During the pandemic, more and more people have embraced pet ownership. However, few realize the potentially high costs associated with emergency veterinary care. Two pet owners in Ontario recently faced staggering bills when they had to euthanize their beloved pets.
A Heartbreaking Decision
Merrilyn Mulqueen from Toronto had to make the difficult choice to end the suffering of her daughter’s cat, Cleo. The 21-year-old feline was in pain, and the family decided to call a mobile veterinary service. Despite being informed in advance about the expense, Mulqueen was shocked when the bill for a less than hour-long visit amounted to $1,315.
“It’s taking advantage of people when they are extremely vulnerable,” said Mulqueen, expressing her frustration towards the company’s exorbitant charges.
Similarly, Megan Boothby from Peterborough was astonished at the bill she received for euthanizing her pet gerbil, Theodore. She rushed him to an emergency veterinary clinic when he was in distress. The clinic offered to euthanize Theodore, but the bill came to a whopping $602.
“It just seems so nasty to charge someone $600 to put down a gerbil. It just seems absurd,” Boothby exclaimed.
Expensive Pet Euthanasia
The Ontario Veterinary Medical Association (OVMA) explained that veterinary practices are considered small businesses and are not government-funded. As a result, prices can vary significantly between practices. The OVMA acknowledged the difficulty of saying goodbye to a beloved pet and assured pet owners that veterinarians would discuss available options and associated costs to help them make informed decisions.
The shortage of veterinarians, coupled with the elevated rates of burnout, stress, and compassion fatigue among veterinary professionals, has further exacerbated the issue. Veterinarians, like their human healthcare counterparts, have been deemed essential since the onset of the pandemic, leading to increased demand for their services.
To address the need for affordable pet care services, the Toronto Humane Society now offers a range of veterinary services, including dental care, vaccinations, tick and flea medications, and euthanasia for pets at a cost of $100, available by appointment only. Their Chief Operating Officer, Phil Nichols, emphasized that humane societies are not competing with veterinarians but rather trying to cater to pet owners who might not have access to regular veterinary care. Nichols estimated that approximately 50% of pet owners lack a regular veterinarian.
Other organizations are also attempting to provide more affordable options for pet euthanasia and other services. It is advisable for pet owners to explore different options and compare prices when seeking pet care. As medical costs for pets continue to rise, considering pet insurance or setting aside funds in a special account for potential medical emergencies may also be wise.
The shocking bills faced by pet owners in Ontario for euthanizing their pets highlight the financial burden associated with emergency veterinary care. As pet ownership continues to rise, it is essential for pet owners to anticipate and plan for unexpected medical expenses. While the cost of care can be substantial, it is crucial to prioritize the well-being of our furry companions in times of distress. If you find yourself in need of veterinary services, consider seeking out affordable alternatives and discussing costs upfront with your veterinarian.
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