Since the housing crash of 2009, Americans have slowly gotten used to living in a bad economy. We’ve gotten used to making hard decisions with a shrug, or a sigh of frustration, or a rant about how tight money is.
But yesterday, this was all brought home to my husband and me, as we made such a decision with tears.
Earlier this semester, we adopted a bull shepherd puppy from my parents. As a raving Tolkien fan, I named the rambunctious puppy Balrog.
This past week, Balrog came down with canine parvovirus, an illness that simultaneously starves, poisons, and dehydrates a dog. Parvo is extremely contagious, and has a high mortality rate.
There is a vaccine. My husband and I had not yet taken Balrog for his shots, both because we thought he was too young, and because we were too broke.
The moment Balrog started showing symptoms, we rushed him to a vet, hoping it wasn’t parvo, and hoping we could catch it in time.
The news was mixed; it was definitely parvo, but we’d caught it in time. If treated immediately, our puppy could have as high as a 90 percent chance of making a full recovery.
And then, the worst thing anyone ever wants to hear when a loved one’s life is on the line, be he or she two or four-legged:
Will that be cash, check or charge to start treatment?
Ringing in to the tune of $1100 for the first three days, the parvo treatment was far beyond anything my husband and I could afford.
We asked if they would take payments. They would not. We tried to qualify for financing. We were denied.
Sitting there in the office, we came to the sickening realization that this wonderful animal, with a treatable disease, and a good prognosis, was going to have to be put down.
Because we couldn’t afford to pay for treatment.
Perhaps the final straw in all this was when, after tears and discussions, we asked them to put him down.
And we couldn’t afford that either.
In the end, we had to hug our puppy good bye, sign him into the vet’s care, and let them euthanize him in private. Without us.
There are hard decisions, and then there are simple ones.
Get your animals their shots. Make the time and set the money aside. The economy is hard, but your pet is family.
And preventatives are infinitely easier, both on the wallet and the heart, than hospital visits.
To contact Jeremy Cloud, email firstname.lastname@example.org.