To the Editor:
I always enjoy the MV Times and am especially fond of Michelle Jasny’s weekly column, Visiting Veterinarian. In it, Dr. Jasny covers a broad range of highly relevant topics, and her writing is both intelligent and extremely accessible to the lay reader. I would, though, like to comment on her July 15 piece about canine spinal cord injuries.
Dr. Jasny ends this otherwise excellent column,”We have high hopes Franny will recover completely, thanks to…most of all, Franny’s owners’ willingness to go that extra mile for their dog.” It is wonderful that Franny the greyhound’s owners could afford the huge price of her treatment, but 99.9 percent of equally loving and willing-to-go-the-distance pet owners could never shoulder the herculean expenditure involved on this dog’s behalf.
The closing of this column implies, I am sure unintentionally, that wealthy owners are more willing to get treatment for their pets and are therefore better guardians than those who can’t afford thousands of dollars in vet bills. Nothing could be further from the truth. We all would walk an extra million miles to care for our beloved pets. But when money is added to the formula for care, most of us are hobbled and can’t even take the first step.
Can you think of anything worse than finding out the treatment for your sick or injured pet is beyond your means? Then pile on the assumption that if you really loved your animal you would pay the price. Now the grief you already feel is doused with a huge bucket of guilt. I know that feeling.
My own experience with this grief/guilt mix may be helpful to the reader. Very affordable health care insurance is available from at least three national pet health care companies (I carry insurance from Veterinary Pet Insurance (VPI), out of La Brea, California). For around $300/year, I can now base all of my canine health care decisions solely on what is best for my dog and not what I can afford. Coverage is excellent, you can seek treatment from any vet, and making a claim is extremely easy (our national health care system could learn a lot from a study of this pet model). In short, I highly recommend this solution for every pet owner. We all love our animals dearly, and I think pet insurance goes a long way to even the playing field for both wealthy and not wealthy owners.
Janet ZellerGuardian of doxies Jonathan-Dana and Jazzmin-BeaOak Bluffs