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Web letter by Terra Schmidt: Pet care a financial responsibility, so weigh options carefully

This is a follow-up to my October Web letter regarding people who are having difficulty affording veterinary care for their pets. In that letter, I expressed frustration with veterinarians who do not offer payment plans or who otherwise fail to work with their clients when it comes to covering these expenses.

The sad fact is that so many people skip out on paying their bills. A company only needs to get burned once or twice before it changes the way it does business. You know how it goes: A few bad apples always ruin it for the rest. I neglected to address this aspect in the past letter, and for that I apologize to anyone I may have inadvertently offended. There are so many great vet clinics that do work with pet owners in any way they can. I also hope to offer a few suggestions for those who are struggling with pet expenses now or in the future.

One of the most important things you can do is to maintain a good relationship with your veterinarian from the start. He or she will be much more likely to allow a payment plan for a trusted client. Using a veterinarian in a less expensive area, such as a smaller town, is also something to consider. If necessary, call around for a second opinion or a better rate. You can also apply for Care Credit; this is specifically designed for health care costs and can be used for pets and humans, too. There happen to be many animal welfare organizations that help with costs through grants. However, these groups often rely on donations, and when those donations are down their ability to help is adversely effected.

Ultimately, pet ownership is not for everyone. It requires a commitment to provide for that animal throughout its entire lifetime. This includes being prepared for unexpected expenses, perhaps by having an emergency fund in place.

The decision to open your heart and home to a pet can be one of the best you’ll make, but it is not a decision to be taken lightly.

TERRA SCHMIDT

Fort Wayne

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