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Help a Reader: Financial Aid Charities for Dogs Needing Surgery

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As the owner of an older dog, our beagle Tobey, we know how expensive surgery can be for our four legged friends. I can’t begin to imagine how difficult it is when the dogs get older and when their owners have trouble paying for their care.

When I asked for readers to email me their problems, one stood out both for its length and because it was a subject we could see ourselves facing. The email from Linda is quite long, and I included it below, but the summary is that one of their Yorkies, who is ten, developed cataracts and needs surgery. Her husband is on disability and she recently lost her job and she doesn’t know how she’ll pay for it.

Here’s her email:

I just want you to know that I have been following you for several months now and the information you forward is extremely informational to me. As you said, you or someone out there may be able to help me. I have 2 Yorkies (brother and sister). They turned 10 in January.

The boy has developed cataracts in both eyes. He is truly the love of our lives. He is so to speak “a true watch dog.” He developed the first one about a year ago and because of our very limited finances (husband is disabled) and I lost my job as a legal assistant 3 weeks ago, we never pursued the surgery thing. Not only is it very expensive but he had the one eye and is was doing o.k.

Well, about 6 weeks ago, like overnight, he woke up with another cataract on the other eye. We were devastated. We took him for a surgery consultation ($500.00 later) and then they told us $4,000 for the surgery. I attempted to get my insurance I have on the dogs (care credit) increased, but they denied me. I was still working then. So, I asked the doctor if there was anyway they could do one eye. Yes. But $2,500 for one eye. Well, now that I am unemployed, there is no way of having the surgery done. Do you know anyone that I might contact that could possibly help us?

Like I said, he is a wonderful little dog and if we could give him sight in one eye, I know he could be like he used to be. Everything has been done as far as testing and only one blood test and an x-ray needs to be done with his regular vet and he will be good to go. He is so pitiful right now. He is beginning to learn his environment inside the house, but he will not go outside unless we carry him. He’s very afraid. I live in Brandon, Florida and in the next 60-90 days I will be locating to Huntington, WV. This is my 4th lay-off in 8 years.

I’m 63 and I truly believe it may be out with the old and in with the young. But, then again no way to prove that. I have applied for several positions that I am qualified for or more than qualified for, but no response so far. I have a sibling in WV that can help us until we get established. My husband used to have his own business, a small contracting business and he was in a horrific car accident in 2003 (no fault of his own). No insurance on the other side.

We lost everything in 2005 because of his disabling injuries in addition to 2 strokes that left him partially paralyzed on the left side. The house we live in we have been renting for 8-1/2 years. So, needless to say, we have to do what we have to do. What a roller coaster ride. And, I truly know how hard it is to keep your head above water. We used every dime we had saved for more than 15 years just to survive after his accident.

But, after 2 years–gone.

I know what it’s like to go to the Church for food and to stand in line at the State and County entities pleading for some kind of assistance. I know there are thousands of people struggling just like us, but I pray there is someone that will hear my plea to guide me and hopefully get help for my little boy dog Max.

The only positive thing about this situation is that having cataracts can lead to blindless but they aren’t painful. Cataracts can slip out of place, block ducts, and lead to glaucoma. It’s generally a bad thing but it’s not as acute as a broken leg. That’s really the only positive thing out of this story.

As for financial aid, there are charities that exist to help. Many are regional and most only help in life threatening situations (I don’t know if cataracts apply here), and some are breed specific. Many also take some time to get through the application process. Here are a few I’d see:

Does anyone have any suggestions for what Linda should do?

{ 12 comments, please add your thoughts now! }

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12 Responses to “Help a Reader: Financial Aid Charities for Dogs Needing Surgery”

  1. lostAnnfound says:

    See if there is a veterinarian school you can get to and contact them to see if they have a program that can help you. The one in our region (Tufts) has three teaching hospitals and a low-cost clinic that is based on financial means.

    • Linda Bonnell says:

      Dear lostAnnfound,
      I apologize for not getting back with you in a timely manner. I must have been on another planet when Mr. Wang sent out my email to the readers due to the fact I found out today that I had replies/responses. I emailed Mr. Wang to ask how I find out if anyone replied and he said to look under Responses. How very ignorant of me. I had no idea. Again, thank you for the lead to a veterinarian school in hopes they have a program that can help me. Since I will be locating to Huntington, WV on 4/3/13, I will wait until I get there to start my search. We just can’t stay here any longer. I haven’t landed a job and no more money for anything. Thank you for being such a concerned individual. There are still lovely individuals such as you left here. If I may, I would like to stay in touch to keep you updated.

      With kind regards,

  2. Martha says:

    Another option is to call around to your local vets and see what prices they would offer. Also try to offer to pay cash (even if this is not feasible) to see if they would give a discount. Then take the lowest price and see if you vet will match it. Or try a payment plan with the vet’s office? Good luck Linda! My heart and prayers go out to you and your family.

    • Linda Bonnell says:

      My dear Martha,
      Thank you ever so much for your kind reply and information regarding contacting local vets. I had just mentioned to one of the other readers that I was so sorry that it took so long to respond; however, I was not privy to the fact that replies/responses were at the bottom of the email. I was and am so embarrassed. Mr. Wang directed me to where I could find responses. Since my time in Florida has almost expired (I can’t find employment)and any and all monies have exhausted, I will be locating to Huntington, WV on 4/3/13. I will wait until then to get my action plan on track.

      Again, thank you for your kindness. I would like very much to keep in touch, if I may.

      With kind regards,

  3. Juliana says:

    So sorry to hear of your problems. I believe the ASPCA (ttp:// does a sliding scale based on income and oftentimes some services are free for those without income. Good luck and all the best.

    • Linda Bonnell says:

      Dear Juliana,

      I apologize for not getting back with you in a timely manner. I was and still continue to be embarrassed due to the fact I did not know where to find replies/responses. Mr. Wang was kind enough to point them out to me. This is the reason for the long delay in thanking you for your concern, your information regarding the ASPCA and your kind words of encouragement. Since I will be locating to Huntington, WV on 4/3/13, I will wait until I get there to start my search with the ASPCA. We just can’t stay here any longer. I haven’t landed a job and no more money for anything. Thank you for being such a concerned individual. It makes my heart sore to know there are still lovely individuals such as you that remain. If I may, I would like to stay in touch to keep you updated.

      With kind regards,

  4. Stephanie says:

    I would get a plea out just as you’ve done and flat out ask for donations. I had care of a foster dog last year that had a “sore” over her eye. I took her to the vet and he did his best but we then were referred to an eye specialist, Dr. Sullivan, Animal Eye Clinic in Seattle. Dr. Sullivan knew we had a foster animal and ironic as it may be, my husband and I are in similar circumstances as you and yours. He’s disabled with MS, had 2 strokes and I had been laid off too. Dr Sulllivan said he would be the first to donate and took $150 off the surgery and gave me a quote and said if it went over he would write off the rest. NOW the rest was up to me to raise the money. She had a spindle cell scarcoma and it had to be removed, no choice (it wound up taking twice!) I have a small farm and sell eggs. I contacted my egg people, my friends and one of my friends spread the word and posted it on Facebook for me. It was a long ordeal but worth every bit and you can’t imagine, but $25 here and there added up. One of my egg ladies who had bought for a period of time donated $500, that was a very happy day. It’s for Max, ask for his sake. People can be very generous and have beautiful hearts. I put up flyers and had others put them up too. I sent out emails with her picture. Good luck to you. We are now trying to keep our home and keep moving on and raise our dogs here and rescue animals. I do understand.
    All the best to you and Max. Write an article for the local paper, post a flyer at your vets office…. get going,

  5. Megan E. says:

    There is a fantastic vet teaching hospital in Florida ( you could contact them to see if they have any special programs going on right now.

    I would also suggest what others said – get the word out and see who can help in the community – sometimes foster groups in the area, animal shelters, etc have funds available.

    Finally, if you can’t get it fixed, it’s not the end of the world. While sad, he can still survive just fine without eyesight. You mentioned a second dog – try to help that dog become a “companion” and guide dog to your boy.

    good luck!

  6. Robin says:

    I would be happy to donate a small amount, as I’m sure other readers would too. Can we send it directly to her? If so, can you please e-mail me her e-mail address and I can correspond with her directly to get a check to her. If not, could we send it to you to get to her?

  7. Janette says:

    I would like to help Linda by sending a donation to help her dog get surgery for cataracts.

  8. jim says:

    K – since no one else is going to say this here, I will. I’m very sorry for all that you are dealing with. I really am. We faced a similar situation a few years ago – only it was with 2 Golden Retrievers. The first one we had to put down ’cause she was in pain and so old that it was a merciful thing to do. Then when our male Golden started having the same problems the Vet (who LOVED those dogs almost as much as we did) gave us a “come to Jesus” talk and basically told us not to put him thru the same thing. It damn near killed us to do so, but we did put him down – to this day it makes me cry. We LOVED those gorgeous, faithful dogs.

    We damn near jeopardized our youngest’s college funding with all the medical bills we paid for on the dogs. I know this is a harsh reality, but you are not in any financial position to spend any more $ on them. So unless and until you get tons of donations to help you out – do everyone a favor and put the dog down.

    Sorry – I know this is terrible to hear and incredibly painful, but that’s the fact of the matter. I absolutely adore dogs – but not at the expense of jeopardizing my family’s financial well-being.

    Ironically, I had a dog named Max when I was a kid who had cataracts. Parents paid for the surgery on one eye – but the poor thing continued to run into things (and hurt himself) until he finally just took to staying in his bed for the most part. When his other eye went out, he was very decrepid on many levels and it was then that he went to doggie-heaven.

    I’m so sorry. I feel your pain.

  9. Julie says:

    Crowdfunding is a good way to get much needed financial aid. There are several that I use: (under $1000) (using currently)

    Do a BING search for “List of Crowdfunding Sites” There are at least 13 for you to choose from as an individual and three of them are pet-centered.

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