I reiterate to my clients over and over again (both in person and via my blog) that one of the most important parts of adopting any animal is starting a savings account for that pet. Putting aside even a few dollars a week into an account for pet health/pet emergencies is the best thing you can do for your companion.
Why? First, none of us can tell when an emergency with our pet will arise. You can take the best care possible of your pet, and they can still suffer illnesses such as urethral obstruction or GDV. Secondly, if a client couldn't afford something I recommended but told me that they could meet me halfway because they saved up for this sort of thing, I'd be much, much more likely to help them out with the bill somehow.
Case in point. I was recently presented with a laterally recumbent, seizuring, vomiting dog. Ellie was a 3 year old, female spayed Lab mix. She was allowed to roam free. The previous day, she'd been normal. This morning, the owners had found her practically non-responsive, seizuring and twitching in the back yard. They rushed her to us.
The exam fee for me to even do a physical exam on a patient is $92. These owners had nothing. Ellie was obviously in critical condition, so I examined her anyway. After listening to her history and examining her, I came to the conclusion that she was likely suffering antifreeze poisoning.
I went over this with the owners and discussed treatment options. They assured me that they had NO money. Nothing. Not even the examination fee. They applied for CareCredit and were declined. Then they just sat there and stared at me, waiting for me to offer options. I explained again that we did not bill. Even if we DID bill, Ellie was likely too far gone for the antifreeze antidote to work at this point.
Still, they sat. Then the husband said, "You know, I don't want to put my dog down for financial reasons. Can't you work with me?"
Why would *I* lend money to someone I don't know? First, it's not my clinic. I am an associate. Thus, if I extend credit to someone that I doubt will ever pay us a dime, I am essentially stealing from my employer. Secondly, if a person cannot get approved for a medical purposes credit card and cannot find one family member or friend to loan them money, why would I trust them and extend credit?
In the end, the owners allowed me to euthanize Ellie to stop her suffering. These clients made no effort to even meet me halfway - say coming up with the exam fee and $60 to confirm my diagnosis with a few simple lab tests. Had they made any effort at all, I could have done some simple, cheap things to make sure I was right (a urine sediment exam to look for a specific type of crystal seen with antifreeze poisoning, a blood gas to assess pH of the blood, anion gap, and electrolyte status). But they didn't. They expected it all for free.
When we went to load the body into the car, the owners pulled up to the curb in an almost brand new sports car (certainly FAR nicer than my 13 year old SUV) and unloaded several thousands of dollars worth of audio equipment from the trunk to make room for the body of their *beloved* dog.
If you want to get your vet to help you out, you have to meet us at least halfway.