What is HELP FIDO?

Humane Education Leads to Progress
For Informed Dog Owners

Vision Statement: We envision a society free from discrimination, where responsibility, education, love and compassion allow humans to fully respect and understand man's best friend.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Tough Times

These days everyone if having financial difficulties. Times are tough. The economic downturn is affecting so many and, naturally, the hardship has been trickling down to our furry friends. Veterinary bills for routine vaccinations and preventive care are hard enough to keep up with, but when our pets suffer from an unexpected illness or have an emergency situation things can really get rough financially. However, there are some organizations and programs that can offer assistance as well as some ways in which pet owners can plan ahead for emergencies.

Many organizations are non-profit and volunteer based. Some are smaller scale and specifically breed oriented and others are larger and nationwide such as American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA) or the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS). Almost all of these organizations are reporting a sharp increase in the number of requests for monetary assistance they have received in the last year, and as such, they do need unfortunately to turn some people away. But persistence pays off and contacting multiple organizations for help is always a good idea. Even if they can only offer a small amount, its good to know that help IS out there.

One way that pet owners can plan ahead for emergencies is to purchase veterinary pet insurance. There are many to choose from and I have written an earlier post that can help to decide how to go about the process. Paying the small monthly premiums can save a lot of money later on if disaster strikes. Another option is to keep a credit card on hand for pet emergencies or pet care expenses only.

Many veterinary offices and specialty/emergency practices offer Care Credit. It's a company that extends credit based on an individual application for veterinary care expenses. You can apply in person at the veterinary office or online at http://www.carecredit.com/. The company will let you know what type of credit amount you qualify for on the spot. Details can be explored on the website. This is a great option for emergency situations.

Many local humane societies, animal shelters or state/local veterinary societies also offer assistance programs and it's certainly worth the phone call to get the information. I suggest calling and obtaining the information before your pet is in a dire situation so that you know what your options are if an emergency should arise. Some of these organizations also offer low cost spay-neuter and vaccine clinics or other routine preventive medicine. In Central Ohio the Rascal Unit offers low cost spay/neuter services.

Please do not forget that many breed specific organizations are out there that may be able to offer financial assistance. Use your home computer or local library to locate and contact these resources for help if your dog is a specific breed or breed mix.

LAST BUT NOT LEAST- Always explore the option of asking your personal veterinarian for help. We are there to keep your pet healthy and more often than not your veterinarian will be willing to work with you. Ask if there is a way to set up a payment plan to break up larger bills into more manageable amounts. Also, most veterinary clinics/hospitals have a "Good Samaritan" fund or a similar fund set up for pets whose owners need financial assistance for emergency situations. Please also keep these funds in mind if you are financially stable and have a couple of extra pennies to donate. Your donation may help another pet who needs it...you never know when you may be on the other side of the coin someday!

Here is a list of some sources of assistance veterinary bills and other animal/pet care:

AAHA Helping Pets Fund - http://www.aahahelpingpets.org/ and www.aahahelpingpets.org/navta.html
Spay USA - www.spayusa/org/veterinarians/index.asp
United Animal Nations - www.uan.org/lifeline/resources.html
ASPCA - www.aspca.org/about-us/faq (look under "Financial help with my vet bills" under "Pet Care"
Humane Society of the US - www.hsus.org/pets/petcare
Help a Pet - http://www.help-a-pet.org/
Labrador Lifeline - www.labradorlifeline.org
IMOM (In Memory of Magic) - http://www.imom.org/
Care Credit - http://www.carecredit.com/
The Rascal Unit - www.rascalunit.org

That's all for now!! Good Luck to ALL!! Dr. Mandi....OUT!!

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