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Help a Reader: Financial Aid Charities for Dogs Needing Surgery

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?