We all know the story.. It’s 2 am and you and your pet are at the ER. The estimate for the care the vet tells you is needed is beyond your ability to pay, and payment for the deposit is required before services are provided. You and your pet, need options.
You are stuck. Your pet is in dire need of help. And, there aren’t other options available until 6 hours from now,,, and you don’t know if your pet can afford to wait 6 more hours.
The options provided to you look something like this;
Option A, “the recommended” plan is $3,000 plus. It’s 2 am and your credit card doesn’t have that much cash on hand, the bank machine will only spit out $200, and you aren’t approved for CareCredit. Who outside of a loan shark has that much cash at 2 am? Option A is not an option.
Option B, “medical management” at a fraction of the cost of Option A, and an explanation that this option sounds dismal and disheartening.
Option C, “do nothing”. If you wanted to do nothing you would be sleeping.
Option D, “euthanize”. The words make you recoil in anger and abhorrence. WHAT??!! Why would anyone consider this an option? Am I leaving my pet to suffer if I cannot come up with $3,000 right now? What are the odds my pet will survive if I do spend $3,000? What if they need anything past the $3,000 I already don’t have?
The self doubt, dismay, defeating, shameful, and bleak reality of 2 am and not knowing what the heck the vet is saying, and what the heck to do, is overwhelming. Life at 2 am in an ER is always overwhelming. That pit of desperation in your stomach is something no one ever forgets.
What do you do if this happens to you?
Here’s what I tell my clients;
- If you can afford Option A go with it. You are in good hands and the veterinary staff will do everything they can to help your pet. Go home, sleep, and they will call you in the morning to update you and provide further recommendations.
- If you cannot afford Option A speak to them respectfully and directly. They are people who want to help your pet. They may be busy, and tired but they want to help. Sit down with Option A and ask them how to get to the treatment part on a budget? Ask to remove every line item that is not imperative to a successful outcome. What does that mean? It means that you decline everything except the surgery if your dog has a pyometra, or a foreign body obstruction, or a GDV, or a puppy stuck inside the mom. EVERY SINGLE LINE ITEM. You sign every paper they ask you to sign saying that you understand cutting corners worsens your pets prognosis. But dead is dead and Option D is not going to happen until you both walk through every other Option on the list. Also, ask them to omit every diagnostic that does not have a treatable option. Don’t waste time and money looking for a diagnosis that is not curable or treatable IF you are on a budget. Start looking in the areas that have treatable options, or immediate life threatening consequences. Manage the finite resources smartly. Ask the vet to spend time talking. You paid for their time. Stay all night at the ER if you have to to manage the line items one-by-one.
- If they will not negotiate ask for in patient hospitalization and basic care until your vet opens, OR,
- Ask for the nearest ER that is not a referral practice AND NOT corporately owned. Drive there. Start the process over again.
Get onto Pawbly.com and ask for moral support. We are here for you, even if it is to tell you that we care, we are on your side, and you did the best you could. Don’t ever feel alone, because you are not alone. Compassion is free, and there is compassion here.
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Sending love and wet noses to all of you,