There’s a growing division in our country between those who have wealth and those who don’t. That is very clear when you look at what people are able to spend on their pets. It is estimated by the American Pet Products Association that in 2018 pet parents spent 72.56 billion dollars on their fur-babies with an increase of almost 3 billion estimated for this year. That figure includes the purchase of animals, veterinary costs, food, toys and other services. Amazing, huh?
Advances in veterinary care has come with a hefty price tag. Vets can now offer MRIs, organ transplants and more. Of course not all of us can afford it. The rise of veterinary care insurance is one way to be able to offer our pets more care with a modest, monthly fee. At the shelter we often see the other end of the spectrum, animals that have basically had no medical care ever. There are still people who would never think about taking their animal in to see a doctor, even when they are in failing health. They say that death is natural and just let their pets waste away.
Of course, there is a big difference between being able to pay and willing to pay. Sometimes the
people whose pets are in bad condition could certainly afford to do more. But they don’t, because their pets aren’t a priority or they grew up without these options and don’t believe that animals are worth that kind of money. Then there are those who mortgage the house to try and get another six months with a beloved pet. This is a very personal matter until it becomes a neglect case.
My husband’s business (C & D Pet Products) is making cat furniture and outdoor cat enclosures. A basic 6’ x 6’ x 6’ enclosure is $614.99 and when people call with an inquiry he gets one of two reactions; “Oh! That’s a lot!” or “Really? That’s so reasonable!” Nothing in between. He is currently working on a custom enclosure for a couple in the East Bay that will end up costing $6,000! What a lucky pair of cats!
The rest of us are somewhere between the two extremes. I think most people might not take their animals to the vet for routine annual exams, especially if they have a multi-pet household, but would take one in if there were an obvious sign of illness. We might treat the symptoms but not pay for a lot of diagnostics. I just heard a story though that makes me rethink that approach. A person had a cat that suffered from weepy irritated eyes his whole life. The person did what the vet recommended and bought various eye drops and tried different diets in an attempt to clear up the obviously uncomfortable condition to no avail. When the cat was 11 years old, they moved and had to find a new veterinarian. The first thing the doctor pushed for was a culture to see what they were up against. All along they had assumed the cat had herpes and treated accordingly but the test showed a different bacteria that cleared up quickly when the cat was given the appropriate antibiotic. Eleven years of suffering and hundreds of dollars spent treating symptomatically versus paying for one test and getting the correct medication. Hmmm?
Where do you draw the line for your pet? Do you buy toys and scratching posts? Take them in to the vet routinely? Or just for emergencies? Do you feel guilty if you can’t pay for the extremes in veterinary care? There’s no right answer!
“Get Them Back Home” Campaign – Every lost pet should have a way to get back home. FREE pet ID tag and a back-up microchip are available to all residents of Rohnert Park and Cotati. No appointment necessary, just come by the shelter during our regular open hours: Wed. 1-6:30; Thurs.-Fri.-Sat. 1-5:30; Sun. 1-4:30.
Fix-it Clinics – Free spay and neuters for cats; and $60 dog surgeries (up to 80 lbs.) for low-income Rohnert Park and Cotati residents. Call 588-3531 for an appointment.
Mickey Zeldes is the supervisor at the Rohnert Park Animal Shelter. She can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.