dvm360 readers: How would you answer this pet owner?

December 18, 2017

This veterinary client longs to provide care for her pets, but her financial circumstances have taken a turn for the worse. What would your advice to her be?

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Editor's note:We at dvm360 recently received this heartfelt plea from a pet owner who finds herself in the midst of difficult financial circumstances and is agonizing about what to do about her beloved pets. We are not the experts here-you are! How would you as veterinary professionals advise this individual if she were your client? Leave a comment in the comments section below (must be registered) or email dvmnews@ubm.com.

I'm writing tonight because I have a difficult question, one that unfortunately applies to many of us pet owners today. I've always understood that pets are a luxury, that they need proper care, and that they are a lifelong commitment. And I've always been fortunate enough to be able to provide for my pets and even spoil them. Then things changed.

Through no fault of my own, my financial situation changed drastically almost overnight. Now I no longer have the money to care for them as I used to, and this new situation is not likely to improve; I am disabled and unable to work. But when I got my pets years ago, I had no way of knowing that my life and finances would take such a blow.

I have used the same veterinary practice for 30 years. I have always been a good client, and the practice has always been good to me and my furkids. Now, however, I can no longer afford even routine checkups and vaccines-let alone the dreaded emergency. I know this isn't fair to the pets I adore. But how do I explain all this to, for example, my sweet 12-year-old cat with hyperthyroidism? Or my 5-year-old rescue dog with allergies?

How do I find new, loving homes for my chronically ill animals who've known no other home but mine? Even if I could ignore my lifetime commitment to them and their care, older pets with problems simply are not being widely sought by anyone-except the unexpectedly poor family who loves them. As you know, even young, healthy pets are turned in to shelters and euthanized every day.

I've always maintained that if you cannot afford to properly care for a pet, then taking one in is both selfish and cruel. So what do I, and thousands like me, do when we find ourselves in this position?

Had I a young child and suddenly become “financially disabled,” there would be many resources out there to assist. Is there anything out there for our furkids, who also deserve the best we can give them? This is haunting me, and I so want to do what's best for these innocent creatures who've placed their trust in me. Is there an answer?

Thank you.

-MJ Falango

DeLand, Florida