These days, it’s hard for some people to pay for the cost of treating their own health problems, and that economic truth is trickling down to their pets too. According to MSNBC, with so many people out of work, or struggling to keep their home, families are deciding to delay basic pet care or choosing less expensive treatments for their sick pets. In some extreme cases, owners are choosing to have an animal put to sleep rather than pay for emergency care – like fixing a broken leg – which can easily cost several thousand dollars! In the past year alone, Animal Control says there’s been a 20% spike in this so-called “economic euthanasia” and experts fear that more pets will be at risk as more families struggle with money.
What’s so heart-breaking about this trend is that a recent survey found that more than half of all people regard their pet as a member of the family! That’s why pet owners typically spend more than $20 billion each year on their pet’s vet care. However, these days, it’s harder than ever for owners to raise that kind of money. One popular solution has been to buy pet medical insurance. For a few dollars a month, insurance can help offset the high costs of emergency treatment for a pet. Of the 165 million cats, dogs and birds in North America, experts say less than 3% are covered by pet medical insurance.
Another option for paying vet bills is to apply for a loan through a company called Care Credit. Or to set up an online fundraiser through non-profits like the Helping Pets Fund or IMOM.org. Requests for assistance from these groups have tripled in recent months. In fact, executives from a non-profit called The Pet Fund say they’re getting more requests for help right now than they did during Hurricane Katrina! Nevertheless, if you’re having trouble paying your vet bills, contact the ASPCA and Humane Society, which can sometimes help in a pet medical emergency. If you do have money to spare and are looking to help others in need, you can donate to these sites and help pay for pet medical needs of others.