The Daily News has a great article today on low cost pet care through city programs. This
is the link, and the text is below.
City programs can help put a leash on pet-care expenses
BY NICOLE LYN PESCE
DAILY NEWS STAFF WRITER
Thursday, March 19th 2009, 4:00 AM
The last place pet owners want to cut corners is on health care. But with medical expenses taking the biggest bite out of an animal lover’s budget, more New Yorkers are putting off trips to the vet.
“We’re seeing pets whose visits have been postponed for financial reasons,” says Dr. Neil Shaw, chief medical officer of NYC Veterinary Specialists. “But now their problems are more serious and more expensive to care for.”
Vets recommend prevention and early detection as the most cost-effective prescription for pet health. “Routine screenings can pick things up early,” says Dr. Michael Farber, chief of staff at West Chelsea Veterinary Hospital.
But if you can’t afford your own health care, it’s hard to rationalize forking over hundreds for your dog. Thankfully, you don’t have to. The city’s host of free and low-priced clinics can save your pet’s life at little cost.
Low-income pet owners with proof of using public assistance qualify for the ASPCA’s free mobile spay/neuter clinics. Just bring your public assistance proof and photo ID cards, and the first 25 pets each day receive spaying/neutering, rabies vaccination, distemper vaccine, E-collar, microchipping and nail trimming. Those without proof of public assistance pay a $75 fee, but that covers all the services above. Call (212) 876-7700, ext. 4319, or visit www.aspca.org/aspca-nyc for locations.
THE HUMANE SOCIETY OF NEW YORK
The Animal Mukti Free Spay/Neuter Program covers 100% of spay/neuter costs for low-income pet owners (with proof of assistance) at the Humane Society of New York. The Humane Society also spays/ neuters all pit bulls for free, since they are a harder breed to get adopted. Otherwise, their hospital offers low-cost spaying/ neutering for pets starting at $25 for cats and $40 for dogs. The organization also fully or partially funds needy cases, such as elderly or disabled owners with severely ill pets under the Animal Emergency Appeal program. They accept these on a case-by-case basis, but are very willing to work with strapped pet owners in critical cases. 306 E. 59th St., (212) 752-4842, or visit www.humanesocietyny.org.
ANIMAL CARE & CONTROL
For owners who fret that they can no longer afford their pet, check out the AC &C’s Safety Net Program, which offers discounted temporary pet boarding and foster homes while your family works through its crisis, plus free guidance for pet-related landlord/tenant issues. NYC residents with restricted incomes also qualify for lower-cost veterinary care. Call (917) 468-2938 or go to www.nycacc.org/safetynet.htm.
MAYOR’S ALLIANCE FOR NYC’S ANIMALS
The Mayor’s Alliance stages low-cost microchipping clinics for cats and dogs for just $25 (versus $40 elsewhere) throughout the year, usually with Maddie’s Pet Adoption Festivals. And through the Maddie’s Spay/Neuter Project, New Yorkers with proof of public assistance (welfare, Medicaid, Medicare, SSI, disability, food stamps or public housing) can spay/neuter their pets by appointment for just $10 per cat and $20 per dog. Call (212) 404-3203 or visit www.animalalliancenyc.org.
The chain of pet stores features low-cost vaccination packages. A complete workup for a new puppy (including rabies, deworming and distemper vaccine) runs just $64, or $57 for your new kitten’s workup, while a rabies shot alone can run $30 to $40 at the vet. Updating your dog or cat’s shots is also just $49 and $42, respectively. Their clinics include licensed vets, micro-chipping, feline leukemia and canine heartworm testing and more. Visit www.petco.com for available stores.
VET PAYMENT PLANS
If your pet needs a medical procedure that you can’t afford, swallow your pride and explain your dilemma to the vet. “Most veterinarians are used to discussing finances and will be willing to devise options or plans that out of necessity will fit different budgets,” says Dr. Neil Shaw.
“The key is not to avoid the vet, but to talk to a vet regularly so that when a problem occurs, you can discuss your financial status and ask what the options are.”
Dr. Michael Farber discusses payment options with his long-term clients. “We’ll work it out and break it up into a couple of payments so that they can pay it over time,” he says.
Every animal hospital is different, but speak with yours to see what payment plans it offers.
In addition, check out companies like Care Credit, which extends credit to help pay veterinary bills.
“The beautiful thing about veterinary medicine is we can offer a range of options,” Shaw says.
PAY NOW, SAVE LATER
These pet procedures are an investment in both your animal’s health and your financial well-being.
Physicals: Don’t skip your pet’s annual exam, which can pick up on small lumps, limps or abnormalities before they become major surgical problems. “Some tumors start out pretty small and can be removed or analyzed very easily, as opposed to waiting for them to spread,” says Dr. Neil Shaw. A simple office consult and physical exam usually runs between $75 and $90.
Rabies shots: They average $30 to $40. “The rabies shot is required in New York City by law, even for house cats,” says Farber. “So you could be hit with a fine, and that will end up costing a lot more than the shot.”
Beyond the risk of a fine, “Rabies is life-threatening,” says Shaw, “and if your pet bites somebody, and its rabies shots are not up to date, it can mean dramatic consequences.”
Vaccinations for young pets: Puppies and kittens should be vaccinated against disorders ranging from distemper to feline leukemia. However, owners whose pets haven’t missed a shot, yet, can relax if their purse strings are tighter this year.
“If your pet has been vaccinated every year for a number of years, then outside of rabies, the other vaccinations aren’t as crucial because [the pet] has built an immunity over time,” says Shaw.
Spaying/neutering: Besides guarding against unwanted pregnancies and adding to the growing population of homeless animals, fixing your pet makes outdoor dogs and cats less likely to roam and indoor animals less likely to spray — and offers health benefits to all of them.
“There’s next to no chance of them developing mammary cancer later in life, and it reduces the risk of certain [other] types of cancers,” says Shaw.