By: Revanche

Pets and money: where do you draw the line?

January 22, 2010

A friend and I were catching up the other day, when the subject of work came up.  She works in an animal clinic, and she told me about this sad case they recently saw where a woman brought in her new puppy for an exam.

This wasn’t a typical puppy wellness exam that comes with adopting an animal from the local shelter, or just because the pup was new.  The poor puppy had contracted canine parvovirus, commonly referred to as Parvo or abbreviated as CPV. Parvo’s a pretty miserable disease, and left untreated, especially in young dogs, can be fatal.  It basically causes the gastroinstestinal problems (sorry to the squeamish!) of vomiting and diarrhea which leads to dehydration and of course, it doesn’t take long for that to take out a young’un.  So it’s a serious matter when you bring a Parvo pup in for treatment, they have to be on fluids and medications, sometimes for weeks, until the virus clears out.  Sometimes it does, sometimes it doesn’t.  The only guarantee is that it’s a lengthy and usually expensive process unless someone foots the bill for you.

Your choices are limited: treat at the hospital and hope for the best, treat at home and hope for the best (while bleaching everything that comes into contact with the puppy), or decide to euthanize.

Confronted with this diagnosis, the woman didn’t know what to do.  This is a common response.

“I don’t have a job, my husband just lost his job, and I don’t know how I’m going to feed my (2) kids,” she wailed.  This is, unfortunately, a far more common response than it should be.

I have the biggest soft spot in the world for animals and have worked to pay the vet bills since I was 17, paying hand over fist for medical treatments for my dogs on occasion, but I have never put them before my family’s wellbeing, either.

On the one hand, I wanted to shake the woman, reach right through my friend’s narrative and give her a good shake: what were you doing bringing home another mouth to feed when neither breadwinner has income and you can’t feed your own children?!??

On the other hand, the damage is done and I fully believe “You are responsible, forever, for what you have tamed.” (Antoine de Saint-Exupery) That part of me wants to say: you find a way.  You will buckle down and you find a way.  I know that unemployment, especially now, is really not a choice, but picking up the responsibility of a domesticated animal that now relies on you, literally for its life, is your choice. And once you’ve made it, you’d better find a way to fulfill your responsibilities.  

A lot of people choose to go into debt using Care Credit which Miss M has written about before, a lot of people use regular credit cards, and a few of them will give the pet a fighting chance at home.  On occasion, some will opt to euthanize the pet.

What would you do? 

13 Responses to “Pets and money: where do you draw the line?”

  1. Red says:

    That’s a tough one. I totally agree with you about not bringing home a pet when you can barely afford to feed your own children. It sickens me the way some people treat pets as an accessory. My cats are part of my family, and I’ve gone hungry or donated plasma plenty of times to ensure that they were taken care of. I know that’s not healthy, but I didn’t bring them into my home so that they could be neglected again. (Both were adopted from shelters where they were brought in as strays, but Libel was declawed before being left out on the street so I know SOMEONE owned him before me.)

    If I was in her shoes, I would probably take it to a no-kill animal shelter. They’ll give it the care it needs, and it can be adopted out to another family. It’s clear that her family is not in the position to own a pet right now.

  2. Jackie says:

    I’d like to say that I wouldn’t have brought home the pet in the first place, but in the days before I knew better I did exactly that. I adopted cats & dogs thinking that I could afford them because I could pay for their food and shots. I didn’t think about what would happen if they got sick.

    Now though, I would care for the pet at home if I couldn’t afford treatment.

  3. That is so why I don’t have pets at this point in my life. I don’t have the time or money to take care of an animal the way it needs. You shouldn’t make the commitment if you can’t properly care for it from the start.

  4. L.A. Daze says:

    I would do whatever it takes to give that pup a fighting chance. My responsibility, my problem, i’ll just have to deal. I get so saddened when I hear stories of people who foreclosed on their homes and left their 4 legged and winged family members in the house. It breaks my heart. You don’t leave your kids behind…why would you let your pet suffer.

  5. oilandgarlic says:

    Unfortunately this women doesn’t sound very responsible in the first place. It does sound like a tough choice. Parvo is a vicious disease and you’re likely to spend thousands and still not be able to save the poor pup.

    Puppies are adorable and I loved my dogs instantly. However, as time goes on, where I draw the line has increased. My dogs are quirky, wonderful individuals that have become part of the family. At the same time, I wouldn’t want to prolong their lives if daily life becomes too painful for them.

  6. I would pay any amount of money to help my dog. I get sick when I hear people talk about putting down puppies because treatment is expensive. Pets are expensive. If you can’t afford it, then you shouldn’t have a pet. When I was a kid our puppy had Parvo. My parents were struggling with their finances as it was, but still paid to help the dog, who unfortunately didn’t make it. They were left with bills and no puppy, but they never questioned their decision to try to save the dog.

  7. Anonymous says:

    As a licensed vet tech, I see this all the time. And I can tell you the pup probably will die without hospitalization, and also that on average it costs about $2,000 to save the poor little guys. I, too, believe that once I bring an animal into my home, I owe it the best I can provide, even if it means a lot of sacrifice on my part.

    But having said that, if it’s a choice of feeding her family or saving the puppy, the children have to come first. I agree it was irresponsible to adopt a pet, given this couple’s financial situation. Even a healthy puppy costs money to care for properly.

  8. That’s such a sad story.

    Tho’ I don’t know how medical advances have helped deal with parvo, I do recall that in the dark ages, puppies did not recover well from this disease. The animal’s health could be permanently compromised. So you’re talking about the $2,000 outlay to keep the pup alive, and then possibly many years of chronic veterinary bills. It doesn’t sound like this person can afford that.

    How did the pup get parvo? Was it not vaccinated? Really, there’s no excuse for that.

    But even if a pup has had one or two shots, it shouldn’t be taken to a public place before the entire series of puppy shots has been administered and had time to “take.” Her vet or breeder should have told her this. Somebody, somewhere dropped a very large ball.

    Dumping a dog with a dangerous, highly contagious disease on a no-kill shelter is unacceptable. Where would the shelter come up with the cash to treat an animal that probably is going to die anyway, and that, if taken into the shelter’s kennels, could easily spread the disease to other dogs?

    If her husband just lost his job, they may have taken on the dog while he was still employed. This situation leaves them in a predicament. Faced with going into debt to keep a dog alive or feeding the kids, I’m afraid there’s no choice.

  9. Kyle says:

    This is a tough situation for anyone to be in, I was actually in a similar situation with my Dachshund who had a calcified disc in her back. They tried to treat her with steroids and it didn’t work so the other option was to do surgery. The surgery was going to cost over $4,000 and we just didn’t have the money. The option for Care Credit was brought up but I didn’t want to take on any additional debt. The vet was kind enough to suggest we try one more round of intensive steroid treatment via IV.

    We were fortunate and our pup is now walking around as if nothing happened. She doesn’t get to jump as much as she used to though. It tore me apart trying to decide what the best course of action was and I hope to never have to be in that situation again.

  10. eemusings says:

    I’m not an animal person, and I don’t think I would make all that great of a pet owner. My flatmate owns a cat, but really doesn’t care about it and is still feeding it kitten food even though it’s fully grown now. But I think if you’re going to do it, do it right! Pets, like children, are something you gotta plan for and be able to afford – they’re a responsibility. That being said, I don’t see anything wrong with giving up a pet as a last resort if you can’t care for it anymore (though some animal lovers disagree).

  11. Money Funk says:

    I am with everyone else… this is a tough situation.

    But if you don’t know how you are going to feed your family and two kids, I think you need to put them first. Don’t get me wrong, my cats are my kids. But if I had to make that choice it would be clear.

  12. Revanche says:

    @Red: I can’t imagine that a no-kill shelter would take on such a case, their resources are always strained with the rescues they already have that are healthy. But selling plasma? Thank you – I’m pretty much the same way. I’ll do whatever it takes to take care of my responsibilities.

    @Jackie: Honestly, I think that’s a very common problem, I don’t think people ask themselves, what if they get sick? Because with people, it’s not an option whether or not you treat, it’s how you treat or how much you can afford, but you always treat.

    When you’re faced with a $2k emergency pet situation … ?

    @meinmillions: Agreed.

    @L.A.Daze: Exactly, how is it justified to abandon a domesticated part of your family who depends on you?

    @oilandgarlic: It’s a sad immature decision to bring home a LIFE without any notion how you’re going to provide for it.

    And as our loved pets get older, we have to be sure we’re making the best decision for them, not for us.

    @Saving Cents in the City: I can’t fathom not even trying to help the pup, I’m glad your parents felt the same way. Again, I wouldn’t compromise my family’s health and safety, but knowing that is what drives me to be financially stable.

    @Anon Vet Tech: At least $2000, or more if you hit one of the pricier corporate hospitals. (I still have friends at my old haunts who report price increases.) I’ve seen a couple pups make it through home care, but only the ones who were very well tended and who weren’t hit hard to begin with.

    @Funny About Money: I believe this was the worst possible case – the husband had BEEN unemployed for a few months, she’d never held a job, and brought home a rescue pup with no vaccine history. Voila! Terrible circumstances.

    @Kyle: I remember you’d tweeted about your pup’s condition and I’m so glad that extra round of steroids did the trick. Surgery would have been tough on both of you between the cost and the recovery. Hope she stays healthy from here on out!

    @eemusings: I have a real problem with people giving up their pets if it’s an avoidable situation. Even in a natural disaster I would have a seriously difficult time abandoning my pets because they’re part of the family and dependent on me. But I know that there are times you have no other choice. In that case? Make sure you find them a good home! Your responsibility only ends when you make sure someone is caring for your former pet.

    @Money Funk: I should think so.

  13. Hmm that’s tough. What about insurance in the first place? I wonder why that puppy didn’t get its first shots int he first place?
    Pets can be very expensive and people dont realize the extra costs involved (my dog was on a $3 a day diet of raw ostrich, i really do know how much they can cost!! Lol).

Leave a Reply

CommentLuv badge

This website and its content are copyright of A Gai Shan Life  | © A Gai Shan Life 2017. All rights reserved.

Site design by 801red