WMBD/WYZZ TV (courtesy: WFLD) -- Caring for pets, especially when they're sick, can be costly. Some people love their pets enough to clean out their entire savings, but for those who don't have that luxury, there are other options.
Amy Wilson was desperate. Her seven year old toy schnauzer pebbles was seriously ill with a kidney ailment and needed expensive surgery. Amy's vet told her the price tag for the surgery would be in the 5000 to 6000 range.
Amy, recently laid off, and credit cards maxed out, had nowhere near that amount of cash.
Amy says, "I was crying and it was heartbreaking."
So she turned to the internet. Through her myspace page she reached out to pet lovers around the world asking for help. And almost immediately, the money came pouring in from places she'd never been, from people she doesn't know.
Amy says a Hurricane Katrina victim who was living in her truck donated five dollars. She says another woman in
Amazingly, Amy raised the money and pebbles got her operation. But there's got to be an easier way, right?
Linda Estrada runs the Animal Welfare League in south suburban Chicago Ridge. Linda says, "We are not free but we try to help the people as much as possible for the animals' sake.
On average, the price for care is about one third what it might cost a pet owner practically anywhere else. Linda says they've never been busier: "I would say two years ago people would say 'hold tight I'm gonna run to the bank and get some money out of my savings'. Now, they go in a corner and are like 'ok now what do we do? Do we pay our rent? Do we pay this?"
Pet owner James Gladden says uses the Welfare League’s service, "Like me, through the economy, lost my job so now I'm under unemployment and they do have discounts for people that are getting unemployment insurance so that's why I brought my cats here to receive their shots and stuff."
If you really can't afford to pay anything, the Animal Welfare League will let you turn over your animal to them and then they'll pay for the medical procedures and treatments. In the end you could ultimately adopt your animal back, but at a much higher rate than usual adoptions.
Jordan Matyas from the Illinois Humane Society says, "The one thing you don't want to do is ignore the problem. If it's a simple infection that you can treat and it's just going to cost a couple, $20… $30… $40, and you let it go eventually you cold be looking at something more serious."
The Illinois Director of the Humane Society also suggests asking your vet hard questions. Maytas says, "Make sure the tests are really needed and make sure to ask also, if there a different drug that's cheaper. Sometimes there are antibiotics where one will cost $90 and the other will cost ten."
The Human Society's website also contains an entire pet financial aid section with list of national and state organizations that offer financial assistance to pet owners in need.
As for Amy, she lives in constant fear that pebbles might need yet more care she can't afford. Amy says, “I'll find a way. One way or another I’ll find a way."