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Medical emergency: is your pet insured?

Adopting a pet is nice but…

Adding a new member to your family can be a beautiful and exciting step. However, it should not be taken lightly. You may have had a dog or cat in the past that lived several years without ever requiring frequent or expensive visits to the vet. That doesn't mean that your new four-legged friend will be free of health concerns.

As a non-profit organization dedicated to saving the lives of sick and injured cats and dogs, we have seen many cases where the bill has turned out to be much more expensive than expected. Just like the cost of medicine for humans – which we hardly see thanks to RAMQ – veterinary medicine can be very expensive. Urinary blockages, which are more common in cats than dogs, have led to many surrenders in clinics. Owners, not being financially prepared to cover a large bill, prefer to abandon their animal in a clinic or opt for euthanasia, which is often much more affordable.

However, we are currently in a period where shelters are overflowing, and resources are very limited. Without any possibility of care, these abandoned animals often end up being euthanized, even though their prognosis was very promising. This was the case of a two-year-old husky for whom we were contacted: the poor dog had a diaphragmatic hernia requiring an operation and care approaching eight to ten thousand dollars. Despite our team's willingness to take care of him, we did not have the resources for him. There was only one option left for this husky: euthanasia.

We experience this type of situation almost every day. Few organizations are equipped to take in sick and injured dogs and cats. Not all of these organizations have facilities to house them and must rely on temporary homes to house them while they recover. Unfortunately, there is currently a shortage of families. And donations are hard to come by. As a result, it is becoming routine to turn away these types of cases, forcing families to make the heartbreaking decision to put their pets to sleep, even though they could have had many years ahead of them if they had been able to afford the costs. This sad reality leads us to discuss two of the most fundamental elements that must be taken into account when considering adopting a pet: financial planning and insurance.

Inflation has not spared the veterinary field, and it is now more expensive to cover living expenses and veterinary medicine for our animals. You must be financially prepared to cover a potentially large bill in the event of an illness or injury. However, the costs associated with an illness or injury cannot be anticipated. Some ailments require quick and inexpensive treatment, while others require surgery or lengthy treatment. It is therefore imperative to keep in mind that our pet is not immune to illness or an unfortunate accident.

Having a financial cushion is now essential to give your pet a second chance rather than having to abandon or even euthanize it. If it is not possible to save a few thousand dollars or to take out a bank loan, the second solution is to take out insurance. Pet insurance is becoming increasingly popular in Quebec, and many of our team volunteers use it for their own animals. After all, we all know how important it is to be prepared for anything for our pets, especially when accidents happen so quickly!

Melanie, one of our founding members, chose the Petline insurance offered through Desjardins. After studying the insured's medical file, the insurance company may set exclusions. In the case of Mayday, her now seven-month-old puppy, the exclusions are for any heart problems and ear ailments until November. In general, insurance companies exclude dental problems, herniated discs and ruptured cruciate ligaments for the first six months. However, as long as Mayday has insurance coverage, her mom can be supported financially if something unexpected happens. She was able to receive $639.17 of her $936.02 vet bill after paying her $100 deductible.

Andréanne, one of our volunteers, chose the same insurance for her one-and-a-half-year-old Pomeranian, Bleuet. The little black dog joined her family last September after being taken in by a charity organization. Suffering from two broken front legs as well as foreign objects in his stomach, little Bleuet required a colossal operation to help him get back on his paws. When she decided to adopt him, getting insurance wasn’t even an option for his mom! After reviewing his medical records, the insurance company only excluded dental care in the first six months. In the event of another unforeseen event or illness, the insurer will cover up to $4,000 to support Bleuet's family financially. Sure, insurance requires monthly payments, but it offers peace of mind!

In short, it is a misconception that an animal rarely gets sick. As an organization specialized in this field, we have seen enough cases in which a family had to euthanize or abandon their animal because of a lack of financial resources. In the majority of these cases, the animal could have recovered 100% and lived a long and beautiful life. And in the majority of cases, these animals are euthanized rather than taken into care by organizations due to the lack of resources and government subsidies to support them in their mission.

We strongly recommend that you look into accumulating an emergency fund for your pet AND that you purchase insurance..

For our part, all of the animals we put up for adoption come with 6 weeks of coverage offered by Petsecure, as we believe it is paramount that these animals be able to enjoy a long, happy life, no matter what!

To learn more, take the time to compare pet insurance policies.

Text by Andréanne Boutin, member of Mission Mayday


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