A mum battling the rising cost of living was forced to make the devastating decision to put her dog down, after not being able to afford a potentially lifesaving procedure.
Teigyn Jane, 25, happily rescued Apollo three years ago from a woman on Facebook, only for her and her young daughters to have to say goodbye to him on May 10 when the discs slipped in his back legs, leading to paralysis.
That afternoon when the Central Coast woman heard her British bulldog suddenly “yelp in pain” she immediately called several vets — who weren’t available — only to call animal hospital SASH in Tuggerah. She says she was told a consultation fee of $290 had to be paid first, as Ms Jane did not have pet insurance.
“I said, ‘Are you serious? My dog can’t walk. He’s in pain’,” she told Yahoo News Australia. Only having $100 on her, she managed to track down the rest a few hours later from Apollo’s past owner, who kindly gave her the sum. Ms Jane was upset Apollo experienced prolonged pain while desperately trying to track down a vet, and then money for the fee, before finding out about other payment options.
She claimed the vet said there was a “40 per cent chance the injury would happen again” with the breed if he was just given antibiotics for pain management, with the alternatives being a $15,000 emergency spinal surgery or putting him down.
“I just don’t have the money [for the surgery] because I’m a single mum with two kids. I’m currently living with my mum paying her $200 a week to live in her shed, as I can’t afford a house for myself or kids due to the cost of living,” she said.
By making the tough decision to put her pet dog down, she experienced “the hardest day of [her] life”.
Cost of living statistics
Aussies are spending almost $2000 extra a year on groceries
37% of Aussies are struggling to pay their home loan
Rents rose by an average of 10% in capital cities in 2022
6% of tenants admitted to lying about their income to secure a rental
1 in 3 Australians have asked friends or family for financial help in the past 12 months.
Source: Finder Cost of Living Report 2023
SASH respond to claims
The SASH clinic in Tuggerah confirmed “like all vets, welfare is [their] top priority”. “As such, SASH will always assist when an emergency case presents at one of our hospitals, regardless of the owners’ personal circumstances,” a spokesman told Yahoo News Australia.
“At SASH, when a patient presents at one of our hospitals, we communicate with the pet’s owner the initial consultation fee, which is a flat rate 24/7, all-year round. Following an initial consult and assessment, the vet discusses treatment and payment options with the pet’s owner thoroughly.”
What can pet owners can do if they’re cash-strapped?
Over the lifespan of a dog, pet owners spend more than $25,000 on average, according to the Australian Veterinary Association.
For those experiencing cost-of-living hardships and wanting to still be able to take care of their pet, payment plans for vet appointments can be offered through VetPay, according to RSPCA NSW. While not-for-profits like Vets for Compassion can also help with alleviating the suffering of animals.
Generic brand medications at pharmacies and even supermarkets are also recommended, which are often a fraction of the price of other brands. Lastly, although difficult during a cost-of-living crisis, purchasing pet insurance can also help minimise vet and hospital costs.
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