Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Wellness Plans, Savings Plans and Surprises. Why your vet NEEDS to be your best friend.

Me and  Loon,,
a cat brought in to be euthanized because she wasn't using the litter box.
Our resident cat for 7 pus years now, she reminds me everyday why I am here.
...and PS she has never missed the box since arriving,,

Yes, of course, love can cure everything!
Surprises are not welcomed in veterinary medicine. Surprises in veterinary medicine end up with big decisions, somewhat tenuous consequences and all too often unplanned big price tags. As a veterinarian I know the realities of these surprises all too well. I also know that many clients are not prepared for them. If your pet lives long enough it is almost inevitable that a surprise will find you because somewhere down the twists and turns of life you will be thrown a curve ball.
In the last month at Jarrettsville Vet we have seen our clients scrambling to find funds to manage the following surprises;
  1. Abdominal mass from a splenic tumor that needed emergency surgery ($1200).  
    This is Buddy. His whole belly is almost one splenic tumor.
  2. Jumping out of truck bed and breaking femur ($3000).
    Read Henry's story here.
  3.      Aute pancreatitis causing vomiting, anorexia, lethargy and painful abdomen ($1000). Required 6 days of iv fluids and hospitalization.
    Lilly gets her catheter to start her week of iv fluids
  4. Newly adopted shelter cat falls apart within one week of being at new home. Diarrhea, anorexia, respiratory infection, corresponding diagnostics and hospitalization for one week, including placing a feeding tube ($1500).

Cuddling with Minnie after placing her feeding tube.
One of the most important parts of being a veterinarian is to educate my clients. A world class veterinarian will provide their client with helpful advice so that most of the time they don’t need us. We will provide a well laid out plan for optimal health and longevity. In essence great vets are both excellent communicators, educators, and personally invested in your pets healthcare now and also a decade from now.

A worried patient awaits her knee surgery, $1500 at JVC.
Successful pet parenting is no small task. The planning for today's activities; the walking, feeding, providing exercise and mental health balance and trying to plan for the unknowns lurking somewhere down the road. Pets share almost every medical and emotional need that we pet parents do. Every possible ailment, disease, accident, injury and treatment option that the human medical options offer. It is not inconceivable for an average pet to cost over $10,000 in their lifetime. If there is cancer, organ failure, or complicated disease you can burn through that price tag in a few weeks.

The best advice that I can give you is to be prepared;
  • Get pet insurance. Hope you never need it, but being able to care for your pet when they need you most is worth the monthly payments. Know what the plans limits are, but, be prepared for those too.
  • Plan ahead. The advent of assigning typical pet visits into a yearly cost divided up into small payments was the ingenuously profitable brain child of corporate veterinary America meets budget conscious Americans who have difficulty saving for that someday rainy day. The success of these Wellness Plans has brought many private practice veterinarians into also trying to provide clients some basic wellness options broken into monthly fees and a contract.

I am a skeptic of Wellness Plans for a few reasons;
  1. Your pet is not a numbered entity cast by a cookie cutter. Every pet has individual needs. The way a typical wellness plan addresses a participant is as a “typical” case. For example, if you have a dog like my pit bull you will never need ear cytology. Never mind need it twice a year  which many plans provide. If you are however my beagle, you will need it four times a year and both knees fixed within 3 months of each other. My pit bull has cost me nothing more than food, vaccines, and preventatives. My adorable beagle, the farm.
  2. Contracts equate to consequences. You cannot get out of them easily. 
  3. Life has too many twists and turns. Sure every vet will advocate the importance of an ounce of prevention, and the incredible importance of examinations, diagnostics, preventive care, a good solid relationship built around the vet, the pet and you, BUT, disaster will not be covered by your wellness plan. Many of the heart wrenching cases revolve around a surprise disaster and most pet parents are simply not prepared financially for these. 
  4. Gimmicks. Wellness plans have gimmicks to influence and entice. What a pet parent wants is assurance that they will have options at affordable costs they can manage not a gimmick to influence a pet care decision.

Peanutty, Bella, and Pepper
all rescues and all a part of the JVC family.

If you are considering a wellness plan think about the following; 
  1. How invested is your vet in your pets care? A great vet will go to bat for your pet at every instance. You are not a cookie. Every step in your pets care has options. The best vets have you prepared for both the foreseeable and unplanned events. Sit down with your vet and draw up a plan for the year. List all foreseeable needs, goods, and services. Make a yearly budget based on these.
  2. What does the Wellness Plan entail? Break down the cost for each line item covered. For example; most plans provide preventatives (heartworm and flea & tick). But, they are calculated for the biggest size and most expensive preventative. Your chihuahuas year supply of heartworm prevention is about one quarter the cost of a St Bernard. Don’t pay for a giant when you have a portable peanut pup. Further, your peanut pup might not need both? 
  3. I know of clinics who “use up” your plans services, (for instance the two free ear cytologies), on your first two visits in the hopes you will need more down the road. The plan can set people up for being taken advantage of and you will never know it. 
  4. It is widely discussed in vet circles but not published that about 60%* of people will not take advantage of the wellness plan items they pay for. Whether it is fear of over anesthetizing your pet, inability to meet the calendar of available services, or lack of need? Wellness plans are sold to the client as a “convenience frequent-buyer program with small monthly payments, but they favor the vet practice. The game is always set up to protect the house.
Some pet insurance companies offer monthly payment plans to help offset routine care. I do not recommend these. Your money in someone else’s pocket leaves your decisions to others scrutiny. Do your best to be prepared for the routine stuff. If you think you want to purchase pet insurance look for those that just cover accidents and illness. These are the ones that will ruin you financially and lead to treatment plans that include “economic euthanasia.”

What’s the reality? Sadly, Americans are very bad at saving, planning, and preparedness for disaster. A monthly plan is a way to help defray some of the big financial hits at the vet, BUT, it will not help when surprises arise or disaster picks your number.

Have your own emergency fund
In my neck of the woods I recommend having three things;
  1. $2500 in your own pets savings account. I know it sounds like a huge amount. But at least have $1,000. Almost every savable emergency can be started on $1,000. 
  2. Have a credit card with room on it. Or, have available credit so you will be approved for CareCredit if needed. 
  3. Have a vet and their cell phone number in your back pocket. I cannot over emphasize how much heartbreak, money, and guilt ridden consequences this can cost you.
Me and my shadow, Wren
If you aren’t good at saving and don’t have a vet to go to bat for you, get an insurance plan for surprises and disasters AND start looking for a vet you trust at some point your chips will fall and you need to be prepared for that.

What’s my solution? Jarrettsville Veterinary Center now offers a Pet Savings Plan through Vet Billing Solutions. We will tailor a monthly savings plan for your pet and provide an affordable easy way to do this. What’s the catch? Nothing. Not one single thing! It’s your money to use for your pet whenever and wherever you need it! No catch. No gimmicks. No contracts. Just more happy endings!

Call us today and ask about it. Or find me trying to save the pet world anytime at

* Data from lectures at Idexx Management 2015 lectures on Wellness Plans.
In the end my veterinary practice is here to serve one purpose,,, help my community take better care of their companions. So, I am all ears. What can we do to help you do this? Please leave me a comment, or suggestion.

Related blogs;

If you have a veterinary, or pet, related question you can find me anytime on Pawbly is open to anyone who has a pet in need or experience that they would like to share.

Appointments for your pet assistance can be made by visiting me at Jarrettsville Veterinary Center in beautiful Harford County Maryland.

Or try me on Twitter @FreePetAdvice.

Friday, April 22, 2016

Canine Vestibular Disease. Veterinarian advice on the diagnosis,treatment, along with associated costs, and advice from mom.

There are clients and patients I hold very close to my heart. They are extensions of my family and their pets hard times are the instances for my purpose. I try to be there for my clients at every step and through every trip up. I will be the first to admit that at times I cannot dissect the line between caring too much and passionately fighting for them when life appears to be dealing yet another unfair hand. There is incredible injustice in the world, and it seems that the small, the meek and the voiceless always seem to pay the heftiest price.

Seems to be getting worse. This sticky situation I find myself in repeatedly. Frustrating and costing lives everyday. What do I think about it? I think it is unconscionable, and I am going to do everything I can to stop it. It is not that there isn't help available it is that this help is either out of financial ability or out of accessibility. Part of Pawbly's mission is to remove both.

Minnie and Murray, Christmas 2009
This is the story of Murray. A 13 year lab and his incurable textbook bought of idiopathic vestibular disease. It is also a tale of who you see and how this can influence how your pet is treated and thus how much it will cost you..

There are a few not uncommon diseases that pop up out of no where that can scare the be-jeezus out of you. One minute your dog seems perfectly normal and the next they are unable to stand, their eyes are going haywire, and you don't know what is going on or what to do about it.

One of the most common and least dangerous of these is idiopathic vestibular disease (IVD). It is also known as geriatric vestibular disease, old dog vestibular disease, or, idiopathic vestibular syndrome.

This disease can affect both dogs and cats. For sake of completeness this blog will only discuss canine idiopathic vestibular disease. Cats are more difficult to categorize and I believe IVD is far less common and often confused with other diseases.

IVD seems to come on like a freight train. You wake up, you walk into the next room and out of no where your dog cannot stand up, walk, hold its head straight, or stop the violent eye movements that look like a demon has taken possession. It is very scary for everyone. Sudden afflictions cause hysteria. My phone rings and my good friend is incoherently yelling/crying in fear. Like every dedicated pet parent my friend ran immediately to the closest emergency clinic.

Murray 24 hours post initial ER visit 
At our clinic I would have recommend that Murray have the following diagnostics done;

1. Physical examination, with special emphasis on the neurological exam and inner ear (otoscopic) exam. 

2. CBC, chemistry, thyroid panel. With this disease all should be normal.

3. Tick panel. I write this, but I am not opposed to skipping this if the history, lifestyle or environment doesn't coincide.

That boy and his smile... it says it all.

At my clinic this is a $230 ($50 exam, $130 blood work, $50 tick panel) work up. For clients with a tight budget I will reduce the clinical work up to an exam. Veterinary medicine is about using our skills, experience and working with your client to care for their pet. An exhaustive work up is great, if it is possible. BUT this is not a treatable disease. An owner needs to be to given all of the information, all of the options, associated costs, and prognosis for every possible diagnosis. In some cases we save our patients lives by being honest and not running any diagnostics. 

Murray has been a patient of mine for almost a decade. He had his annual exam, geriatric blood work, tick exposure panel and is current on all vaccines and preventatives. He is the model patient with the model parents.  He is a lucky happy boy, but this early morning Murray's eyes were going from side to side in a rapid motion (nystagmus), he couldn't stand, his head was twisted to the side, and he was obviously afraid. His mom reacted to his acute condition the way many of us would. She feared the worst and ran for help. Which is exactly how every parent should react. Unfortunately at the emergency clinic gave an estimate that included all of this;

Not knowing what to do my friend handed over a credit card and walked out the door. When she got to the parking lot she called me. I was concerned to hear that all of the diagnostics we had just run were repeated. I was also perplexed to hear that a 2 day stay was recommended. "This is not a 2 day fix, and at a few hundred dollars a day you are paying someone else to not be able to treat your pet. save yourself the money you don't need to spend."

The first 24-72 hours of this disease can be harrowing and discouraging. 

Most pets cannot stand, do not ambulate, have difficulty eating, or nausea associated with eating and for most clients the idea of this as status quo for days, months or years seem insurmountable and unacceptable. I spend a lot of time talking and reassuring that this state of dysfunction is normal and will pass.
My favorite harness for big dogs who need assistance.
I call it the 'suitcase harness'.

I asked Murray's mom to provide her side of his story.. I think it is incredibly helpful to provide a parents perspective..

Murray and mom.. head tilt (to the left) is obvious.

"So the story starts with ......... Early on a Friday morning Murray got up to go outside and stumbled a bit. He walked really fast out the door to the grass peed and quickly laid down.  I thought he was having a bad arthritis day.....struggling with his hips..... My assumption.  He came back into the house and went right back to bed.  

When fed breakfast he would not get up and kept looking at me with a tilted neck and would not eat and kept staring at the ground.  At about 7:15 he wanted to get up to go out and fell very hard into the wall and door frame.  It scared him and me so much he peed himself.  Then he was so upset he kept trying to get up and was frantic now and was foaming at the mouth.  I got to him as fast as a could and his eye brows and eyeballs were shaking very fast back and forth.  He could not focus or hold his head straight or walk.  I thought he was having a stroke or seizures since his legs were very flailing.  My regular vet clinic did not have a doctor in yet it was only 7:30 am so I rushed him to the emergency vet.  They quickly assessed him and gave him something to calm him down.  (Valium I assume).  They came in about 10 minutes later and gave us the rundown of $ deposit and time to watch over him.  They would draw blood and keep him comfortable.  We should go home and call back at noon to see how he is doing.  They had us sign a release form and they explained that it would cost between $781 and $1515.09 and that we would need to leave a $625 deposit to get started.  Of course we did it because we were so scared and worried for him.  
Upon leaving I consulted my dear veterinary friend she advised me that I could take care of Murray at home with her as support.  We brought him home that evening incurring a $551.80 bill.  We used a t-shirt on him so we could help him walk and hold him up straight.  

Day 2 severe head tilt and labored walking and acute eye shaking.  

Day 3 we got a suitcase harness with a handle on the back to help him walk.  

Day 4 still with a head tilt no eye shaking andwalking a tad better. 

Day 7 noticeably better gait.  

Day 12 less severe head tilt and almost normal walking.  

Day 20 only a barely noticeable head tilt.....he pulls away from us and does not want help walking.  From the start we had to acclimate to his changing needs.  We kept his bed in the center of the house and moved all the furniture to around the walls so he would have clear walking paths.  We had to barricade the stairs so we had the peace of mind that he could not fall down the stairs.  We put runner rugs from the door to his bed and to the food dish and water bowl so he would not have slipping issues.  We installed a carpeted ramp outside our house to get off the deck.  He struggles sometimes but he tries hard every day to keep his schedule and his normal routine."

Murray about 3 weeks post ER visit.
His head tilt is almost completely resolved.
Here is why Murray's diagnosis of IVD makes sense;
1. Murray is an older dog. This is a disease of predominantly older dogs.

2. Murray's signs evolved very quickly.

3. Murray fit the billet of IVD. He recently had a full senior blood work done, is current on preventatives, and up to date on all recommended vaccines. He was fit as a fiddle a month ago.

Here is my advice should you suddenly find your dog with a head tilt, nystagmus, unable to stand and ataxic (wobbly walk or stand). Head to the vet. After an examination ask the vet what their first rule out diagnosis is. If they say IVD discuss which diagnostics are needed and which you can afford. Go from there. I  have some difficulty justifying spending money on diagnostics for diseases that are both unlikely and not treatable. Talk about your pets work up and treatment plan. If possible ask your primary care veterinarian for their help before handing over the credit card.
And, of course,Stay calm, always stay calm.

After Murray went home he needed the following;
1. A safety harness to help ambulate. Murray is a big dog. A sturdy harness to help keep him from falling over. He also needed help to stand and go to the bathroom. 

2. He was prescribed an anti-nausea medication (available over the counter) and sent home to rest. If your dog is nauseous and vomiting talk to your vet about an injectable 24 hour anti-nausea medication. In severe cases fluid therapy can help.

3. Assist your pet at all times needed.

4. Block off stairs and keep doors to adjacent rooms closed.

5. Baby proof your house for a little while.

6. Frequent trips outside to urinate and defecate. Often IVD patients do not defecate for the first 24-48 hours.

7. Hand feed four times a day. Smaller more frequent meals with help maintain adequate caloric intake and decrease the nausea.

Most dogs take days to weeks to recover. Some always have a head tilt, but ambulation should steadily improve and resolve over days.

Minnie, Gannon, and Murray at their annual exam three years ago

If your pet needs immediate help please ask your vet first. They are your pets best source for the most accurate answers and help your pet needs. If you would like to learn more about this disease, how to care for your dog with this disease, or have a pet related question please join us at Pawbly is a free open platform to help educate, empower and inspire pet parents around the world.

If you would like to meet me or become a patient of ours please come visit me at Jarrettsville Veterinary Center in Jarrettsville Maryland. I will do my best to help... but be warned I get emotionally attached. I cannot help myself.

If you end up at the vets office and feel that you cannot afford the care your vet recommends please speak up. Ask for help. Stay calm, and get your pet out alive with you.

I am also on Twitter, yelling into the void.. @FreePetAdvice.

Be well everyone!

Saturday, April 9, 2016

Retained Testicles in a Canine. What to do and how much it will cost. Surgery photos included.

This is Diesel. He is a two year old Shiloh Shepherd who was just rescued by our good friends at Black Dogs and Company Rescue. He is truly handsome with that black face and mesmerizing eyes, but he has a secret; a hidden potentially deadly secret. 

Diesel and his Black Dogs and Co. rescue mom.

Diesel was purchased at 8 weeks old by his first family. They have had him for his whole two years. In that two years he has not been neutered and his testicles never descended into the scrotum. He is what we call a bilateral (both sides) cryptorchid.

When it comes to the old saying about "what you can't see.." well, it turns out it really can hurt you. Not having testicles in the place they belong,, well, that can kill you. 

Retained testicles are not common. In 10 years I have seen two large breed dogs have a complete failure to launch. In the first case the client just forgot to take heed to my warnings when I could not find his testicles at his puppy visits. He also refused to allow me to go searching for them in his dogs abdomen when he arrived for his neuter and they were no where to be found. We found them three years later when he was very sick and dying from massive amounts of cancer in his abdomen. The retained testicles had grown into large cancerous masses that had invaded every organ they were engulfing. Why does this condition have the potential to be so dangerous? Because testicles are intended to be carried around outside of the body where it is cooler. 

Let's talk about anatomy and normal male development;

Testicles are supposed to descend out of the abdomen within the first few months of life. 

Real-Life Tip; If they have not descended in to the scrotum by 5 months old it is very unlikely that they ever will. By 9 months old I recommend that my clients schedule their pets neuter and we palpate for them under sedation or anesthesia. Either way go find them and remove them! Don't sit back and think there isn't a problem because you cannot see it. There is a problem, don't wait for it to become one that costs your dog his life.

Real-Life Tip; All cryptorchid pets should be neutered. There is a genetic component to this condition and the retained testicles are very likely to become cancerous. Estimates are that this type of cancer is 13 times more likely than dogs whose testes are in the scrotum. In my opinion if they are retained in the abdomen THEY WILL BECOME CANCEROUS AND BY THE TIME YOU FIGURE THAT OUT IT WILL BE TOO LATE TO CHANGE YOUR DOGS PROGNOSIS. Most of these dogs will not be clinically affected by the retention of the testes until they are older than 2 years. Some of these dogs can also suffer from testicular torsion.  The cords that the teste descends from twist like a yo-yo on the end of a string, cause strangulation of the blood supply, swell and then begin to die. This is an acutely painful condition that requires immediate surgical intervention.

Diesel, like most pets with this condition, looks and acts completely normal. This is the biggest reason most people don't think that they need to intervene in this condition. It is a secret silent hidden killer. 

Diesel prepped for his neuter on the surgery table.
Head to the left, inguinal area shaved.
The black pigmented skin is the empty scrotal sac.

For all of the cases that I see like this I recommend that my clients allow me to place their pet under general anesthesia so I can palpate the entire area between the scrotum to the inguinal rings (the small opening in the bottom of the abdomen that is the passageway from  the abdomen to the scrotum) and along the distal part of the inguinal area. In some pets there is a pocket of fat just in front and along the sides of the base of the back legs. An undescended testicle is often smaller than normal and often buried in this fat pad. Often I cannot palpate these until the pet is completely relaxed (under anesthesia) and allows me to probe the area. 

The hunt begins..
I get lots of calls for estimates on these surgeries. I always tell people that in some cases these surgeries can be rather long and somewhat frustrating. If the testicles are not between the inguinal rings and the scrotum you have to go inside the abdomen and look for them. In the abdomen they can be  significantly smaller than normal and live anywhere between the kidney and the caudal (towards the tail) part of the abdomen/pelvis. In some cases I have felt like I am trying to find a needle in a haystack. 

I once had a cat with bilaterally retained testicles. It took me over an hour to find them. One of them was so small (about the size of a grain of rice) that I had to submit it to the pathologist to positively identify it.

The first testicle is about half the size it should be. 

Extra ligatures are needed on both sides of the testicle because it did not descend and does not hang at the bottom of its blood supply and muscles. 

Finding number testicle number two. Still smaller than normal and still needing extra care to remove.

In all Diesels surgery was not difficult. His testicles were easily found just inside the caudal abdomen. His surgery was about $400.

If you have a puppy, or unneutered dog that does not have descended testicles please talk to your vet about it. Please also discuss when it is best to neuter. If your vet can't give you an estimate that you are comfortable with seek a second opinion or ask for intra-operative photos with your invoice.

Diesel post-op.
He is on his way to a new home with a clean bill of health,
and a better chance at a longer happier and healthier life.

I thought it might be helpful if I included some photos of what a routine dog neuter looks like. As you can see Chief is a German Shepherd about 8 months old.

He obviously has two testes, each in their own scrotal sac, right where they belong.

Getting prepped for a routine neuter..

In most dog neuters in the USA the dog is placed on their back and the testes are advanced out of the scrotum and removed through a small incision just cranially (toward the head) of the scrotal sac.

The testes are removed from the scrotum. Chief's neuter is done.

The finished project. One small incision just cranial (in front of) the scrotum.

Ace. 6 month old cryptorchid feline. This is Ace.

The left testes is where it belongs.. the right is just slipping in and out of the inguinal ring. I was only able to palpate it when he was under general anesthesia.

Luckily for all of us I was able to advance the right testicle almost in to the scrotal sac. He had a near routine neuter. A cat neuter at my practice is $60.

One you get your fingers on a slippery elusive teste you hold tight. I did not want to have to open up Ace's abdomen to find this one. It is safer, easier, cheaper, and better if the neuter can be done by the scrotum. The little dot at my thumbnail is the penis. As you can see there is not much room to cut and manipulate on cats.

Prepped for a cryptorchid neuter on Ace. Interestingly the occurrence of testicular cancer in cats with retained testicles is much lower than dogs. But, these cats will still produce testosterone which produces stinky Tomcat urine, spraying and aggressive behavior.

A happy bunch of boys leave the clinic.

Take Home Points;
1. Neuter a cryptorchid by 8 months old.
2. Ask for an estimate before surgery. The most expensive cryptorchid surgeries are when the testicles are within the abdomen. An experienced veterinary surgeon should be able to find them quickly and easily in a young dog and most of these surgeries can be done relatively close to the routine neuter estimate. In  some rare cases we cannot find them at all. These cases must be monitored closely post-op. 
3. Older dogs with retained testicles are at a significantly increased chance of testicular cancers. An exploratory surgery should be done as quickly as possible to remove the testicles if they are not in the scrotum.

Pet questions can be asked for free if you visit Pawbly is an open online pet community dedicated to educating, empowering and inspiring pet parents around the globe. 

I can be found at Jarrettsville Vet in Jarrettsville Maryland for appointments, or visit us on Facebook

I am also on Twitter @FreePetAdvice.

Monday, April 4, 2016

Rescue Economics. When the Expense Costs You Your Ability To Care.


Lately I am finding myself questioning the grey lines between the black and white. The definitive Yes's and No's. The right and the wrong gets blurry and hard to decide. The more I see the more I try to tip-toe and spare all around me. It is not the life of bliss and skipping through fields of daisies. This is real-life death and despair, and shit, it sucks sometimes.

Not too long ago a fellow rescue friend vehemently argued with me that it was "excessive that a cat dental could cost $400." She refused to listen to all that goes into those dentals and how anesthesia, doctor time and expertise, and the degree of care and responsibility that we invest into them influences the clients final cost. She is a rescue volunteer who has helped hundreds of cats over many decades whom I respect but, I fear that her perception of the overwhelming need has diluted her recognition of what "ideal care" is. It isn't hard to get to this place when the assembly line of TNR's disfigures your ability to recognize optimal or acceptable and has replaced it with quick, cheap and processed. She also has never had to stand witness to the stress, fear, and deep anxiety that riddles every surgeon who has to be dentist, anesthesiologist, veterinarian and humanitarian. When you lose the individual in providing for the masses you are losing the trees for the forest..

Another uber rescue wizard Facebook friend posted this.. it reminded me once again about how much we have to do and how difficult it can be when there are bean counters in the ranks.

I am appalled by a private message I received by a "Facebook friend" about the little chihuahua family, Annie and her puppies from the Houston shelter in Texas I rescued.

I was first just going to ignore this message and un-friend her and not let it get to me since everyone is entitled to their own opinion. I am not even sure how she ended up as one of my friends if she doesn't have the passion of compassion for animals since I am pretty selective whose friend request I accept.

But my blood is boiling by what she said:

"Why would you spend so much money on these dogs in Texas where so many dogs in your area that need rescue? You could have saved 20 dogs for the amount you are wasting on these."
WASTING??????? I am WASTING money on rescuing dogs????

First of all, every penny I have spent and continue to spend in the rescue of a dog is never WASTED and very well INVESTED as every needful soul is worth saving. NO dog ever deserves to be in a shelter confused why they are there and why their life would be at jeopardy and could end at any given moment.

This little family had no control over their situation that ended them up there, nor had they control over being sick and miserable. They didn't ask to be there, trust me.
We put them there! Ignorant people who won't get their dogs fixed and turn the blind eye to the neighbor who breeds dogs in their back yard. If everyone would spay and neuter their dogs and take responsibility, this little family wouldn't have ended up there.

Spaying and neutering makes a big difference: Just one unaltered female dog and her offspring can produce 67,000 puppies in only six years. In seven years, one female cat and her offspring can produce an incredible 370,000 kittens! 8 Million dogs and cats enter shelters in the U.S. each year. More than 1/2 won't make it out alive.

I can't save them all, but I made a difference in the life of little Annie and her puppies. I can only focus on the "Starfish Story" and keep saving one at a time.

My dear Facebook friend: "You tell this little family they are NOT WORTH saving by WASTING money on them." I can't. I will do everything and anything to save them, with much blood, sweat and so many tears, and every Dollar that is needed.

I am not going to unfriend you with the hopes that you will follow their rescue journey and see the joy and pride they give me, and everyone involved with their rescue, and everyone who supports animal rescue and enjoys following these precious souls. And the love and joy they will give and receive by the families who will adopt them is the biggest reward. That to me is PRICELESS and that is why I continue what I do!!!!!!

As we always say in rescue, "we have lost our minds but found our souls" but I wouldn't have it any other way.
heart emoticon

Annie and her puppies

No one can argue that there is a forest of need and a million trees being overlooked. But, God, don't let me finish this journey not seeing those eyes, that warm nose, giving that little soul a hug and telling them how much they are loved. 

This is Paisely. She was surrendered with her sisters at the local shelter. She was not spayed, she was kept in a cage, and sent to us as a last ditch effort to help her presumptive rare medical condition. After three vets, vaccines, anesthesia, and one misfortune after another she was found to be pregnant. She is the epitome of the faces of our broken humanity. The overlooked, minimized, and disposed of. She is now with a foster mom who loves her and will be there for her. She is the forest and the trees and all of the faces that compassion beholds.

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I can also be found in the vet hospital, mostly kissing pets. Meet me anytime at Jarrettsville Vet in Jarrettsville Maryland, I am also on Twitter @FreePetAdvice.