My father’s world/rock/child is very ill. No one knows why as vet care is currently far beyond my dad’s means.*
The dog, a ~7yo, 5lb Chi named Ricky, has suddenly lost significant weight and is desperately itchy with noticeable hair loss. He used to be a real chunk now he's all bones. Dad reports appetite is same as always. The coat is greasy and dramatically thin. He needs to see a vet to determine why he is wasting away and how to stop it; then to stop him destroying his skin with scratching.
Are there low-income vet services in Maryland? The most relevant thing I found was Helping Hands in Richmond. I know Ricky’s teeth are rotten: several need extraction. I’m told he has previous Lyme’s diagnosis.
Can I publicly fundraise? How? Are there pet-oriented fundraisers akin to Joe Corbi’s or Yankee Candle? I missed the Christmas opportunity. Would local pet businesses participate like a restaurant sponsoring one night of proceeds benefitting a baseball team?
I have skills like writing, light grooming and training, sitting. I can make tug toys/leashes, crate covers, t-shirts, and treats with some upfront expense. I fear the work up for diagnosis (bloodwork, stool, urine, skin scraping) is beyond my immediate means without risking my pets' emergency fund.
I suck at asking for money. Growing up poor, any perceived handout, generosity, or sympathy undoes me. The dog needs help. How do I do this? Paypal account? Open a new bank account to link it to? I want to be 100% transparent. Does Ricky need a diagnosis first? Do I include my father’s struggles in the story/request for funds? How do I go about this?
*Many believe such a person should relinquish the pet because emergencies inevitably happen. I understand. My dad does his best and has miraculously kept a roof over both their heads when the previous owner found pet-friendly rentals too inconvenient. Ricky is his world and will not be separated until death parts them. I don’t want that death to come prematurely -and slowly- due to lack of resources.
Last edited by Bicoastal; Feb. 4, 2013 at 02:55 PM.
Reason: Updates as of 2/2/13
My local (and amazing) animal shelter/humane society has an on-site clinic and will offer treatment in such situations: their main goal is to keep animals in their homes, not take them out and then deal with having to place them. I would contact local places to see if they can help/know anyone who can.
It would also not be a bad idea for your father to drive around to local vet clinics with the dog to see if someone will help him out with a payment plan and reduced costs. I think it really needs to be done in person, with the dog, for the best impact...too easy for people to just refuse over the phone.
Does your father have any income at all? He will likely qualify for at least a little bit of CareCredit, which he can then pay back.
And I understand your disclaimer, but will you really watch the dog slowly die/suffer as opposed to suggesting that your father give it up to a humane society, if that becomes the only option for getting the dog the medical treatment it needs? It might be time for a serious sit-down talk with your father and yourself if that's the case, about selfishness when it comes to securing good care.
While you're fundraising, you might try a dietary allergen elimination trial.
That means a novel protein source, and followed religiously. No treats or table scraps that might be the source of a food allergy.
"It's like a Russian nesting doll of train wrecks."--CaitlinandTheBay
I am not in a position to do much due to my own veterinary bills, but if you PM me, I would be happy to pay for some initial exam/workup costs directly to the veterinarian. I think it would be wise to find a good vet, not a cut rate one.
A good horseman doesn't have to tell anyone...the horse already knows.
um, have you taken the dog to a vet? tell the vet up front funds are limited; but a simple look might be all that is required, and really isn't that expensive. Wouldn't you feel kind of silly if you do all this fund-raising and it turns out to be a $60 vet visit fee + $20 for some cheap antibiotics and a suggestion to feed a different food? Besides, time might be very important in helping the dog.
tell your dad it's his holiday gift from you.
So I'd take the dog to a vet FIRST. If the vet says the dog needs a workup at this $$ amount, at least you know what to aim for.
But it may be much cheaper than you think.
I am not in a position to do much due to my own veterinary bills, but if you PM me, I would be happy to pay for some initial exam/workup costs directly to the veterinarian.
Wow what a wonderful offer. Everyone is right that an exam/diagnosis is needed first. Ricky has been like this for many weeks so is not about to keel over dead: energy level normal, gums normal, respiration normal, appetite normal.
Originally Posted by wendy
um, have you taken the dog to a vet? tell the vet up front funds are limited; but a simple look might be all that is required, and really isn't that expensive. Wouldn't you feel kind of silly...
I hope wendy is right. This thought has repeatedly crossed my mind. I hope the tears and sleepless nights are silly.
I booked an apt for Friday, Jan 4 at 9:30 at Calvert Animal Hospital. It is a solid 1hr away. Their prices are way cheaper than any in NOVA. I know the practice well and trust the vets.
After paying for standard heartworm test in Arlington for my pups, I am scared of what the total will be for CBC and chem panel. Oh well. I have to start somewhere and that is with a diagnosis. My trip to Ireland ain't happenin'.
Can you COTHers help me decide what needs to be tested at the initial exam?
To answer other questions, my dad has no relationship with any vet. He used to when employed, a home owner, horse owner, etc. He is now, finally and proudly, employed part-time. My dad has his own major health issues plus financial issues: I am sure I am viewing the dog as a metaphor for my dad.
I take Ricky when something seems off and have kept him in ok food and heartworm preventative as well as I can with the little info I receive. It wasn't until I saw Tricky Lil Ricky that I knew anything was amiss. My dad tries to protect me from worrying.
Ricky has never been hardy.
I have attempted to do the food trial but my dad has a 0% compliance rate. I'll try again. Vet stated, when I took him in maybe last spring, Ricky prob has flea dermatitis and his obesity is a good enough reason to tell dad it's a food allergy. Vet said the biggest problem was the teeth which could lead to a systemic infection.
Food trial is about 6 weeks, right? been awhile since I've had to do it. I would love to house Ricky myself for those weeks to 1) control diet 2) observe him 3) treat or take him to vet with ease. That requires landlord's consent and additional payment to dogwalker.
I would expect about a 35-40 dollar exam, about 80 bucks for a cbc/chem panel, another 20 for a heart worm test, 15 for a fecal, and probably something more for a thyroid check.
Wow, I need to start using your vet. That's cheap!
All 4 vet's I've used (2 here in NoVA, 2 in MS) charge ~$55+ for an exam, I paid $120 for CBC/chem, and $30+ for a fecal, and got a heartworm test for $30 at a discounted rate.
OP- I would be straight forward with the vet and tell them what your budget is. Ask about a payment plan, even if they advertise as payment required in full as some vets will make exceptions. Sit down with them after the initial exam and look at cost vs likelihood of it finding the cause. If he has bad teeth, that would be my first step, along with a CBC. Go from there if that doesn't bring some clues.
"People ask me 'will I remember them if I make it'. I ask them 'will you remember me if I don't?'"
CBC/Chemistry/UA/heartworm would be a likely starting point for trying to get to the bottom of what is going on. I would guess total cost of around $250. Sometimes some of the reference laboratories will offer bundle packaged that represent substantial savings over the individual tests. If the practice does most of their labwork in house, they may not be familiar with those. You can also let them know that any meds which can be scripted out are appreciated.
I wouldn't ask for a payment plan unless you're an established client. None of my colleagues will do payment plans for new clients, we have all been burned too many times. A friend of mine has over 40k in accounts receivable from clients who promised to pay and didn't.
Sorry to hear about your situation! Sucks when you want the best for your pets, but finances limit what you can do.
Start with an exam, and go from there. Vet may see something that may not warrant a full chem pannel (ie. palpable abdonimal mass, mange, tooth abscess) so I wouldnt necessarily think that doing these tests is going to give you an answer. Sometimes something as simple as a urine specific gravity can give you a likely diagnosis. NEVER wrong to get a baseline blood pannel, but just go in with an open mind and discuss with your vet the best use of the limited funds.
All of the tests recommended are good places to start. Based on the symptoms, especially the itchiness and hairloss, I'd also suspect food issues/possible allergies. Those might be resolved with a simple dietary change. What food is the dog on? I've seen a substantial difference in the health of animals depending on if they are fed high vs low quality food. I would try to switch him over to a grain-free diet and slowly start an elimination diet from there to test for allergies. http://www.dogfoodadvisor.com/ is a great place to look up foods and see where they stand in terms of quality.
As for the fundraising, you'll probably want a clearer picture regarding what your working with before starting a big fundraising campaign. See if you can find a vet who will work with some sort of a payment plan. I've personally used http://www.chipin.com/ to fundraise for necessary equipment for my service dog. It works really well, and is very user friendly. Let me know if you need help setting something like that up.
Last edited by mandimai; Dec. 27, 2012 at 10:26 PM.
Reason: forgot link
Initial Exam $40
Heartworm test $40
Fecal test $16
12m heartworm preventative $56
This excludes routine vaccs my dad just told me Ricky is "due for in 2013."
This morning when I told Dad I'm taking the dog to the vet he got upset. Bad timing on my part as I had just got his phone turned back on (so I could talk to him about Ricky). My unsolicited financial assistance hurts his pride and sends a message I believe he can't take of himself.
He tried to talk me out of it because he knows, with my own medical expenses (back disability), I don't have any spare change. Dad said Ricky looks better. Than two days ago? ...that a sweater caused the severe scratching and widespread hair loss. I hope so. We're still going to the vet.
If he is due for vaccines, there are low cost clinics that go to Petco's in NoVA (and maybe MD?). We normally use our vet for vaccines but I have used the low cost clinic in the past as I was short on cash and it was about half of what my normal vet would charge. I think it was called luvmypet? My one experience with them was good- the people were considerate of my nervous dog and took their time with him. They have different packages so that you can pick and choose what vaccines are necessary/you want. Since my guy is old, I only did the state required vaccines + bordetella. Like I said, I prefer to use my normal vet for things like that even though it is more expensive, but if you are really short on funds it is an available option.
"People ask me 'will I remember them if I make it'. I ask them 'will you remember me if I don't?'"