Pets are more than just animals. They become members of our families, and many of you would do anything to protect them. However, when they get sick and the treatments get expensive, you can be faced with some difficult and devastating decisions.
Ryan Waldrop of Madison Heights knows all too well how tough those life or death decisions can be. He found his feline companion, Reptar, when the cat was just a kitten. Waldrop was able to find homes for the kitten's mother and siblings, but he added Reptar to his own family, which includes another cat.
Local 4's Ruth Spencer asked Waldrop what made Reptar so special to him.
"No one in this world that's like more happy to see me. Every day I come home, he's at the window and I come in he jumps right on me," Waldrop said.
A medical crisis
In February of 2013, Reptar developed the feline equivalent of kidney stones. Waldrop says he paid $700 for one treatment, and $600 another to try and cure him. Unfortunately, Reptar was still in bad shape. His owner turned to Kimball Animal Hospital in Clawson, where there he was told that there might be a surgery that can help Reptar.
"That was going to be $1,200, and at that point, I was out of money," Waldrop said. Needing money fast, he decided to sell his 1972 Ford F-100. He posted an ad on Facebook and sold the truck in about an hour. He paid the hospital as Reptar was going into surgery.
Prepare for pet emergencies
How can you avoid being forced into such a difficult decision?
"Financial issues are definitely the biggest issue deciding medical care for pets," said Dr. Jason Rivas, owner of the Kimball Animal Hospital. He says more veterinarians try to work with clients to pay for the treatments their pets need.
"We've got multiple different types of pet insurance. We've got Care Credit, which is the medical credit card. We accept all credit cards," he said.
- When picking veterinary caretakers, look for animal hospitals that offer payment plans.
- Evaluate pet insurance. They work like health insurance and can help defray the cost of expensive treatments. Be careful to read all the fine print, think about deductibles, and what the coverage includes and does not. Pet insurance may not work for you, but look into it if you fear you cannot afford major
- medical expenses.
- Save money in an interest-bearing account.
- Look for lower-cost or non-profit alternatives.
- Search for charities that might help with treatment costs.
The most important thing is to investigate these options before you need them, or even before you buy a pet.
Strangers show kindness
An employee at Kimball Animal Hospital was touched by Waldrop and Reptar's story and posted about it online. Donations poured in and enough money was raised so Waldrop could buy his truck back.
"I don't even know how to describe the feeling I got when he told me that they came up with the money," Waldrop said. The person who purchased the truck heard about the situation and
was nice enough to sell the truck back to Waldrop.
Everyone involved in the crisis felt great about the outcome.
"A lot of goosebumps," Rivas said. "He was happy. We were happy."