Tuesday, November 25, 2014

The High Cost of Pet Ownership

Saturday, Baby-Dog Woodrow ate a bar of soap for $140.75.  The bar of soap: 75 cents. The vet bill: $140. 

Our Woodrow is going to recover completely, perhaps because my soap is ninety-nine and forty-four one-hundredths percent pure.  (If you are over 60, you know what brand my soap is.)

Because of his Saturday indiscretion, Woodrow vomited three times on Sunday, so I fed him small amounts of rice and rice-water throughout the day. I skipped church to take care of him.  He slept most of the day, wanted me close.  I stayed on the bed with him for hours, whispering “I love you,” reading, and watching John Wayne movies. 

Although he woke me with lively kisses before dawn this morning, we were sitting in the vet office by 9:00.  
Woodrow’s Great Soap Escapade started me thinking (once again) about how much money adequate pet care costs.  And about how many people who have pets can’t afford to have them. 

While I was in the vet’s office, I overheard the receptionist talking to a potential client.  The woman had a voucher to have her dog spayed, and she wanted to know how much money she would have to pay the vet if she used it.  The voucher paid $45 for the spay surgery.  The owner would have to pay $20 for pain medication and $15-18 for something else (I couldn’t hear what).  The owner said that she didn’t want to pay for the pain medication or the required something else. 
The receptionist explained that the vet would not perform a spay surgery without pain medication. 

“Thank God,” I thought, having had a hysterectomy myself. 
Not only did I think about the cost of dog ownership at that moment, but I spent fifteen seconds wondering whether a lady who didn’t want to provide pain medication for her post-hysterectomy dog should even own a dog.

Please understand.  I personally know many people who dearly love their pets but who cannot afford their care.  I once knew a double-amputee military veteran who deeply loved his dog and almost died of a broken heart when she died. She died because he could not afford her monthly heartworm preventative.  Perhaps if I had known it before her death, I could have located a veterans’ organization who would have helped.  I hope she was waiting for him when he finally reached Heaven’s gates, and with his legs restored, he could run with her through sunlit meadows.
The truth is ugly, but people who want to adopt a pet need to understand that the cost of the adoption is only the tiniest tip of the iceberg of years of significant financial commitment.  Anyone who carries a credit card balance can’t afford a pet.  Breaks my heart because disposable income should not be a condition of giving and receiving the love of a dog.  Or a cat.  But caring for a pet is expensive. 

Love ought to be enough.  But it isn’t.

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