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Can a vet legally hold a pet if owner can't pay the bill?

post #1 of 42
Thread Starter 
I'm doing an internship at a vet clinic and there is a situation I'm wondering about and find rather strange. A client brought in a stray she had found and the clinic accepted that cat. Because the poor kitty is extremely skinny they did a bunch of tests on him and started treatment. Three days later the person who found the cat located the owners who had posted on some website when the cat went missing. It turns out he's been out for a month and a half and probably has not been able to feed himself which is why he's so skinny.
The owners came into the clinic to get their cat, that they wanted, back but at this point a bunch of treatment had been done and the bill was $180. The clinic wasn't charging for everything they had done but they were charging for the testing and meds, I believe. The owners didn't have the money and somehow the cat was given up to the clinic. The owners were really sad about that but just couldn't come up with the money. The clinic rationalized keeping the cat when they couldn't pay the bill by saying that had he gone to a shelter there would also have been a fee to pick him up from there. But even if there was a fee it's not $180.

The cat is being well cared for now and will be rehomed but I just think the whole situation is sad and unfair. I understand that it costs a lot of money to care for a cat and that at any time the cat could need $180 worth of vet care and if the owners don't have that then maybe they can't care for the cat. That is the opinion of the clinic anyway. But for a lot of people $180 is a lot of money and nothing they can just come up with just like that. In my opinion that doesn't mean that they can't provide a good home for THEIR cat. Ideally every pet should be in a home where the owners can afford needed vet care but I don't think that just because you don't have the money right now that you should not be allowed to get your cat back. They didn't ask for all that blood work and stuff to be done and I don't think they should be faced with having to pay it or lose the cat they've had for six years who they clearly missed and have looked for.

This family is apparently an immigrant family who speaks limited English and I can imagine felt that they had no choice but to give up their cat. But I'm wondering if legally they would have a choice. This situation is settled. The cat is staying at the clinic for now. But I'm wondering if, in a situation like this, the owners would decide to challenge the clinic's demand to pay the bill or give up the cat if they could get their cat back? Can a vet legally refuse to give back a pet if the bill is not paid? Especially if the owners didn't authorize the bill to be run up in the first place?
post #2 of 42
I don't know about legally but ethically, yeah, I'd have a problem with that vet. Could they not have set up a payment plan with this family? Couldn't they have tried something to get this animal back to its family?

I know that I return any unused medications back to my vet when we lose a kitty so that they can provide those meds to another family that may not have the financial resources we have. I'm thankful our vet is open to that.
post #3 of 42
My guess is that the folks would not have paid more than the first payment to the vet if there had been some arrangement made. Once the cat left the office, what's the vet going to do? Repossess the cat?

Here's my take on it. The vet did the cat (and the owners, and the finder) a kindness by taking the cat in when they had no prospect of getting paid for working on a stray. The vet's office doesn't work for free. It can't. Someone has to bear the cost of the treatment.

In addition, the vet may have had some perception that the cat had been neglected and wanted to save it from that. Who knows?

Now if we could just get the emergency room to do this with the kids that come in clearly neglected....
post #4 of 42
I find this situation really odd. It was wonderful of the vet practice to take in the stray cat - I guess.

The way we wound up with Flowerbelle was that a couple found a dying white kitten in a liquor store parking lot. Her eyes were glued shut, she was badly sunburned, she'd been attacked by something, she was starving. Gary happened to be at the vet when they brought her in. The vet practice says, we're so sorry, we're not a shelter. (Now they have a list of foster networks and shelters with phone numbers available - they didn't at the time). They said that to leave the kitten there for care, they would have to accept financial responsibility for her. They recommended they contact shelters for help.

Well, they were going to put her back where the found her, and Gary intervened. That's a different story...

But it seems to me the person that found the cat and brought it to the vet should have been responsible for her care. Either that, or the vet practice, having accepted the cat, should have been responsible for the cat! It's a very happy happenstance that the cat COULD have been reunited with its owners. But had they not been found - who would have been financially responsible for the cat?

IMO, the owners of the cat are not responsible for this. It would be wonderful if they could have afforded it, and this was no issue. But it highlights a problem... and, IMO, is a reason why vets aren't shelters. Shelters are non-profit, a vet wants to get paid at least cost for the services.

The vet should either have the person dropping the cat off take financial responsibility, or not expect remuneration when they do a good samaritan kind of thing. And they should have a list of shelters/foster networks/rescue orgs available with the contact information.
post #5 of 42
Wow that is sad!!

I can see where the vet's office is coming from; but I think I'm with Laurie on this one. Because they didn't ask. They couldn't have expected to find the owners. They probably should not have taken the cat; or should have helped the people who found her get her to a shelter that could help.
post #6 of 42
In Ontario, a.clinic cannot legally withhold someone's cat if they are unable to pay the bill. All we really can do is send them to collections. Keep in mind that in a typical situation, the client.is told the approximate cost of treatment or signs an estimate. If.they sign it, that.means they have agreed to the treatment AND to pay the estimate amount.

However, in this particular case, the owners didn't have an estimate to sign. So this complicates things.

At my clinic, we don't take in strays. We refer to the humane society. They are responsible for the cat's care. This avoids situations like the one in your clinic.

I don't think your clinic had the right to keep .the cat because they didn't have agreement from anyone. It seems they jumped the gun in doing the tests....mind you, depending on what tests were run, maybe they were taking precautions in case the cat had a contagious illness. Why didn't they give the cat to a shelter? On one hand, they did the owner a.favour and accepted the cat. Since they didn't know if the cat had an owner or not, they shouldn't have expected payment.

However, (again) if the owners aren't able to pay $180, should they really be caring for a cat? I know that sounds cruel but if a clinic did a $180 favours for everyone, it wouldn't survive. What if they had found their cat on their own and it had been attacked by another animal and needed care? A laceration repair would cost considerably more than $180. What if the other animal had rabies or some other communicable disease? What if he cat developed hepatic lipidosis because of lack of food? I suppose then they would have a choice in whether to treat or not but if they didn't treat, I would think that would border on cruelty.

What a tough situation. I sympathize with those who are financially strapped but as someone who works in a clinic, I have seen the tears and heard the promises when we've offered a payment plan (and the owner has signed a contract), and we see no payment. In one case, a woman owned five cats two of which were not fixed. So of course, the female got pregnant. The.woman told me none of her cats are vaccinated because she couldn't afford it. Her cat needed a.c-section. So we offered to do the c-section and spay for $300. That is the cost of a small dog spay at my clinic. Her son promises and signed a contract that $100 would be paid each month for the next three months. That was back in December 2010. We have yet to see the money even though they repeated their promises.
But, I think your clinic jumped the gun and really shouldn't have expected payment even though they didn't charge for everything. They could have waited a.week to see if the cat was going to be claimed. But maybe they felt that if the family can't pay $180: then maybe the cat should be rehomed to someone who can. Ugh.
post #7 of 42
In the UK this cannot happen. The vet can refer the client to a debt collection agency or to the courts, but cannot hold an animal hostage.

If someone actually tried to do that with my cat then I suspect my toys would have an "out of pram experience" and a drama would unfold.
post #8 of 42
In Texas, animals are considered property, and I believe the courts would be lenient on holding the property until payment is made, as either a written or verbal contract is in place (both of which have equal strength). After all, if I took my car to the body shop, and tried to pick it up without paying them... no way the court would side with me.
Quote:
Originally Posted by RAFM View Post
I don't know about legally but ethically, yeah, I'd have a problem with that vet. Could they not have set up a payment plan with this family?
A veterinary clinic is a business. If its not profitable, then it goes out of business. Its that simple. So, no, they can't work for free and hope that just maybe they might get paid in the future.

Having worked at a hospital for human patients, I can guarantee you that 99% of the time the people that can't pay up front and don't have insurance don't pay... ever. Working the night shift, at least half the people coming in were just gang bangers or illegal aliens, they can't pay, and that is the reason that medical care is so expensive as the one person we can charge has to pay for the other two people we couldn't bill. The cash has to come from somewhere.

If I were a vet, to avoid my services being habitually abused, I could either:
1) Turn away sick cats until payment can be verified
2) Heal the sick cats, but hold them or adopt them out if the owner won't take financial responsibility

I would definitely side with the latter option, as that way at least the cat is doing well and the owner if it at all cares about the animal will pony up the cash when held, and if not is probably not financially secure enough to be able to provide proper care for the cat in the first place.

The other option of course is to do like our people hospitals and just absorb the financial hit and try to pass it on to all the other innocent people that have always paid their bills. This is usually not fair and renders the clinic noncompetitive in the long term... which we figured out, our hospital closed down and all the nurses were laid off that couldn't be reassigned to other hospitals.
post #9 of 42
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ducman69 View Post
In Texas, animals are considered property, and I believe the courts would be lenient on holding the property until payment is made, as either a written or verbal contract is in place (both of which have equal strength). After all, if I took my car to the body shop, and tried to pick it up without paying them... no way the court would side with me.
This isn't an applicable comparison though. This problem would be... you left your car in a shopping mall parking lot and couldn't remember where you left it. You left the keys in it, and some good samaritan drove it to the body shop, because it had peeling paint and the engine didn't sound right when they started it up. The body shop took the car, ran diagnostics and fixed it up without requesting that the person who dropped it off be responsible financially for the car. Then they ran the plates, contacted you, and told you if you wanted your car, you'd have to pay for it.

You didn't have money for that in your budget, and the car was still running, and the body work was cosmetic. There was nothing fundamentally wrong with your car.

What should have happened is that the good samaritan should have called the police, who would have run the plates and contacted you. You would have then gone to retrieve your car. Perhaps it was towed, and you had to pay a fee. But that fee would not have been the same cost as repairing your car.
post #10 of 42
Thread Starter 
I don't think this issue was really about the money. When the clinic accepted the cat they didn't know if an owner would be found or not so they accepted the cost. When the owners were found they just didn't want to give them anything for free. Now that the cat has been surrendered to the clinic it's going to cost even more and the clinic will eat that so it can't be about the money.
Apparently this clinic does this once in a while. They have taken in some strays and litters of kittens, fixed them up and placed them in homes. They don't take any cat that is brought in though. This one was brought in by a good, long time client and the clinic did her a favor by taking the cat.
I think they did the right thing taking the cat and not having him taken to a shelter. Around here the only shelters that will take a cat on short notice are town or county pounds or other high kill shelters and the cat would have gotten little care there. He could very well have been euthanized too since he was so skinny. A shelter don't have the money to figure out if the cat is skinny because he hasn't eaten and just need some food and time to get better or if he's skinny because he's sick and will need a bunch expensive vet care. They just stay on the safe, cheap side and euthanize the cat just in case. So if you want to help the cat you don't take him to one of these shelters.
Had they demanded that the finder pay the bill the cat would probably not have been left there and would have been taken to the pound so I think the clinic did the right thing by not demanding that either.

What I think they should have done is eaten the bill just like they are doing now or just charged the owners for their actual, tangible costs. Giving 100cc of sub-q fluids doesn't really cost the clinic the $30 they charge. It costs less than a dollar. The blood work is done in house and doesn't cost that much either. I understand that there are other costs involved like staff wages, rent and upkeep of the building but those are things that are paid regardless of whether or not the cat is there.
They didn't want to bill the owners because they couldn't be out the money. They wanted to bill the owners out of principle that they shouldn't get all this vet care done for free since they benefit from it. They also didn't think that the owners could properly care for the cat since they didn't even have $180 for necessary vet care. I can understand that and I agree that if you're going to have a pet you have to be able to give them what they need. But then again I'm not sure if that's the vet's office's decision to make. And they don't know if the owners are maybe just facing a temporary hardship and would normally be able to pay for vet care. This cat is a beloved family member and he's wanted. The family shouldn't have to lose their cat because they don't have $180 right now for a bill that they didn't run up. I would be devastated if I was in that situation. What if your cat got out, got hit by a car, was brought to the vet and had a $1000 surgery and then you were told that you have to pay the $1000 bill or you can't get your cat back because the vet thinks that you're not a good enough owner if you can't pay for the surgery he thought was needed?

I also think it's unfortunate that this cat will now take up one of the few homes available for adult cats, and one of the very few who will adopt a black cat, when he already had a home and there are so many other black cats out there that have no other options.
post #11 of 42
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ziggy'smom View Post
They also didn't think that the owners could properly care for the cat since they didn't even have $180 for necessary vet care. ... The family shouldn't have to lose their cat because they don't have $180 right now for a bill that they didn't run up.
Payment of necessary vet care = responsible cat owner. And knowing the price of standard tests, I'm betting the $180 wasn't a standard "over-the-counter" cost, but was scaled down to the bare minimum.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ziggy'smom View Post
What if your cat got out, got hit by a car, was brought to the vet and had a $1000 surgery and then you were told that you have to pay the $1000 bill or you can't get your cat back because the vet thinks that you're not a good enough owner if you can't pay for the surgery he thought was needed?
First - the actual care was for only $180 dollars, not a grand. Second - I'd find a way to pay the $1000, thank the clinic for saving my cat, thank the woman who cared enough to take the time and effort to bring my cat to someone who would care for him, and then ensure my "beloved" cat was safely inside for good.

AC
post #12 of 42
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ziggy'smom View Post
I also think it's unfortunate that this cat will now take up one of the few homes available for adult cats, and one of the very few who will adopt a black cat, when he already had a home and there are so many other black cats out there that have no other options.
I think it's very sad the clinic is deciding who's worthy of owning a cat or not based on an ability to pay at that particular time. There may well be another vet that would let them make payments if there were ever an issue and kitty needed care.
post #13 of 42
If an owner cannot (or will not) pay $180 to retrieve their pet, then they are not fit owners, and should not keep animals in the first place. I strongly reject the "animals are property" argument, even though it is law in most states, if not all. If the owner wants to enforce his/her legal rights, than file a lawsuit. In the meantime, if I were the vet, I would find the animal a good home. If and when I am taken to court, the very worst that can happen (as per that stupid law) is that I would have to pay the "market value" of the animal (which isn't much).

I am outraged by the notion that someone can't/won't pay $180 to retrieve their "lost" cat. I am also suspicious of the extent to which this "owner" even tried to find the cat. If the owner had instead TAKEN the cat to the vet, and subsequently conceded that they could not afford to pay the bill, that is a completely different matter.
post #14 of 42
The cat was lost, and the owners DID post trying to find their lost pet.

We know nothing about the situation of the people's whose pet it was. When you get fired, have health problems and lose your insurance but don't qualify for medicare, let's see how you feel about having $180 lying around handy. Should we expect everyone who's down on their luck to rehome their cats?
post #15 of 42
Quote:
Originally Posted by LDG View Post
Should we expect everyone who's down on their luck to rehome their cats?
We should expect everyone who can't afford even a mere $180 medical bill to not expect the service for free at the expense of the clinic and/or all the other fur-families using their service, and for the vet to try and find a more financially stable caretaker that can afford to properly care for the cat's needs (food/shelter/healthcare).

Getting credit for $180, unless already ruined by reneging on a string other promises ruining their rating, shouldn't be that difficult for someone that really cares for the cat and is in a position to take care of it IMO.
post #16 of 42
Well there have definitely been times when Gary and I didn't have $180 on hand to pay, and would have had to wait a couple of weeks if they weren't willing to make payment arrangements, and I think we're damn good kitty parents. When life takes a turn for the worse, your credit card is usually maxed out shortly after making payments. We don't have friends we would feel comfortable borrowing money from, and family can't help. We've already sold everything we can.

But waiting a couple of weeks wasn't an option, and would only have made the bill go up.

We've worked with our vet for 10 years, and they know that if we can't pay now, we can pay later, so even though we're down on our luck, our cats don't suffer lack of proper care. These people didn't have that opportunity. They didn't choose that vet, they didn't choose to have their cat go missing.

If a vet is going to get into the rescue business, they should base their decisions on whether or not someone is a "fit" owner on more than just someone's ability to pay $180 right then and there. Did they ask for current vet references?

Just because someone is on a fixed income or has become unemployed is, IMO, no reason to deny returning a cat to its home.
post #17 of 42
But a veterinarian and clinic are specialized in healing cats.

They aren't specialized in making financial loans and setting up and enforcing payments and collection agencies and the like.

There are plenty of businesses however that ARE specialized in setting up loans with payment plans, and these are the people you would approach to borrow the $180 from to pay the vet, not the vet themselves.

Payday Loans, QuickCash, Horizon, SecureCash, and other such guys are in that business. Most major banks have short term sub $1500 loans available as well. Heck, I remember hearing radio commercials for income tax refund advance loans.
post #18 of 42
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ducman69 View Post
They aren't specialized in making financial loans and setting up and enforcing payments and collection agencies and the like.
Which is exactly why they shouldn't be in the rescue business. The person dropping off the cat should be made to be financially responsible. If not, they should be told to contact a shelter.
post #19 of 42
Quote:
Originally Posted by LDG View Post
Which is exactly why they shouldn't be in the rescue business. The person dropping off the cat should be made to be financially responsible. If not, they should be told to contact a shelter.


Your cat runs out the door, you search for it at least enough to put an online posting up (and likely more than that), and weeks later you find out your cat is at a vet you don't know and you owe them $180? If the vet expected payment for the services rendered for the at that point "stray" cat, the vet should have gone to the good samaritan rescuer. It is a complete fluke that the owners were found. Will the new adopting family be expected to pay the $180 bill now? I expect not. So the new family will likely only pay an adoption fee. The vet will eat the cost. Why couldn't the vet do the same for the ACTUAL owners?
post #20 of 42
Quote:
Originally Posted by CrumbAndHarvey View Post
Your cat runs out the door, you search for it at least enough to put an online posting up (and likely more than that), and weeks later you find out your cat is at a vet you don't know and you owe them $180?
The cat was emaciated, out for over a month with next to no food as I understand it.

Yes, the vet could have simply said, "no I'm not going to nurse this cat back to health before payment". If Wesley or Buttercup were turned away, frankly, I would be pissed. I would much rather veterinarians help sick cats when they can and worry about payment after. And if a vet had rescued my cat, I would be very thankful they did everything they could to nurse them back to health, and it wouldn't even cross my mind that I could collect them and not pay for the very reasonable medical cost.

Lesson learned for responsible pet owners is that you also need to have some way to identify your cat so that when found people CAN call you. Wesley and Buttercup are microchipped and tattooed, and when there is a possibility of getting out (vet trips or guests over) wear ID'd collars w/ my contact info.

Pet ownership entails a certain bare minimum level of responsibility.
post #21 of 42
Thread Starter 
I've also been in situations where I wouldn't have been able to come up with $180. If you're out of work and your credit is shot because of it you won't get any loans or credit. Not even for $180. I don't think that means that you are not a capable, responsible owner. People do fall on hard times and I don't think you should lose your beloved cat because of it. Of course I would never have signed my cat over to the vet. I would have asked if I could work off the bill or done whatever I had to. But this family spoke limited English and I think they were very intimidated. They probably didn't know what their rights were or that they had options. They were really sad about losing the cat that they've cared for for six years and I don't think the cat would have been put in a bad environment had he been allowed to come home with them.

The reason I brought up the example of being asked to pay a $1000 bill to get your cat back was because that's a lot of money for most people and for a lot of people would be extremely hard to come up with. If you're unemployed and have bad credit $180 is just as hard to come up with as $1000 is to most people. It may sound measly to you but if you're broke it might as well be a million.

It would be great if all pets could live in homes that can afford whatever vet care they would need but that's not the case. If only well off people could have cats we would have many more homeless cats. There are a lot of kids that grow up in homes where the parents can't provide them with everything. Does that mean that the parents are unfit or irresponsible? No, they can still be wonderful parents just like poor cat owners can be wonderful cat owners. It may not be ideal but life isn't ideal.
post #22 of 42
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ziggy'smom View Post
There are a lot of kids that grow up in homes where the parents can't provide them with everything. Does that mean that the parents are unfit or irresponsible?
If the parents lost their kid for over a month, and the child shows up in a hospital thanks to a good samaritan and they can't even secure a loan for the $180 medical bill or even have a means to communicate in the language of the country they are in, yeah, I would say they didn't ace the parental responsibility exam. CPS and perhaps even the INS might get involved, considering that its near impossible to get a H1 Visa w/o English proficiency.

Don't get me wrong, if you can't budget ultra premium food or toys and what not for your kitty, no biggie. But healthcare is a basic need that has to be budgeted for in a responsible household, and yes ultimately pets do cost money and not everyone can afford to properly care for them.
post #23 of 42
Quote:
Originally Posted by LDG View Post
The cat was lost, and the owners DID post trying to find their lost pet.

We know nothing about the situation of the people's whose pet it was. When you get fired, have health problems and lose your insurance but don't qualify for medicare, let's see how you feel about having $180 lying around handy. Should we expect everyone who's down on their luck to rehome their cats?
This is what I find hard about the industry in which I work. While I believe that people should make sure they have sufficient time and funds to provide basic care for their pets, I can put myself in the shoes of someone who let's say has been laid off or just had a huge medical bill to pay for themselves. If the owner of this cat was a single owner and was having a battle with cancer, would we feel the same?

My clinic has done this a couple of times and the cats have become clinic cats at my clinic or at other clinics that the owner owns. Or some of the staff have adopted them. The clinic is taking a chance of keeping a cat that will never find a home. I think since the clinic jumped the gun, they should have given the family a chance to pay on an installment plan. If they defaulted, then they could consider signing the cat over. However, if you have fallen on bad times, the pets are usually the first to go so what would you do in this situation? Would you starve yourself so you could feed your cat? Or would you sign her over to someone who could take care of your cat? In my current situation, I have people I can rely on to borrow money from and plus I get a discount, but if I didn't, I don't know what I would do. But I think the fair thing would have been to give the owners a chance to decide and just eat the money. I get the idea that a vet clinic is a business and if you give in to one client, you have to give in to another. There are many clients who don't pay - I just had one tonight. But I think in this case, the owners should have been given a second chance.
post #24 of 42
Quote:
Originally Posted by SweetPea24 View Post
I think since the clinic jumped the gun, they should have given the family a chance to pay on an installment plan. If they defaulted, then they could consider signing the cat over.
What, the clinic is now going to be involved in the repo business to enter someone's home and take the cat back? The best they can do is submit it to a collection agency, which gives them only a small fraction of what they are owed, if they would even bother.

And they know that too, which is why you'd probably never hear from them again.
Quote:
Originally Posted by SweetPea24 View Post
In my current situation, I have people I can rely on to borrow money from
Me too, my good friends at CHASE Bank.

And if someone has habitually abused loans to the point that no one will lend them money, that is again their own doing that they need to take responsibility for as well IMO.
post #25 of 42
Just my opinion, animals are more than property.

The only circumstance in which the vet should have withheld the cat is if there was sufficient indication of neglect or abuse. Otherwise it simply isn't fair to the cat or to its parents to rehome this kitty.

I don't think it is appropriate for the vet to have made this about money. In an ideal world everyone would have enough money for a vet bill but in the real world it doesn't happen like that. There are way more homeless and stray animals being euthanized and rescues are happy to work with families who may have limited incomes- case in point, older cats being given or adopted at very reduced rates to seniors who live on pensions.

As far as treatment, I agree with the other poster, unless the cat had wounds or URI the bill would be the cost of fluids, 1 dose of revolution, a round of nemix, five or six cans of A/D, and testing for diseases. It shouldn't add up to $180.

Ideally the vet should have had their shelter-partner re-interview the owners and execute an adoption contract even if no fee were ultimately involved. Then the owners would be held to minimum care standards by the shelter and would also be subject to the same adoption process and interview, the cat equivalent of Family Services. :-)
post #26 of 42
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ducman69 View Post
What, the clinic is now going to be involved in the repo business to enter someone's home and take the cat back? The best they can do is submit it to a collection agency, which gives them only a small fraction of what they are owed, if they would even bother.

And they know that too, which is why you'd probably never hear from them again.

Me too, my good friends at CHASE Bank.

And if someone has habitually abused loans to the point that no one will lend them money, that is again their own doing that they need to take responsibility for as well IMO.
Well no not necessarily. But would definitely have a very suggestive discussion about surrendering the cat. While the family may be providing the basics like food and shelter, what is going to happen if something more serious happens? If the family has hit bad times, I hope that things.will get better but what if it.doesn't? While I thinkthe clinic should have given.the family their cat back, the family has to be realistic. Of course, depending.on the.circumstances.
post #27 of 42
I was just watching the news and in New York, there is a case of two pit bulls being taken out of their home because they were starving to death. One may not survive as they don't know how much gastrointestinal damage there is. I'm not sure if it was a police officer or SPCA agent who went to the house but it was for a routine check, not to investigate the couple who owned the dogs. The couple is being charged with animal cruelty. Their reason for the dogs' condition is that they couldn't afford the vet bills to make them better.

This may not be the exact same situation but would you still hold that the couple were in dire straits (I.e. laid off, hit a bad break) and should be able to keep the dogs? If they couldn't afford care, wouldn't the humane thing to do be finding someone who could, either a friend, no-kill shelter or a vet hospital or to euthanize them so they are not suffering anymore? The dogs looked frighteningly emaciated, just skin and bones but still sweet as pit bulls. Imagine the pain they are feeling as their insides are wasting away. Obviously,the vet bills would be higher for these dogs than for the cat but the cat was also emaciated and could possibly have hepatic lipidosis. The owners could not afford this so what would you say should be done?

I still think that the hospital should eat the $180 but if the cat needed further treatment when the owners found him?
post #28 of 42
I don't know enough about the case to have an opinion. Animal cruelty is animal cruelty. They weren't feeding the animals? What were they eating themselves? Did they have things they could sell? Any services on which they could cut down to provide money for dog food? They still paying for cable? Cellphones?

When it comes to tough times, choices have to be made. If one of those choices is to keep your cable and your cellphone or whatever vs. buying food for your animal, rehome your animal.

Your animal needs a vet and you can't find a vet willing to work with you? Contact shelters for "angel vet funds." Apply for angel funds for vet care online.

I don't know if they tried, I don't know what steps they took.

I just know that Ducman's never faced hard times and had to face major human medical bills without insurance. You can have issues with your credit without having ever screwed anyone. And Chase doesn't make $180 loans, especially to unemployed people. You can't get a payday loan without employment.

I do know that people living on fixed incomes or facing hard times can make great pet parents.

I continue to believe that vets should not play good samaritan unless they plan to use the same policies that shelters do.

Speculating as to the condition of the cat and what further care would be required is an exercise in futility. The fact is this couple didn't speak english well, apparently felt intimidated by the situation, and DID try to locate their lost cat.

The FACTS are that many, many people have hit hard times. And when they lose their homes, they often leave their animals behind, because most shelters are full or charge a fee to give up your animal.

So cats that have homes with people who love them should be allowed to live in those homes. When and if the cat needs care, people usually have the option of locating a vet themselves - one that may have different policies.

The vet provided a good samaritan service. So if the cat needed care, and had never gone missing, and the couple brought the cat in, and said, our cat needs care, but we may not be able to afford all of it now - would the vet have walked them through the options? Explained care credit? Referred them to a vet that accepts payments or care credit?

We'll never know.
post #29 of 42
Very true. Who are we to judge anyway? All the news said was.that the couple said they couldn't afford vet care but they didn't have food available for the dogs either. The vet taking care of the dogs said one has severe gastrointestinal damage but she didn't know the extent and that he is in intensive care.

As much as there are irresponsible people out there, for the most part, people want to do the best for their pets (at my clinic). My heart breaks every time someone has fallen on bad times and all avenues have been exhausted and they have to make a decision. Often times, the decision is to euthanize. My clinic will ask the client if they want to sign their pet over (if whatever the animal is dealing with can be resolved with treatment) but most elect to euthanize. I've taken an animal in when the client wasn't willing to pay for treatment.
post #30 of 42
We helped all the local vets set up angel funds (back in the days when we had money LOL). But they kept them going. Rather than having a donation cup for local shelters or whatever, they have donation cups for the angel fund. This money goes towards the medical care of animals of people on fixed incomes.

It started because we were at the vet (we were there all the time when we were rescuing) when an elderly couple came in. They were well known by the vet, they'd been caring for their cat for the past 15 years. The cat had gotten out, and was hit by a car. Poor thing had a broken leg. These people were devastated. But they couldn't afford the cost of fixing it. The vet gave them the number of some shelters to call - sometimes they come through with funds for emergencies like this.

They couldn't find help. We were on our way out, and they were still there. It was just insanely heartbreaking.

So we talked to the office manager and told her we wanted to take care of it - their choice, at that point, was to put an otherwise healthy kitty to sleep.

We wanted to remain anonymous. But the angel emergency fund was born, and we introduced the idea to all the other local area vets. (Along with the idea to keep lists of shelters/foster networks available to hand out to people who come in with rescued animals - as in the example in the OP's post).

And it's the people that use those vets that keep them going.
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