Fund helps pets in need

The News Herald (Willoughby, OH) - - Front Page - By Tawana Roberts troberts@news-her­ald.com @TawanaRobert­sNH on Twit­ter

Vet­eri­nary care can some­times be un­fore­seen, ex­pen­sive and bur­den­some for pet own­ers.

So, to help pet own­ers in cir­cum­stances where ex­penses ex­ceeded that of rou­tine med­i­cal care, Dr. Matthew Schroeder of Cross­roads Vet­eri­nary Hos­pi­tal in Painesville de­vel­oped the Whit­taker Fund over five years ago.

“While the cost of pro­vid­ing health care for our pets is part of be­ing a pet owner, oc­ca­sion­ally accidental in­juries re­quir­ing surgery or un­ex­pected health con­di­tions arise and leave own­ers with the dif­fi­cult de­ci­sion of ex­pen­sive pet care or eu­thana­sia,” ac­cord­ing to the web­site.

The fund was formed in mem­ory of Whit­taker, a 1-year-old English set­ter that pre­sented to Cross­roads with gas­troin­testi­nal prob­lems. Upon treat­ment, Schroeder dis­cov­ered a piece of a rub­ber toy ob­struct­ing his small in­tes­tine and Whit­taker did not sur­vive, said Ve­teri­nar­ian Tech­ni­cian Hanna Reimer.

Reimer said the Whit­taker Fund helps pay a per­cent­age of the costs and el­i­gi­bil­ity is de­ter­mined on a case-by-case ba­sis.

It is sup­ported fully by do­na­tions, which can be dropped off at Cross­roads Vet­eri­nary Hos­pi­tal, 1016 Bank St. in Painesville.

While this fund can­not sup­port ev­ery pet in need, Cross­roads of­fers mul­ti­ple pay­ment op­tions, in­clud­ing fi­nanc­ing through Care Credit.

Reimer said Care Credit is a med­i­cal credit card, and pay­ments are di­vided into six monthly in­stall­ments. Those who are in­ter­ested can ei­ther ap­ply di­rectly at the hos­pi­tal or on­line at care­credit.com, for an im­me­di­ate re­sponse.

“The down­fall is ev­ery­one doesn’t get ap­proved, since it is based on a credit,” she said. On the other hand, another cost-sav­ing solution is pet in­sur­ance.

“Pet in­sur­ance is a lot like our in­sur­ance and they don’t cover pre-ex­ist­ing con­di­tions,” she said. “So, we really rec­om­mend it for pup­pies or kit­tens, be­fore they de­velop any med­i­cal con­di­tions.”

Reimer said they sug­gest Em­brace, which is an Ohiobased com­pany with a va­ri­ety of plans.

Wick­liffe res­i­dent Dewayne Brand, who was a former po­lice of­fer and K-9 han­dler, said that pet in­sur­ance has been help­ful.

Brand has a plan through Em­brace and is pleased with the cov­er­age for his two dogs, a Ger­man shep­herd/husky mix and a Ger­man shep­herd. Both dogs were re­cently treated at a vet­eri­nary clinic in Wick­liffe af­ter an un­ex­pected in­ci­dent and Brand said the ve­teri­nar­ian bills were man­age­able with Em­brace.

House­holds spent an av­er­age of $528 on pets in 2015 com­pared to $508 in 2014 and $460 in 2013, ac­cord­ing to the most re­cent data from the U.S. De­part­ment of La­bor’s Bureau of La­bor Sta­tis­tics.

Specif­i­cally, av­er­age house­hold spend­ing on vet­eri­nary ser­vices in 2015 was $133, which is about 25 per­cent of av­er­age house­hold ex­pen­di­tures on pets.

The Amer­i­can Vet­eri­nary Med­i­cal As­so­ci­a­tion says good pre­ven­tive care in­clud­ing vac­ci­na­tion, con­trol of par­a­sites and weight man­age­ment helps re­duce long-term pet health care costs be­cause it pre­vents many dis­eases. Reg­u­lar ex­ams also help de­tect prob­lems ear­lier, when they may be less ex­pen­sive to treat and treat­ment is more likely to re­sult in a good out­come.

Pet vac­cines are crit­i­cal, Schroeder said in a pre­vi­ous in­ter­view. There are many risks to not vac­ci­nat­ing pets, and the ef­fects of not get­ting vac­ci­nated are far worst and com­pletely pre­ventable, he said.

Ex­perts con­clude that pet own­ers can com­bat ris­ing vet­eri­nary ex­penses by ap­ply­ing for credit, plan­ning ahead, get­ting good pre­ven­ta­tive care, hav­ing pet in­sur­ance and ef­fec­tively com­mu­ni­cat­ing.

The Amer­i­can Vet­eri­nary Med­i­cal As­so­ci­a­tion ad­vises pet own­ers to be hon­est and up­front with their vet­eri­nar­i­ans, let­ting them know of any fi­nan­cial lim­i­ta­tions.

“Know­ing this in ad­vance can help your ve­teri­nar­ian make rec­om­men­da­tions that will pro­vide the most ef­fi­cient use of your fi­nan­cial re­sources,” ac­cord­ing to the AVMA. ”It can be a chal­lenge, but your ve­teri­nar­ian will do the best he or she can to pro­vide your pet with the best pos­si­ble care within your fi­nan­cial lim­its.”

Reimer said many peo­ple call ahead to find out how much the visit costs, be­cause pay­ments are re­quired at the time of ser­vice.

“This helps them plan and be bet­ter pre­pared for their visit,” she said.

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