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Vet’s Generosity Saves Lives
Pet owners can work off bill with community service

Last year, my husband and I were forced to make a difficult decision regarding our 12-year-old Catahoula, Desoto. He needed back surgery, but at an estimate of $5,000-$7,000 plus post-operative care, we simply could not afford it. I remember crying and screaming in frustration that I could not provide whatever Desoto needed.

After many weeks of deliberation, we ultimately decided that the combination of his advanced age and heart murmur made surgery too risky. That relieved some of the guilt and panic, but the experience got me thinking: How many other people are in the same situation? Here I had been so quick to judge anyone who euthanized their pet because they couldn’t afford the necessary treatment. That person could’ve easily been me. 
Just imagine how veterinarians and their staff feel when delivering such horrible news and knowing that their clients can’t pay for it? Dr. Lori Pasternak decided she never wanted to take no for an answer again. If the pet needed life-saving emergency surgery or treatment, she would make it happen with the client’s help. Earlier this year, she and business partner Jacqueline Morasco opened Helping Hands Affordable Surgical and Dental in Richmond, VA.
The clinic’s sole focus is surgery and dental care at affordable prices. There is no office visit fee or general exam fee. Instead, there is a $5 fee per procedure that is collected for a Good Citizen Fund that goes toward others in need. Clients are asked to devote one hour of community service to Helping Hands or other local pet-related charities for every $10 of their bill. This gives pet owners a chance to pay it back and maintain their dignity.
Has a vet or other animal care professional ever gone out of their way to help you when times were tough?


Julia Kamysz Lane, owner of Spot On K9 Sports and contributing editor at The Bark, is the author of multiple New Orleans travel guides, including Frommer’s New Orleans Day by Day (3rd Edition). Her work has also appeared in The New York Times Magazine, Poets and Writers and Publishers Weekly.

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Submitted by Kay | December 6 2010 |

You know just last week I was thinking about something like this. With multiple dogs the bills can really mount up. Pet insurance also is quite expensive for multiple dogs as well and doesn't cover many things. While banking the premium is a good idea, I'm not sure that would be any better than just using whatever savings you might have....which might be exhausted quickly.
So I was wondering if a group of dog owners could get together and self insure, like many companies do. I don't know anything about insurance so that might not be feasible or cost effective, but I thought it might be worth looking into. Maybe even a veterinary practice could self insure their clients? Each owner could pay at small monthly fee, $5 or $10 and/or a small fee could be added to each bill to be added to the fund. Then the practice would 'insure' certain procedures or a portion or percentage of every procedure. That would probably mean that every pet would get better care and all those needed procedures that many people might put off because of cost.

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