Veterinary costs put pets in harm’s way


Heather Gann, Staff Columnist

Last week, I began to notice a change in my cat, Dot. While she is usually a food fiend and full of energy, she seemed lethargic and had a severe loss of appetite. I observed her for a few days, but when she wouldn’t touch her favorite treats on Saturday morning, I knew something was seriously wrong.

So out into the monsoon I went, desperately trying to make it to the vet’s office before they closed. There is only one 24-hour veterinary office in Tuscaloosa, EmergiPet, and it costs $95 just for them to see your pet. This is before any treatment has been given, which, of course, would cost even more. Comparatively, the cost for a visit to a regular vet’s office runs around $30, plus the cost of treatment.

This put me into quite a dilemma, because if the vet decided that my pet needed additional care or monitoring over the weekend, none of the offices, except for EmergiPet, would be able to watch her. As a college student, I did not have the money to spend on a trip to EmergiPet, so I had to risk her health declining over the weekend and had to deal with the stress of driving a sick cat through the rain to get to the vet’s office 20 minutes before they closed. I made it there and was immediately confronted by a large sign that read “PAYMENT FOR ALL CARE MUST BE GIVEN AT THE TIME OF TREATMENT.” 

In addition to my anxiety for my furry friend, I am now panicking about the vet bill and how to pay it before I leave. Dot and I go back for her checkup, and the news is not great. My cat is in liver failure. The vet begins to rattle off options, starting with the most expensive ways to treat: sending her to Mississippi State for treatment or sending her to an emergency surgery to place a feeding tube to try and reverse her disease. These options run anywhere from $500 to upwards of $3,000. 

I begin to panic, and all I can think is that my pet is going to die because I don’t have the money to spend on her. Seeing my concern, the vet does offer a cheaper option: home treatment. For the next month, I must syringe-feed and give my cat oral medication multiple times a day. Even with this treatment, she may not recover. The cost at the vet’s office still ended up being over $100, which I fortunately had, but that night I couldn’t help but wonder what I would have done if I hadn’t had the money for her medicine, as I know so many wouldn’t.

I would simply have to sit at home and watch my best friend in the world suffer. And for what? Even now, I know she isn’t receiving the best care she could because I can’t finance an expensive medical procedure. We as people cannot be denied treatment if we are dying ⎼ even if we don’t have a cent. We are also offered all sorts of fully covered insurance policies at a monthly price. We say that pets are members of our family, so we should treat them as such when it comes to their health.