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Don’t Tell Me You Cannot Afford Vet Care After You Spend $3000 on a Pure Breed Pet

I recently have written about how pet ownership should not be a privilege of the well off and wealthy.  In my previous most recent blog post, I also wrote about costs of veterinary care seemingly being poised to outpace general inflation and wage increases of the average pet owner, along with precautions pet owners must engage in if they are to deal with this new reality of pet health care.  However, it is hard for me to have sympathy for a person who goes out and spends $3000 on a pure breed pet, then cries to me that they have no money to afford even basic health care for the animal.

The most troubling aspect of this all too common scenario is that the breeds that people tend to sink the most money into are the ones that have the most health problems.  In dogs, it is Boxers, Sharpeis, German Shepherds, and English Bull Dogs to name a few.  In cats, it is Persians, Himalayans, Siamese and Ragdolls to name a few.  These and other pure breeds often cost the owner a small fortune and carry the most unwanted disease predisposing genetic baggage.

Of course, when these pets ultimately get sick, partly because of their genetic predisposition to disease, partly because after the expensive purchase of the animal the owners have no money left to provide even basic well care for the pet; guess who they ask for a discount, free care, or payment plans to provide treatment?  Then after I refuse, suddenly I am the bad guy in their minds for not working for free or refusing to set up a payment plan that I know I will never collect…been there, done that too many times to know how things turn out.  That’s right; I end up somehow being the cause for the dilemma created by their bad decisions.

But although my clinic had to do away with billing plans as our accounts receivable started reaching astronomical proportions, we do offer interest free payment plans from third party medical lenders like Care Credit that people with even fair credit worthiness can get approved for, as well as accept all major credit cards.  But of course, all too often, these people that were bent on spending $3000 on a pet, not only have no money to pay for vet bills, but they also have no credit worthiness for any kind of medical lending plans.

So please put this in perspective.  A person has very little money, poor to non-existent credit, yet spends $3000 on a pure breed pet that is likely to have more health problems than the average pet.  Really?

Now, I will still maintain that pet ownership should not only be a privilege of the well off and wealthy, but people also have to be accountable to make financially sound and common sense decisions.  Want a pet?  No problem.  Go to the local shelter where they are giving them away for a nominal adoption fee, complete with parasite and heartworm screening, full complement of vaccines, and spay/neuter.  Still bent on a pure breed pet?  Be patient, they come through shelters all the time, or one can easily find a pure breed rescue online or through local retail pet stores and veterinarians that engage in work for these organizations (my hospital works with Italian Greyhound, Scottish Terrier, German Shepherd, and Labrador Retriever rescues, as well as a host of feline rescues).

If you know or are related to people like this that are talking of buying expensive pure breed animals with money they don’t have, nor have the means to properly care for them, please, talk some sense into them.  Spread this post as far and wide as you can, share it with others, shout it from the roof tops.  While it may be hard to believe, this story lines occurs day in and day out, and those of us with better sense than that must do our best to guide those that do not.

Dr. Roger Welton is the President of Maybeck Animal Hospital and CEO/Chief Editor of the veterinary information and blog online community, Web-DVM.

7 thoughts on “Don’t Tell Me You Cannot Afford Vet Care After You Spend $3000 on a Pure Breed Pet

  1. jane says:

    I RESCUED a pure bred pug. No papers, neutered, and paid the standard fee from a shelter. I got him to keep me company after my youngest child left for college and he has done an amazing job.

    When I got him he had broken ribs and teeth from being struck or kicked. He has psychological issues that may never heal. He has a seizure disorder that requires daily medication.

    Vets see me walk into their office and assume that i have hundreds to spend on vet care because Im carrying a pure bred dog. My dog has basic shots and preventative care, and a prescription that costs more every month than I spend on food for myself. I make less than 1500 per month before taxes.

    Veterinarians like you make my blood boil. I adopted my dog, just like any mutt. Im poor and i put my dog before myself. I finally found a vet that will let me make payments. Im good for the money every week and my dog doesnt have to suffer because of some jerk like you.

    I walked to the library to find online vet advice because my dog has diarrhea and my vet is closed until Tuesday. Your commentary came up third. You should be ashamed of yourself. Animals are like children. Completely dependent on their parents to care for them. if you were looking at a sick child would you refuse care according to the lifestyle of the parent? Shame on you.

    • Dr. Roger says:

      I am having trouble seeing how you are angry with me. My commentary was with regard to people who frivolously spend a fortune on an expensive breed of dog known to require major veterinary care in the course of their lives, with money they don’t have; then cannot afford the veterinary care necessary to properly care for the dog. Such action is akin to going out an buying a Mercedes that you cannot afford in the first place, and most certainly cannot afford the upkeep on…would it not make more sense for a person of limited income to buy a fuel efficient Hyundai with lower maintenance costs? Likewise, a person of limited income should not be spending $3000 on a dog that will likely require $10,000 – $15,000 to keep it healthy. Instead, a person wanting a dog as a companion should get the Hyundai canine equivalent…a mutt from the pound that comes spayed/neutered, fully vaccinated, heartworm screened, and parasite treated….all for about $60. With the genetic variation that comes from mixed breeding, most mutts are much healthier and therefore less cost to maintain their health.

      For your situation and that of others that rescue troubled, injured, or sick dogs, I am happy to work with them, either through payments or even having a lot of the costs of care covered by a not for profit organization my hospital has set up that raises revenue through candy machine sales and private donations.

      I would suggest you take a moment to re-read my post and understand that it is not a general commentary on every person in the world having trouble affording veterinary care…it is about people not taking the time to think through a very important decision to buy an expensive animals known to come with expensive health care, knowing that they do not have the means to even afford the high cost of the animal, let alone its life long health care. It is about taking personal responsibility for one’s own actions, and as in every other aspect in life, living within one’s means as in all other aspect so of life. Having a furry companion that costs $60 from the pound and will likely be by in large healthy throughout is life is just as fulfilling as having an English Bulldog that will cost $3000 to buy, plus a fortune in its lifetime health care due to recessive inherited disease.

      You really took my post out of context and unfairly demonized me in the process.

  2. JustMe says:

    I agree about paying such a enormous amount for a pet then not having money for pet care makes no sense! But for so many people they have animals they paid very little for and finding a caring vet in the time of emergencies is all too difficult!

    I think any vet that would refuse medical care in emergencies to any pet should be ashamed of their self. Anyone that really cares about animals or wildlife of any kind would never turn away a fur kid or feathered kid in need. Vets and doctors totally deserve the pay they get and should get it from those that have it but pets do not deserve to be left to die because owners don’t have the money.

    We had a dog that had kidney failure and after paying all the costs for the blood work, physical, to get the diagnosis they would do no more without ALL the money upfront and the time it took us to find a caring vet we feel made our dog worse and even though she lived almost a year after that we feel she would had lived even longer if she had been treated immediately! The vet we found was so wonderful even took our dog home with her on critical care.

    Now, our health is too bad for us to travel there and we saved a Cockatiel after it almost got ran over and then my husband rescued it from another bird trying to attack her! But not before she spent the night in our yard in one of our trees before it came down where my husband could get her after several painful bites. Of course we understood the bird was stressed and did not know my husband was only trying to help but no telling how long it was outside or what might be wrong and we can not find a vet that cares enough to check this bird out without charging us. Our income is low but when the bird needed help we did not stop to think about the expenses we just helped her and seems like vets would do the same!

    If we lost a pet we would be calling everyone in the area trying to find it but after we called all the area vets, the sheriff’s dept and others no one reported losing this bird 🙁 Makes us believe they just did not care about her at all. But because of what the bird went through we are being very particular on trying to find her a good home.

  3. Vetechgirl says:

    I really don’t understand people expecting payment plans or vets to discount care. The truth is that vets don’t make that much money in the first place. Vet offices aren’t hugely profitable, and almost all vets go into the profession because they love animals. There are credit companies that can give credit lines specifically for vet care if you cannot afford to pay a fee upfront. My adopted Lab developed tear duct cancer last year and needed nearly 4k in care/surgery. I’m not “poor” but I don’t have 4k lying around. I had to figure something out. I applied for care credit and made payments. I’m so sick of people villianizing vets because they don’t give them free or discounted services. I can tell you they have heard every story genuine or not, and they wish they could help everyone, but they have to make a living as well.

  4. dee says:

    I have a cat that is 15 years old. She was a stray and after her kittens were born on my wife’s wedding dress we had her fixed. (she was pregnant when we took her in.) She has been an annoyance for a decade and half. But we still love her. But not enough to pay for expensive kidney medicines. She is going to die soon and looks like hell. She might live another couple of years if I took her to the vet. I will not. She’s lived 14 years longer than she should have. Good and loved years. The kids will be heart broken. I might even shed a small tear. And we’ll bury her in a box in the garden to fertilize my tomatoes next spring or the spring after that depending on when she goes. If I ever spend $3000 on a pet, I’d be an idiot.. But if I did, I’d probably spend a few bucks to keep them going a little longer. But, in my opinion we’ve gone from animal husbandry to satanic pet worship in a few generations. Care for them, yes.. Pay for hip replacement surgery? Hell NO!

  5. TheCaptain says:

    I really don’t think these vets care about animals at all they are just into it for the money.
    We have had English Bulldogs for over 10 years and just purchased a new pup after our 11 year old baby passed on. We have always taken extremely great care of our babies they are our children. But with this new pup we have had him in for all his check ups and necessary vaccinations(as we always do). And have gotten our care credit card up there in the process. Our new little guy has had a small spill and now needs a Right Tibial Crest Avulsion surgery and the 2 surgeons that can do this surgery will not take a down payment and weekly payments to cover the 2000-5000 surgery.
    We have no problem covering this cost. But they will not even speak to us unless we have the monies up front.
    I realize that people have promised to pay and have not in the past it has happened everywhere.
    But to turn your nose up and let a perfectly healthy little guy lose the use of his leg because they dont have cash up front is absolutely disgusting in my opinion. To me it seems like a form of animal abuse. We are good people who love our pets as if they were human kids and this ordeal infuriates me to no end.
    I hope no one else has to go through what we are going through with these non caring veterinaries

    • Dr. Roger says:

      Captain, I am sorry for your circumstances, but your blanket statement that veterinarians are in our line of work for the money is not fair. If money was our primary objective, every one of us could have had a much easier time getting into medical school and as MD’s making 3-4 times what we earn as veterinarians. Yet, despite the fact that we accept much lower earnings for our expertise which includes working with patients that cannot verbally tell us anything about how they feel, we still carry the same student loan burdens that not uncommonly are in the hundreds of thousands.

      Let us look at this from a business perspective. The most efficiently run practices – which is the minority of practices because we are not taught business in vet school – run at about 20% profitability. That translates into 80 cents of every $1 of revenue goes spent on taxes, labor, facility costs, equipment, inspections, OSHA compliance…I could go on and on here. If you throw a significant accounts receivable in that mix, it is a recipe for financial disaster for a business. And while you may make good on your payments as an honest and conscientious person, for every two of your, there are 8 that will not.

      Thankfully, many practices (mine included) offer third party financing plans, primarily through Care Credit. They are not only very lenient with regard to credit score because it is medical lending, for bills exceeding $1000, they offer one year interest free financing…so there is your payment plan. If I were you, I would call those surgeons back and ask them if they take Care Credit and if not, find one that does. As you are judging these surgeons in their refusal to perform the procedure without payment in full, the amount of money that it costs them to perform the procedure with equipment, staffing, operating room time, equipment packs, etc; based on your estimate is $1600 – $4000. In that context, by asking them hold a receivable to give you a payment plan, you are essentially asking them to lend you money.

      I sincerely hope you can get the surgery your beloved dog needs done ASAP.

      All the best,

      Dr. Roger

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