It is always good advice, and in fact one of the core responsibilities of pet ownership, that you should make sure before you get a pet of any kind that you can take care of them and can afford to pay for everything that they need for the entire duration of their lives. However, with the best will in the world, sometimes even the most conscientious of pet owners will fall victim to fate; redundancy, loss of their job, ill health causing them to be unable to work, or finding out that a condition that is diagnosed in their pet is not covered by their insurance policy. If you find yourself in the position of needing veterinary treatment for your pet but are unable to pay or struggling to cover the costs, what can you do? Is there any help available, and what happens if your pet is in pain or suffering, and you simply don’t have the funds to get them treated? Read on for some advice.
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Be a responsible pet owner from the beginning
For the pet owner who is faced with a sick or suffering animal and no means of paying for their treatment, being told ‘you shouldn’t have got into this position in the first place, you are irresponsible’ is probably the most unhelpful and un-empathic thing they can hear. However, it would be remiss of us not to mention in the first instance that you simply should not get a pet to begin with if you do not reasonably expect that you can take care of them and pay for any treatment that they might need. You should not get a pet with the expectation that you will be able to get financial help or be able to rely on any third party to help you to pay; the responsibility to pay for your pet’s treatment falls on your shoulders, and yours alone. Even if you are on a low income, and perhaps especially so, go to www.pets4homes.co.uk/pets4home... and paying a monthly premium can help to cover the costs of any emergency; as can making a regular payment into a layaway scheme with your local vet, to offset the cost of future treatments.
Getting help in an emergency
If your pet suddenly becomes very sick or gets seriously injured and you simply do not have the money to pay for veterinary treatment on the spot, you must take your animal to the vets anyway. Veterinary surgeons are obliged, as part of their RCVS registration and the pledges that they made upon training and qualifying to become a vet, to provide emergency treatment to a minimum level that will ease pain and suffering. This may mean administering treatment to a very basic level for a short period until an alternative can be decided upon, or by euthanizing a seriously injured animal that is suffering without respite. You should always be upfront and honest with your veterinary surgeon about your ability to pay for your pet’s treatment. Veterinary surgeons are animal lovers, but they are not charities, and they are only obliged to provide basic, short-term care for a suffering pet, not to bankroll ongoing treatments. If you are honest with your vet in times of need, you may well find that they are more than willing to work out a budget and repayment scheme with you for extended treatment, or be able to point you in the direction of charities and organisations that can help to fund the needed treatments.
Charities that may help to cover the cost of veterinary care
There are several national organisations that provide support and funding or veterinary help to pet owners in genuine financial difficulties, and often various small independent local operations as well. Most charities have very firmly set criteria as to their eligibility process, who they can help and to what extent, and some of them will require you to register your pet as part of their scheme before treatment is required. Few charities will provide financial support for foreseen and preventative costs, such as vaccinations, but some will assist people on low incomes to help to pay for spaying and neutering.