CBC’s ‘Pets, Vets & Debts’ looks at costs, advances in animal health care
When it comes to treating an ailing pet, Toronto veterinarian Dr. Michael Ethier is the first to admit it can get expensive.
As director of emergency and critical care medicine at the Toronto Veterinary Emergency Hospital, he’s seen families spend up to $20,000 on their animals.
It may be a hard figure to swallow, but when you break down the costs - from a weeks-long stay in an intensive care unit to surgery and perhaps transfusions or MRIs - it makes sense, he adds.
With Canada’s publicly funded health-care system, most people don’t realize the exact costs involved in medical treatment, both for humans and animals.
Ethier is hoping the documentary “Pets, Vets & Debts,” making its world premiere on CBC-TV’s “The Nature of Things” on Thursday, will help clear up such misconceptions.
“There’s not a person in veterinary medicine, especially within specialty referral medicine, that will ever say to someone it’s not expensive to treat severely ill or complex pets,” says Ethier, who appears in the doc.
“What we’re hoping is that people understand why it costs more and that sure, in the ideal world we would love that this was similar to human medicine, where there weren’t costs passed on to the family members.”
Liam O’Rinn wrote and directed the film, which looks at the business of veterinary care and the latest medical advancements for animals, from stem cell transplants to 3D printed prosthetics.
According to the doc, Canadians collectively spend more than $2.25 billion annually on vet bills.
The doc also looks at the cost of pet insurance, which it says most Canadians don’t have.
“Looking into insurance and getting educated on insurance I think is a huge benefit for most families,” says Ethier.
“Unless you’re in a position to be fiscally responsible and put money aside either before you get your first pet or accumulated over the years of the pet and hope that its illness happens later on where you’ve developed that nest egg.”