When hard times hit, many dog owners are forced to make painful choices about the financial viability of pet ownership. Some dogs are surrendered to shelters and others are deprived of needed veterinary care. In many communities, however, there are programs and organisations that can help low-income pet owners care for their pets. Low-cost veterinary services and food supplies can help families and the dogs they love stay together.
Low cost spay and neuter
Low-cost spay and neuter clinics offer those procedures at reduced costs. Having your dog "fixed" does more than prevent them from breeding: Neutered male dogs are less likely to roam and display territorial aggression, and spayed females are at reduced risk of certain types of cancer. Spaying or neutering pets also reduces the strain on already-overcrowded shelters, where in the U.S. more than 4 million dogs and cats are euthanised every year.
Vaccination clinics can provide all of the essential vaccines for your dog without the costly office visit charges incurred by a trip to the veterinarian. Rabies, Corona, Bordetella, and DHLLP (Distemper, Hepatitis, Parvo, Parainfluenza and Leptospirosis) vaccines often are available at convenient locations across the country. Heartworm and parasites tests and microchipping are also available at such clinics.
Cancer and medical treatments
Working with veterinarians across the country, many charitable organisations accept donations and arrange treatments to help pet owners afford veterinary care and services that would normally be out of reach. Some are devoted to cancer care; others support orthopaedic procedures or life-threatening illnesses.
Many community food banks will accept pet food to help their patrons feed their pets, and local humane societies may be able to provide a list of sources for low-cost or free pet food.
Veterinary teaching hospitals
Veterinary teaching hospitals may offer treatments to indigent patients at reduced rates. Services can be discounted between 20 and 50 per cent, and some provide pharmaceuticals at cost. In some cases, service dogs are treated at no charge.
Other funding options
If you are unable to afford treatment for your pet, consider posting a wish for funding online. There are websites available that will help you design a request (one example is fundable.com -- see the link in Resources below). Be clear and concise when posting your request.
Volunteer or donate
If you are fortunate enough to have resources to share, consider volunteering or donating to a worthy pet cause. What may seem like a small amount of time or money may make a big difference in someone's life.