Monday, December 31, 2018

Getting Pets While Not Able to Afford Vet Bills

We've taken in quite a few sick animals lately, so I wanted to touch on this.  Not that I think any of you would do this, but still...

If you want to get a pet, you need to be able to afford basic vet care.

Now, I'm not talking about affording a $1000 vet bill.  However, you should be able to afford to take the animal in, and at minimum, be able to afford that initial vet bill and possibly ending the animal's suffering if the problem is that bad.

The two cases that stuck out were actually both guinea pigs.  The first one was a guinea pig that was passed around several times.  Turns out, Person 1 had the guinea pig and gave it to their cousin, Person 2... we assume because of it's skin (and other?) issues.  Person 2 takes the guinea pig, knowing it has skin issues, while only working one day per week and knowing she cannot afford to take this guinea pig to the vet, and tries to treat these skin issues at home.  I don't know with what, I didn't ask, but my guess would be... anti-dandruff shampoo (as that's what people seem to think will fix all small animal skin issues).  She calls us, turns out she's now had this guinea pig for 1-2 months, has been treating it at home the entire time, and it's only getting worse.  Imagine that.  So she brings him in to us.  Poor thing didn't even have a name, and looked (if he was a dog), he had mange.  Most of his fur missing, what was left was patchy.  All the skin on his body looked crusty / inflamed / itchy and boy was he scratching.  He was dropped off in the evening, and I didn't want to treat him late at night (our first treatment for a skin condition like that would be a blue dawn bath) so I could be sure he would dry off properly, so I gave him some bedding, hay, water, all the things he needed, and left him for the night.  He unfortunately didn't make it through the night.

Whether he passed from stress or another condition secondary to the skin infection, I don't know.  What I do know is that whatever he passed from, he may have had a considerably better chance at life, had people not spent all that time on home treatments (and yes, blue dawn is a home treatment... but might actually work, whereas anti-dandruff shampoo just reduces flakes but doesn't treat anything).  Maybe, maybe not.  Of course, the previous owner called a few days later asking how he was doing, and I had to break the sad news to her.  She wanted to know what he died from, and I told her, I didn't even have a chance to treat him or get him in to see a vet, had the treatment not worked.  It's unfortunate, but I only had a few hours with him.  She had a few months, and while it's not her fault that she didn't have the money to take him to the vet... my personal opinion is that she shouldn't have had him as a pet then.

Second person.  Also calls with sick guinea pigs, has a bonded pair and doesn't want to separate, but can't find anyplace to take them since the one is sick, and has something going on with it's back and it's eye.  For sure, this one was using anti-dandruff shampoo, as she brought that with.  She said it looked like it was getting better, but she wasn't sure, and of course... she had no money to take them to the vet.  So, we welcome in Rain and Star.  Rain is the one with the fungus, on her face and back.  I did take pics, shown below.  The pic of her back doesn't quite accurately show the extent, as I was holding her with one hand and taking the pic with the other, but it is about a quarter-sized patchy spot that looks like it was scratched (or something?) until it bled.

I covered her spots with blu-kote, which is an antiseptic and anti-fungal... Rain has now been treated twice, and for sure her back is improving, but her face will take more time.  Fungus has an easier time getting started on the face, as the area around the eyes / nose / mouth provide a nice wet environment in which it can take hold and thrive, so those areas will likely take longer to treat.

The people got these guinea pigs from a pet store.  Guinea pigs are what, $35ish each at the pet store?  So they could afford a new cage, two guinea pigs... all that... but not vet care.  Also, I should mention... neither guinea pig person brought in a cage or anything with their guinea pigs, except the second person did bring in the anti-dandruff shampoo.  Usually when people don't bring in a cage and whatnot, that's so they can sell the stuff and recoup their money.  That's fine, don't get me wrong... but again... they're getting the pet and the first sign of a problem, passing it off to someone else, with nothing but the animal itself.  No food to switch over, no cage, no nothing.  

If this upsets you (that I think you should be able to afford the vet if you get a pet), I'm sorry, but in both of these instances, these guinea pigs had relatively minor problems that would NOT have cost a fortune at the vet, but since these people couldn't (or wouldn't... who knows) afford a vet visit...the one unfortunately passed and the other pair is here.  Since they are young, I am sure they will find a great home as soon as Rain is better, but that's beside the point.  They never should have been here to begin with. 

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