Saturday, October 29, 2016

Affordable Options Are Everyone's Right.

Harford County Humane Society surrender

For a huge part of the pet owning population the ability to find affordable care for many aspects of their pets health is unattainable. Many cannot afford to make good routine nutritional choices, attain routine veterinary care, provide little to no vaccines or preventatives, and even more cannot begin to find affordable options for complex disease(s) or emergency care. The size of the chasm of need increases significantly for people as the small choices for basic care grow into more complicated health concerns.

The reality of the intensive side of veterinary pet care, and by that I mean; emergencies, life threatening disease or conditions, or pet care that requires specialists, referrals or hospitalization, is that if you have deep pockets you can, and will, get state of the art unimaginable high quality specialized care. The state of veterinary medicine is at the point where amazing things are possible when clients have access to immediate funds.

In the real-world of this small animal general practitioner there are too many cases where the degree of assistance and the altering of prognosis with the likelihood of cure is directly proportional to the power to pay immediately.

Let me explain. Many difficult cases require more than one vet visit and more information than our eyes, ears and nose can identify at the initial visit. Running tests and making repeat visits to the vets office are needed to find the critical clues that help lead to the answers your pet needs to provide optimal care and prognosis. These can be expensive. As the wallet shrinks these key critical pieces for a best case outcome scenario fade.

In some cases I cannot even get close to a diagnosis. Without at least $500 I often can't get a narrowed down list of possible rule-outs to allow focused effective meaningful care. Seasoned trained well established vets dole out a boat load of convincing "educated guesses" when we are presented with pets who need answers and pet parents who don't or can't pursue diagnostics. It is sad and true that huge numbers of fates are decided on "guesses" educated or otherwise.

Even in the few cases that I can almost 100% definitively diagnose for less than $100 or $200 dollars, let's say for example DKA, fractures, blocked cat, obstructions, pyometra, GDV,  IVDD, neuromuscular disease, toxins, cancer, behavior cases, (the list is endless), I cannot provide cheap AND prognostically favorable answers for less than $500 (plus). It is always a dance of managing expectations, resources, and open honest communication, and always, always, trying to figure out a way to keep a pet in a home and happy on all sides. It is why so many vets learn to walk away indifferent.

I believe that vets are an integral part of a pets quality of life. We are their advocate for all facets of their care. Why then is it that we shirk away from guidance when there are financial constraints? How on earth can denying affordable options help maintain our credibility and integrity? If there is a pet care problem there are ALWAYS options. There are even affordable options. Perhaps they are not attainable under our roof but shouldn't we be obligated to provide them regardless? Is withholding affordable options a part of who we want to be? My clinic provides clients in need with resources of low cost spay/neuter clinics, vaccine clinics, surgical facilities and trainers, even though  we provide all of these services under our roof. Why do we do this? Because ultimately our patients shouldn't have to pay for our inabilities (vet AND parent included).

Our most recent endeavor is to curb the need for shelter surrenders of our patients.

Undoubtedly there are many sides to the problem of why people surrender to shelters. There are many sides that I cannot help. Of them I cannot convince a pet parent to love their pet. I cannot build a bond between a person who doesn't want to make a place in their heart or family to care about them. I cannot convince someone to not be evicted, or not rent an apartment that won't take pets, etc. BUT, I can help in behavior and health care issues that might cause some loving pet parent to consider surrender, abandonment or economic euthanasia because the cost of care is too great.'s  Top 10 Reasons for Relinquishment*
  1. Moving (7%)
  2. Landlord not allowing pet (6%)
  3. Too many animals in household (4%)
  4. Cost of pet maintenance (5%)
  5. Owner having personal problems (4%)
  6. Inadequate facilities (4%)
  7. No homes available for litter mates (3%)
  8. Having no time for pet (4%)
  9. Pet illness(es) (4%)
  10. Biting (3%)
  1. Moving (8%)
  2. Landlord not allowing pet (6%)
  3. Too many animals in household (11%)
  4. Cost of pet maintenance (6%)
  5. Owner having personal problems (4%)
  6. Inadequate facilities (2%)
  7. No homes available for litter mates (6%)
  8. Allergies in family (8%)
  9. House soiling (5%)
  10. Incompatibility with other pets (2%)

Jarrettsville Veterinary Center can help with some of these. Here is what we are doing to help the pets in our community;
  • Providing shelter for pets from excessive heat or cold for free. 
  • Providing payment options when care is denied elsewhere. 
  • Providing care when euthanasia is the only affordable options given, or, even taking surrendered pets when our clients pass away. 
We will do it. We can help and we will. Coming soon we will offer a pet food pantry and Pet Savings Plan to help our clients prepare for the rainy days every pet will at some point face.

This is our latest offer of assistance;

Dear Local Shelters/Rescues,

At Jarrettsville Veterinary Center we have a deep desire to help animals in need.  We want to be part of the solution in keeping pets out of shelters.  According to the ASPCA approximately 7.6 million animals enter shelters nationwide every year.  This number is shocking and we would like to do something to help with the problem in our community.  We are reaching out to the shelters and rescues in our area and asking for your cooperation.  When a pet is surrendered due to the owner’s inability to pay for the pet’s veterinary care we ask that you ask one additional question.  Please ask who their veterinarian is.  If Jarrettsville Veterinary Center is mentioned or listed on a vaccine history as the center where the pet received care please contact us at 410-692-6171 and ask to speak to Jennifer Taylor.  We would like to see what we can do to assist the owner and their pet.

Thank you so much for your cooperation in this matter, as a team we hope to help our patients who may find themselves in unfortunate circumstances.

Warm regards,
The staff of JVC

This is Heather. She was surrendered by her family to our local shelter. She is 3 1/2 years old and has not been treated for her diabetes diagnosed over a year ago. She was very, very sick from her neglected diabetes. Without immediate care she would have likely died within a few days. She was 113 pounds at arrival. This is almost 30 pounds more than she should be. If it weren't for the shelter staff calling us and our ability to help her she would have been euthanized. Somewhere someone failed her. This disease is avoidable and treatable. A lot could have been done for her to keep her from being surrendered. She needed to be given dietary options. Affordable, over the counter, options. She needed to be shown to how to be treated for diabetes. Affordably. She needed more than her family could provide. She is one of those pets in our community we are responsible for. We owe her more than she has been given and we will help her find her second chance at a new and healthier life.

Our goal is to offer options to help people so surrender or economic euthanasia isn't a needed option. Pawbly and Jarrettsville Vet are here for this purpose. We hope that you will join us in helping pets in your community. Education and options are often all that are needed to change and better the lives of those in our communities.

More on Heather soon.

If you would like to help a pet please join us at Jarrettsville Vet for one of our fundraisers, like Pets With Santa. Always the first Sunday in December. Or visit us on our Facebook page. You can ask me questions about your pet on It is free to use and open to anyone. I am also on Twitter @FreePetAdvice and YouTube.

Coot, our resident clinic cat, and I steal a snuggle selfie

Related Blogs;

What Are You Building? Leadership in a Compassion Based Clinic.

Medical bill madness: what if human medicine was like veterinary medicine?

Economic Euthanasia.

Veterinary Rescue Shaming and The Frank-Starling Law.

Rescue Economics. When The Expense Costs You Your Ability to Care.

Wellness Plans, Savings Plans, and Surprises.

Jarrettsville Veterinary Center Protocol for Clients with Financial Constraints.

Compassion Fatigue. When the candle you are burning at both ends consumes you.

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