C.C., the neighborhood stray that people and other cats love to love, had been limping for several days when I noticed he also had a gash on his side. Clearly, it required medical care. A neighbor offered to take him to her vet, and we were both almost stunned into silence when she called to say the vet wanted to charge $900 to $1,500 for surgery. And that’s for a cat that isn’t even ours.
Because my friend is involved with an animal rights organization, we decided to work the phones and emails instead to see what other options we could find. Within minutes, the director of a low-cost spay/neuter clinic was telling me to bring the cat in for care. Who would have thought a place well-known in town for its spay/neuter program also provided emergency medical treatment?
C.C.’s back now, recuperating in my garage, and the whole shebang — wound care, neutering and basic shots — cost less than $200!
It was a stressful, but powerful, lesson to learn. In a time when so many people are stretched thin paying for basic necessities, they don’t have to skimp on pet care — even in case of emergencies.
Alternatives do exist. While it may take some time surfing the Internet to find a low-cost location, or standing in line waiting for services, in many communities you can find reasonably priced spay/neuter programs, low-cost shot clinics, and even reduced price veterinary care.
Periodically I’ve seen signs outside a major chain drug store and a grocery store in my neighborhood advertising low-cost pet vaccinations on certain weekends. And on occasion, the local Humane Society offers free shots for the first 1,000 pets on a particular day.
While those free days draw throngs, there are other means of low-cost care that don’t even require standing in line. A couple of months ago I made an appointment and took a stray mama cat and her little son to the local Humane Society. Getting both of them fixed and the shots they needed was only $170 for the pair.
For most of us, our pets are part of our family, and just like us they need routine medical care, as well as vaccinations for protection against diseases. But that doesn’t mean you need to go into debt to finance that care.
Instead, you’re better off investing your time in ferreting out your options before an emergency arises or Max and Mittens need their next annual exams.