times replacement cost.

At least with a cat or dog or even a mouse there is a tactile experience, a bonding that you can have with the animal. You don’t spend much time snuggling with a goldfish, not unless you want to replace your fish daily. Obviously my feelings are be shared by that particular goldfish’s owner.

There are times when I wonder if we have taken leave of our senses when it comes to our animals. When I was a boy, cat and dog food came in two basic types: cheap and expensive. To me there didn’t seem to be any question – go with the cheap, plus an occasional treat. After all, nutritional factors being equal, my family tends to eat a lot more chicken than filet mignon, why should the pets be better treated than my children? Tasty nutritious meals are important, the best cut of meat perhaps not as much.

Now when you enter a pet store you can be overwhelmed by the dietary choices. Kitten and puppy food, adult, senior and a host of other options, including, as I discovered this week, urinary tract food, though I think you need a prescription for that (and you can imagine the cost). All of which supposedly keeps your pet healthier.

Marshall’s vet bill this week was very close to the limit I had set before taking him in. I’m not necessarily hard-hearted, but I am practical – and I think that is why my daughter woke me to drive her to the clinic. She knew a hard choice might have to be made and didn’t to make it alone. She loved her cat.

I factored that into the mental dollar figure I had set. Just talking to the vet is $75, plus tax. A new cat, with all its shots and neutering thrown in, is a little more than $200. Why would you spend any money on more than very basic veterinary care if there was no emotional attachment? In my case the attachment is to my daughter, not the cat, so I spent almost twice the cat replacement cost on the initial visit. It was only when that was unsuccessful that I had to really examine what we could afford. The second visit, which included euthanasia, cost the same as the first, making it a very expensive couple of days with no positive outcome. Life can be line that sometimes.

I made the hard choice this time, the same choice I have made in the past. I’m not certain it has ever been the right choice emotionally – but we just couldn’t afford the other option.


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