Why to so many people let pets ruin their financial picture?

momtokaiJuly 21, 2006

I am just curious. So many people find themselves in a financial predicament trying to save pets spending thousands of dollars that they do not have. I understand the emotion; however, they are animals not people. I see this where I work with the people who can least afford to spend that kind of money. I read about it here!

Do most people have an upper limit on their budget for how much they are willing to spend when/if their animal gets sick? By the way, they will all get sick or old eventually and will die.

We have given ourselves an upper limit and we have said no when that limit had been reached. Our dog was sick when we were in Europe with the kids. The vet wanted to operate for $3k to $4k. At first we said yes out of guilt of being gone. Then we got some more sense into us, and we called back and said no.

Yes, we have lost animals. Yes, this is a part of owning pets. They will likely die before you do.

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I know it might be a very difficult concept for some to understand but to some people, there are things that are more important than money.

    Bookmark   July 21, 2006 at 7:05PM
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We share our home with 4 cats, 1 dog, and a bird. Never, ever in my life have I lived without a pet. Never, ever, have I had unrealistic expectations about their health, life span, and my financial responsibilities with respect to them.

I'm a "redneck" when it comes to pets, I'm afraid. I live in a rural area. I let my cats go outdoors. I'm unmoved by the sight of dead rodents and the occasional dead bird on the deck. They go out for a reason... to kill rodents. An occasional bird is part of the bargain.

I've had one cat run over in the road. I've had one attacked by a fox less than 100' from the house. One was already dead, the latter was put to sleep very nearly immediately. He was old, and his kidneys were beginning to fail (they get thin and drink a lot of water) and it was a "no brainer".

I don't believe in prolonging life when the inevitable outcome is simply forstalled. Inject a diabetic cat/dog... not on your life! I do not believe in sustaining life for life's sake. To many that sounds cruel and harsh, but never once have I ever left a pet in the vet.'s office and fled when it was time to euthanize them. EVERY SINGLE TIME the decision has been made they died in my arms.

I don't understand why we aren't permitted to do the same thing for our human family members... but that's a different topic.

Our pets are vaccinated, well fed, cared for, and when their time is up, they go to the happy hunting ground. Simple. (yeah, right).

    Bookmark   July 21, 2006 at 7:35PM
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While approximately 25,000 kids die daily in the world due to too little/bad food, water, miserable (or nil) medical care, almost nil education,, etc.

We North Americans are heavily insulated from the realities of life in much of the world.

Maybe we need to take some lessons from the folks in South Lebanon - who thought that life was getting reasonably normal for them, for a change.

We are not immune from those worldwide troubles.

ole joyful

    Bookmark   July 21, 2006 at 8:31PM
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My mom spent $2,000 on a thyroid procedure for her cat. The cat was 11. They figured it would give the cat another 5 years of life or a fairly normal lifespan for a cat. The procedure has a huge success rate and although the cat was getting toward being a senior, responded well to it. Her boss jokingly told her that she could buy a bunch more cats for what that cost.

Oh, BTW, that was 10 years ago. Yeah, all things die but if we have the technology to keep our furry friends with us for a bit longer (and I'm not talking about expensive procedures that will only prolong imminent death or will not provide a decent quality of life... vets who prey on the emotions of pet owners to rack in the $$ on procedures they know have very little chance of working should be shot) why not do it? If it's just about the money... well, that's your choice. But as I said, to some people money is not the most important thing in the world.

As far as the "starving children in africa" argument, that's one of the oldest red herrings in the book, brought out whenever someone wants to make a point that someone should feel inferior or ashamed about how they choose to spend their money.

    Bookmark   July 21, 2006 at 10:17PM
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momtokai is making a different point, though (I think!)

Seniors go without medicine so that Fluffy gets the best of everything.
Family go into debt to radiate Fido's cancer.

"I know it might be a very difficult concept for some to understand but to some people, there are things that are more important than money."
Yes, PEOPLE are more important. And PEOPLE are more important than amimals.

    Bookmark   July 21, 2006 at 10:28PM
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People are free to do what they want with their money. Foolishness is in the eye of the beholder. If someone "wastes" there money and comes asking your for more, you have the right to complain. If they aren't asking you to cover for their profligacy, why worry?

    Bookmark   July 21, 2006 at 11:15PM
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The OP didn't say that PEOPLE were more important than animals, they said that MONEY is more important than animals. If you can afford a trip to Europe then you're obviously not a senior choosing between your own meds and prolonging your pet's life. Not the priorities that I would have but I didn't start a thread to talk about people who don't have enough sense to have my priorities.

BTW, if it came to that, I WOULD go into debt if the treatment had a reasonable chance of working and giving my pet a good quality of life. There are certain things worth going into debt over. I also went into debt in order to buy a house, that was worth it to me too. For me, my pets are not just objects and I don't have an "oh well, they'll die someday anyway" attitude about it. Someone who cannot afford their own basic expenses of life (food, shelter, medicine) shouldn't have a pet in the first place but if you can afford to take care of yourself and pay your bills every month, what does it matter to anyone else if you go into debt over a large and unexpected medical expense? If you're not relying on public assistance to live, how does that affect anyone else? I don't see debt as a dirty thing though either and to carry some doesn't bother me in the slightest.

ANY expense (even being "selfish" enough to keep money in the bank for yourself when that money could be used to help people who are way less fortunate in the world) can be weighed against starving and dying children in the rest of the world and found to be morally inferior... That's why I said the argument was a red herring.

    Bookmark   July 22, 2006 at 9:12AM
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Actually the OP said:

"So many people find themselves in a financial predicament trying to save pets spending thousands of dollars that they do not have."

Nothing about money being more important than animals... nothing about trips to Europe!
It is about people going into debt...

    Bookmark   July 22, 2006 at 9:54AM
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As I said, I have a much more "redneck" approach to pets than do many. I think every single one of us who shares a home with a cherished pet understands the stress and discomfort that surrounds an ill pet. As Josestrauss pointed out, it really doesn't matter what someone choses; it's their money and their choice.

I had horses for years and grew up in a rural community that was full of 4-H, livestock, baHncats, dooryaHd dogs. The vet. made a sweep through town and everyone was home to receive the visit... that's how big animal treatment works and if you're smart you have the domestic animals contained and get them vaccinated at the same time. I tend to approach veterinary care from a business standpoint, as unpleasant as that may sound to some. Large animals require you to make tough choices... sure you can "maintain" a chronically lame horse or cow, but the grim reality is it's not practical for the longterm. That mindset has carried over to our household's approach to domestic pets. We have them vaccinated at local rabies clinics, saving the price of an office visit for something more dire. We call it "managed care" and have a "health savings account" for the pets.

I love our animals. But I am not of a personality that is willing to forego retirement savings or place myself behind the financial 8 ball to sustain one. I'm more likely to euthanize a pet that is failing and will require expensive treatment/medication and adopt a new one. To many that concept is appalling, and I'm OK with that and I understand it. What someone opts to do with their money is their choice.

    Bookmark   July 22, 2006 at 9:57AM
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Everyone has their own priorities and opinions when it comes to pets, but people should not jeopardize their financial health to save a pet. That makes no sense.

However, for people who have the money to put into treatments and medications for sick pets that's fine. All that money goes into our economy and to the companies which provide services and materials to the vets.

    Bookmark   July 22, 2006 at 12:04PM
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I sing from the same hymn book as chelone.

ole joyful

P.S. As for the hungry kids ... I agree that it's more difficult for us to visualize a faceless person who's hungry in a distant land than an ailing pet in my living room, and I would take a different attitude regarding a young animal than an old one, I believe. Actually, my experience with pets is largely of the outside kind - farm cats and dogs, though I did have an inside pet for a time and regarded it somewhat differently, but my earlier experience/training carried over substantially, I think.

However, if I have surplus dollars, it seems to me that my heavenly parent would rather that I spend them helping hungry people eat/get medicated than on an animal. Would our answer be different if the hungry kid were just down the street? Maybe not - for we don't bend over backwards helping our folks with physical or mental disabilities who are homeless get along better.

Many of those folks would settle for a red herring or two - even if they were sort of small and dried up.

As for the economics of the issue ... the drug companies spend a great deal more on supposed illnesses afflicting folks in rich countries than they do on malaria, AIDS, etc. for most of the sufferers from those diseases are in countries where the people ain't got much money.

Dollars are, as usual, more important than people. Or animals, for that matter.

o j

    Bookmark   July 22, 2006 at 4:26PM
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People who let themselves become financially ruined by pets shouldn't have them. This coming from someone who has spent $7000 in vet bills (not including routine care or boarding) in the last year. And 2 of the 3 pets died anyway. BUT, and this is a BIG BUT, I can easily afford it.

People have to consider what kind of financial responsibility they want before getting a pet. If they want to do "everything" to save a pet and will whether or not they actually have the money, then they shouldn't get the pet. It isn't fair to oneself to go through that torture of there being something that could be done if only they had the money. Or to ruin themselves financially to save a pet. If they don't want to do "everything" then that's OK, it's their choice.

I have absolutely zero tolerance for people who get pets for whom they cannot afford even basic care and small emergencies. Spay/neuter, routine yearly physicals (2 times a year for older pets), heartworm prevention and flea/tick control, vaccines if indicated, high quality food, etc. are expensive. Small emergencies- dogs and cats eat stupid things. Eating stupid things surgery can cost a couple hundred bucks, easily. So you better have some money for small emergencies before you get a dog or cat.

I also have no tolerance for people who cannot afford to spend the adequate amount of time with a pet. Dogs need to be walked and trained- both take time. Cats need attention- it takes time. Birds go nuts and feather-pick if they are not properly socialized. Even iguanas benefit from having time outside and being handled. Too many people don't have the time to have a pet.

I have 4 dogs, a ferret, a snake, and an iguana. They are all very very well cared for and loved. There are things I wouldn't do because of expense. When Aleksander had irretractable vomiting due to gastric adenocarcinoma, the vet school offered a drug that would probably stop his vomiting, at my student-discounted price of only $3500 per week. He didn't get the drug, and I had to put him to sleep. It would have been reasonable to not have gone through with his surgery, but that's not the kind of person I am. I can afford to be the kind of person I am for all my pets, else I wouldn't have obtained them. I only ask that people consider that for themselves BEFORE obtaining pets.

If I have to hear one more time "you don't really love animals because you're making me pay for this vet bill" I'll probably scream. YOU don't really love animals because YOU chose to take one without having the means to care for it. YOUR fault, not mine. I have sympathy for people who obtained pets and then fell onto hard times through no fault of their own. I've been there. But you can bet that I didn't go out and get another pet when I was still in hard times. I've seen people do that and it makes me so mad.

There is really no reason for a pet to ruin one financially. Why do people do it? Same reason they spend money they don't have on other things- gotta have gotta have gotta have. Very few people NEED animals; pets are a luxury. Just like the new car, huge house, picture-taking walkie-talkie texting cell phones, and other things people spend money on that they don't need.

    Bookmark   July 22, 2006 at 4:39PM
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After some thought, my conclusion is much similar.

I have couple other thoughts. The people that I KNOW that get themselves in debt for their pets do not have children. So the financial decisions do not affect the entire family. So I guess, it may be easier to allow themselves to go into debt. Having said that, for some of you that said that you would go into debt, do you have a line that you won't cross? Someone we know spent 60k for a dog. The dog was saved and it is as good as new, in report. They had the funds, so no big deal for them. Chemo and radiation for cancer treatment will set you back tens of thousands of dollars, which my next door neighbor did. Again, it did not set them back financially. They barely hiccupped due to the cost. These are not numbers that are outrageous. This is the cost of medicine this day and age. So where do you draw the line if you are willing to go into debt? Do you have an upper limit? Have you thought about it? I am just curious, that's all. Will you spend one month/year's income or two? Or is it that you have never thought about it, and that there is no limit until you have exhausted all possibilities?

Where I live, I see so many homeless people begging with their dogs in tow. I am not sure what to make of it. There is even a vet that provides pro-bono service for these dogs.

I think we as a society do not really know the kind of desperation that poverty can create. My Indian friend when growing up in India was not allowed to have pets. His parents said that in a society where there are people who are literally starving to death, it is immoral to have a pet that will use up the precious resource. BTW, his parents love animals.

In true poverty, parents watch their children die one by one due to hunger, disease, war... Parents sell their children to slavery and prostitution. Healthy people sell their organs. Children are abandoned. I know of a family that adopted three abandoned children from India. So compared to that kind of poverty, we are wealthy. Even if we go into debt for pets. Someone will lend us money to care for pets. Even if we can't pay it off, we will still have food, shelter and clothing. We probably won't be on the street begging for food even if we borrow a few thousand dollars for Fifi. We live in a very wealthy society.

    Bookmark   July 22, 2006 at 6:21PM
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I have never been without a pet. I have two cats and a dog right now. I have a limit on what I would spend on them and it changes as our income rises. It isn't terribly high. My dog will probably need to have cateracts removed some day but I don't know what that costs or what my decision will be. She has been a wonderful companion but she has had a good long life and there are thousands of dogs being euthanized every year for want of an owner. Since not spending on her old age means giving a puppy life then I feel perfectly justified in saying goodbye to an old friend and hello to a new one.

I have great tolerance for people who acquire an animal they can't afford vet care for. When I was a child, ordinary kittens were free for the asking. Now it costs $80 to adopt one from a shelter. My parents could never have come up with that kind of money. To be poor is one thing but to be poor and deprived of the love and comfort a pet has to offer in what can be an awfully hard world just seems too cruel to me. I always contribute to pet food drives for disadvantaged families and am glad to do so. I am so sorry for children who long for a pet and can't have one. There should be some things that rich and poor can enjoy alike. Along with sunsets, a warm puppy should be one of them.

    Bookmark   July 23, 2006 at 12:46AM
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I've gone into debt for the pets. When Kang was sick, DH had been out of work for 6 months already, I didn't make much as a vet tech, and we were eating through our savings very quickly. There is a huge difference between financial ruin and debt though. We were in debt for a long time during that period- DH didn't obtain employment for a total of 18 months. But we knew that was a temporary situation, and Kang deserved a fighting chance. He lost the battle despite everything, though. If there was something else we could have done, we would have done it. My dogs don't seem to leave us much of a choice- when they are dying there is nothing that will save them. Kang was no exception.

I can't afford $60k for a pet right now, I know that. And a lot depends on what is wrong, what the prognosis is, how the pet is feeling, what my currect financial status is (we've gone through a lot of ups and downs), etc. If the vet said $10k and the dog will be good as new, I'd do it. It would be hard financially, but would NOT ruin us. If they said we can try to give him a 10% chance of a couple of good quality months, I probably wouldn't do it. So a lot depends on the situation. I can't just draw a line arbitrarily.

I'm not saying that people shouldn't have pets if they can't afford to do "everything." But they should not have pets if they cannot afford the basics, including reasonable vet care. They'd be better off spending that money on education, training, investing, pretty much anything besides a living creature that depends fully upon them for their very life and well-being. That is not fair to the animal.

You can still get free pets- there are ads in the paper all the time, even for pure-bred dogs. But you'd better be prepared to care for that animal once you get it. There are some things that poor people can't afford, and pets are one of those things. Sad, but that's the way it goes. Nothing stops them from earning some money walking the neighbor's dogs or petsitting the neighbor's cats. Nothing stops them from owning an animal that requires less vet care, such as a gerbil or hamster (bunnies can be expensive especially if not already spayed/neutered). But there are some sacrifices one makes when poor.

    Bookmark   July 23, 2006 at 8:38PM
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We allowed my son (who is 33 yrs old and working and...back to college AGAIN!) to get a dog last December. He went to "pound" and brot home an "Aussie" (Australian sheepdog/or shepherd) - probably a mix.

I had been joking (maybe hinting a little?) about getting a 2nd dog to keep company with DS's dog. Altho I KNOW it's a very bad idea (for us financially), it's fun to entertain the thought.
DS's dog has brot us SO much joy/entertainment/laughter/ and, yes - even EXCERSIZE into our little world.

Yesterday, hubby read something online (local news) about an "Aussie Mix" that needs a home. The homeless dog has problems with eyes (I THINK it was cataracts), and is deaf, and they are searching for a home for this dog - someone who already has a dog, in hopes that the homeless/deaf dog could "pick up vibrations" and learn to adapt with the other dog. Otherwise, the dog will be put down.

OMG! I told hubby to STOP! It would be wonderful if we could save this dog. But I told him to NOT EVEN entertain this idea! This dog would require MANY visits to vet - much expense and extra care, and we just don't have that kind of money.
It probably would have been a perfect match, but...

(now I'm feeling guilty again. I don't like reading these kinds of stories.)

I grew up with dogs. Never really "appreciated" them as much when I was younger - they were a "fun snuggle/plaything". More recent years, I've come to appreciate and RESPECT dogs more than ever.

They are much more than "just an animal". They have feelings. They have needs. They require attention like a baby. They are protective. They are entertaining. They DO EAT STUPID THINGS!(at least, this one does!). They are companions, and they can help a humans' health. (Lower blood pressure, for example).

We only gave permission for DS to get a dog b/c he is working and going back to college, NO kids to support, we are no longer RENTING a house, we have lg yard, no young kids at home (yet - haha), AND, secretly (shhh...I've been wanting a dog for a long time now - but didn't want to be "tied down", so to speak. Not that we go anywhere...but IF we decided we wanted to go somewhere - even just overnight, didn't want to have to worry about what to do/who to care for dog.)

I don't know where the line would be drawn as far as medical expenses for DS's dog at this point. All I can do is keep him sheltered from heat/cold, make sure he has food and fresh water, and give him "attentions" everyday while the "boys" are at work.
When time comes - would depend. DS would have to consider first. Then he has us and his Father (who is a total dog lover) to discuss with.
However, I cannot imagine spending THOUSANDS of $$$ on a pet that will probably NOT have quality of life, and go thru all the pain/agony just to "buy" him a few months.

    Bookmark   July 24, 2006 at 10:06AM
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my wife used to work for a vet. she told me numerous times that the ones who CAN'T afford it are that ones who WILL pay to keep a pet healthy. most of the richer clients simply let the animal die.

i guess it is because we as a species generally get so attached and look upon our pets as family members. sure, i know many people do not, but many do.

we were adopted by a black lab about 3 years ago. when he wandered up you could count his ribs from 20 yards away. he had heartworms and major ear fungus. we spent close to a thousand bucks on him, most of it before we even decided for sure to keep him. if she had not been employed by the vet, the treatments would have been 3000.00, as it was we got it for the cost of medicine.

so, yes, i can see people spending money on an animal they cannot afford. but many times, the price is worth it to them. and it is no one else's business but their own.

    Bookmark   July 24, 2006 at 10:50AM
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Yes, people don't realize there are expenses to keeping pets, just like people and children.

I have no children and my dogs are my family. I worry when they are in pain, or have diarrhea for several days in a row. They bring so much pleasure into my life they deserve the best.

I only wish people care was as cheap as my dog's vet bills. My dog's spay cost $240, wish my hysterectomy was that cheap! Total hip replacement - $3,000 for a dog, and it may be in my dog's future. I'm sure for a human it would cost much more.

    Bookmark   July 24, 2006 at 10:57AM
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Two years ago my sweet boxer Hannah was diagnosed with grade III mast cell cancer. We had a few different options include chemo but decided to make her as comfortable as we could without treatment. She lived a very happy 8 years and she was put down before she started feeling bad. She was in my arms in her favorite spot under the tree in the backyard.

When making financial decisions about pets my motto is that quality is way more important than quantity. Pets don't have any concept of time, they don't know or care how long they live. They care about food, water, safety and the companionship of their pack.

    Bookmark   July 24, 2006 at 11:47AM
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I disagree with the whole premise that a lot of people are financially ruined by pet expenses. In all but the rarest cases, we're talking about thousands of dollars, not tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars. People that are financially ruined by an expense of $5,000 are people that were in bad shape financially to begin with. If they hadn't blown the money on the pet, would they really have saved it anyway?

Anyone below the age of 35 has ample time to recover from any financial trauma. Anyone over 35 that doesn't have a net worth of at least a hundred thousand is probably on track for financial ruin anyway.

    Bookmark   July 24, 2006 at 1:31PM
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I see alot of opinions have floated on this subject so i will drop my own. My wife and I have several pets ( 2 dog's, 7 birds ) and we love every minute of them. We can not have children so they are our "children" they have it better than alot of children growing up in this world, and possibly alot of adults as well. Is that wrong? certainly not, I cant control how anyone is brought up or if they were born in a country known for poverty anymore than their parents could. Our pets have become part of our family much like one's children would become. They go on vacations WITH us, they take part in family activities (cookouts,b-days, xmas) So to say people are more important than animals, I'd have to say depends who house you went to! In our house we respect all living things as one, Not your inferior, they are superior! all that crap is hog wash. we were all put on this earth for a reason and just because animals dont have the same reason as being here that we do, does that make them inferior?? technically they were here first, and if it wasnt for them the human race probably wouldnt even be here! Animals have provided food, clothing, bone to make tools with, "horse power" to farm and make tough labor easier on men and women. Babies would have gone without milk, Adults would have had to brave the elements without fur and leather to protect them. With that said, each and everyone of us has a right to spend how we deem reasonable. Even if it puts us in "debt" and money we "dont" have. I am willing to bet that alot of people driving those brand new car's didnt "have" 50,000 dollars sitting at the house, and I'm willing to bet that people living in 150,000 dollar homes didnt have the money tucked away. so what would you consider having? being able to get a loan for that new house, or new car, or that shiny boat? To me, you DIDNT HAVE the money to buy those thing's but you did.. Live your life the best way you know how to make you and your family comfortable and content. You can "ruin" your life in more ways than one in this world, and if you live life worrying about being "ruined" you are already half way there in my opinion.

    Bookmark   July 24, 2006 at 7:13PM
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I had a neighbor once who took in a stray cat, bought a cat bed from me, food, books on cat care etc. She put the cat down two months later because it needed $8 worth of meds a months. That's right EIGHT DOLLARS. She said she "didn't want the extra expense." This is not a poor woman by any means. To each his own, but we thought this was cruel. She spent more on the bed than she spent on this cat.

    Bookmark   July 25, 2006 at 3:36PM
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It seems like everyone wants to stray from the original question:
"Why to(sic) so many people let pets ruin their financial picture?"

    Bookmark   July 25, 2006 at 4:17PM
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Funny that I came across this thread today because I am taking our cat to a university hospital for a neuro consult and a treatment for hyperthyroidism. The cost is probably going to be around $1000. We don't have children and we can afford that treatment and more if necessary.

Although somewhere in my head I have a dollar amount that I will not go over, my concern isn't really the money, my concern is his quality of life and what I would be putting him through. If the neuro exam comes out fine and the chances of recovery are good then he will have the treatment for the hyperthyroidism. If his chances of recovery are not good then I will do what I can to make him comfortable until the time comes for him to be put to sleep.

I am a dog groomer so I am surrounded by animal lovers and every single one of us has had pet emergencies. One person spent over $8000 to save her dog who had accidentally gotten into Ibuprofen. That was several years ago and he is doing fine. Another spent thousands for her Irish Setter to have cancer treatments and although the dog ended up passing away, this woman wouldn't have changed a thing. Another has her Doberman on medication that cost over $100 a month but her and her husband make it work. To each their own.

Some people I know spend lots of money on manicures, massages, hair coloring, makeup, cars, clothes, video games, magazines, bar hopping, etc. But again, to each their own.

    Bookmark   July 25, 2006 at 4:29PM
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It seems like everyone wants to stray from the original question:
"Why to(sic) so many people let pets ruin their financial picture?"

Because they love them.

    Bookmark   July 25, 2006 at 4:34PM
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The answer is - they don't! People do.

    Bookmark   July 26, 2006 at 1:58AM
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A friend of mine has an email signature that says it all. It's a quote from an author who writes "dog mysteries".

"Whenever I feel poor, I remember that I'd rather have my dogs than other people's money." S. Conant

    Bookmark   July 26, 2006 at 1:43PM
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When I was young, broke, and in college... I naively bought a poorly bred dobermann.

This dog very quicly revealed expensive medical issues that required monthly care. The dog was also aggressive (fear aggression).

I decided to have the dog "put down" and immediately went looking for a dog in a dog pound to "save" from being put down. I ended up with a greyhound who was easy going, happy, and healthy throughout her life.

So this was my unusual solution to save myself from financial trouble while trying to morally make-up for the stupid situation which I brought upon myself.

If you are broke and must have a dog... and I understand... I would say that you should be prepared to make the hard decision if you find yourself with a chronically ill animal.

    Bookmark   July 26, 2006 at 3:16PM
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Killing a pet for behavioral problems is morally repugnant.

    Bookmark   July 26, 2006 at 8:51PM
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I know that my decision was not traditional and draws ethical questions, but so does keeping a sick and dangerous animal alive while healthy, and unwanted animals are killed daily in dog pounds.

I do stand by my decision. I was able to put my dog down in a safe calm enviroment (scratching him just as he liked as the doctor injected the material)... the dog seemed to experience no stress. On the other hand, dog pound euthenasia is surely a frightening and lonely experience.

In many ways, it is easier just to keep your pet alive and avoid the tough decisions. I suspect this accounts for a lot of suffering in our pets. This can amount to animal torture just so we can feel better (and moral) ourselves. Some might even feel that this is the moral way... to just keep them going through medicine. Not me.

One way or the other, a dog is going to die. Just because I happened to acquire one of them while the dog pound dog sits alone in a cage doesn't mean that there is some universal principle that says that the dog in MY house is more deserving of life than that lonely dog. This is a matter for thoughtful consideration and the answer isn't always simplistic.

The greyhound, by the way, needed no special medical care at all through her 12 yrs with me. Only routine vet visits and that final trip to euthanize her when she could no longer walk at the age of 14. The expected physical robustness of the greyhound was one reason I selected this dog. She was a fantastic companion, and I miss her and our frisbee games.

    Bookmark   July 27, 2006 at 8:25AM
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behaviorkelton - I support your decision. It makes absolute sense to me.

    Bookmark   July 27, 2006 at 11:10AM
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i was just talking w/ my husband about the same thing just other day. i know someone who spent $1500 on a dog that will need health insurance and constant care and a c section should they choose to breed her. what!?! i would never ever never ever spend anything close to that for a pet. ever never ever. not even if i had money coming out of my ears. but to each their own i guess. they really like her and though i cannot even begin to comprehend pet love i think (know) i am in the minority.

like a previous poster, i too come from a farm. outside animals are cool. i liked working w/ them, hanging out w/ them, showing them, etc. i never really got "attached" to any, especially pets. animals die. life goes on. so of course i married a boy from the suburbs who can't possibly live without some pet, a cat right now. blech! i bristle at the thought of spending $5 on this thing (i'm cheap and scottish) but he loves it and so long as it doesn't pee on anything it will stay. i will get a dog (a reasonably priced dog w/ an air tight DNR) later on for my son if he wants one. teach him responsibilty and whatnot. but deep down i am one of those people who just do not get pets.

    Bookmark   July 28, 2006 at 1:21PM
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Well, most of you probably think I'm crazy, then. I've spent $4000 on my cat in the last two months (her liver is failing). My husband and I have no children. And while we're not exactly swimming in money right now (due to having done a bunch of renovations to the house in the spring), doing what we can for our kitty is more important to us then holding onto that money. If the vet told us that her prognosis was poor, and that the rest of her life would be spent in pain and misery, then we would have euthanized her. But her prognosis is strong, and in the past 6 weeks she's bounced back from near death to something near her normal self. It's not something several of you would have done, obviously, but it was the right choice for us.

    Bookmark   July 28, 2006 at 3:42PM
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Don't get me wrong. With a good relationship, money issues go out the window (that goes for pets and human relationships).

Due to my incompetence in dealing with a tough dog, my financial situation (zero money), and the prospect of having to keep visitors safe from my own dog... I just thought long and hard and decided to save another dog.

Now, the dog I did get was fantastic and we were madly in love (in a human-pet kind of way) throughout her life. I would have been more than happy to spend money on her medically. Of course, I graduated college and could afford it anyway.

I'm don't have that farm-life attitude about animals where animals are easily dispatched and are more or less "objects". Not at all. In fact, I probably apply the same moral standard to myself as I do to animals in many cases.

So if I go permanently crazy and violent and sickly... don't spend too much money keeping me safe and alive. Put me to sleep gently and spend your money on someone more deserving. Really. I mean it. This was basically the same standard I applied to my dog.

As to spending money foolishly on pets... well, do what you want. It's no different than spending money on a fancy camera that you really don't need. You could always argue that the money should be spent on a cheaper camera and the rest given to the needy. That's always the case.

    Bookmark   July 28, 2006 at 6:25PM
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I doubt a fearful dog is a happy dog.

A former colleague of mine has given her dog Prozac (or is it Zanax)every day since he was a few months old. He's a fear biter, and can't be trusted except with her and her spouse. She was livid the day she stopped at the vet's to pick him up and he was in the reception area without his "gentle leader:" he's quite likely to bite at the least provocation.

Now, she and her DH can handle the situation. They have no children and some understanding friends. They own a large chunk of land, Dog cannot trot 200 feet to the next neighbor's house. But a dog with that kind of problem needs attention that quite frankly, many people haven't the time, initiative, money, or lifestyle to deal with. She works part-time, and has consulted behavior therapists for her dog, in addition to the meds.

Another colleague had a dangerous dog that did in fact, severely injure a neighbor child. The child was in the hospital for three weeks patching up his face, and his life wasn't ever in danger. When a dog is a danger to others, I'd lean strongly toward euthanization. You could re-home a dog like that...but what kind of person is going to take him, if you're honest about his problem? A shelter won't knowingly (probably can't in good conscience) adopt out a dangerous animal.

    Bookmark   July 29, 2006 at 10:02PM
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Oh man, does this strike close to home right now. I have a 12 y.o. cat with numerous health problems that were only recently diagnosed. I've had her since she was 6 weeks old and feel that she is part of the family and that I do owe her care and a chance to a reasonable extent.

I cannot 'go broke' for her, but have come to the conclusion that if treatment is reasonable, the outcome is mostly garanteed, and the 'cure' is not worse than the condition, then we will go ahead and do it, even if it means taking on a little credit card debt in the process- and I'm so anti-credit card that this makes me feel ill. Right now her treatments are non-invasive and work wonders, they are also relatively inexpensive. The most expensive part of her treatments are routine blood tests at the vet's office. Fortunately our vet understands that most people can't put money before a pet.

I had a cat who died of cancer about a decade ago. It was terrible making those decisions. After having surgery to remove a tumor, she never enjoyed a quality of life again. I always wish I had just let her go peacefully despite the fact that she wasn't that old for a cat. I've met so many people in the same situation who wish they had done less and let their animal have quality over quantity. It's selfish to do anything else. In that situation again, it would definitely be less expensive to let the pet go, but I think it's also more humane too.

Why do people go broke for their pets? Because they feel guilty and obligated and lots of vets instill this feeling in their clients (they have to pay for their fancy equipment somehow). Two or three years ago my mom had a cat dying of kidney failure, the only option her local vet would offer was dialysis a couple times a week, but they wouldn't disclose the cost for some reason. Mom didn't think it was fair to put a cat through dialysis, and also found out later that it was tens-of-thousands-of-dollars a year. Oddly enough, my cat *was* also dying of kidney failure just a few months ago (she has other health problems as well) but the vet gave us the option of injecting fluid under her skin a couple of times a week to help flush her body of toxins- we do it ourselves at home. The fluid costs us about $5/month, plus I make her special food that costs about $15-$20/month- and she has recovered, gained weight, and is doing beautifully. This treatment is nothing new, but my vet isn't making any money from the proposition except when we take her for tests. I feel a lot of vets are more interested in making money than helping animals, and they use peoples' feelings for their beloved pets to that end.


    Bookmark   July 31, 2006 at 12:46PM
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There is something so pathetic about this whole subject. I know more people who have let out-of-control spending on 'things' destroy their lives, then any animal could. Cars, boats, vacations, expensive clothes, homes, gambling, etc.
I would rather have a loving, faithful friend cause financial problems, then 'things.' All those vacations to Vegas, Atlantic City and Foxwoods can do you in in a very short time.
Expensive clothes, cars etc., get old in less time then most pets.
I've never seen a car excited to see you when you come home.
Get Real!


    Bookmark   July 31, 2006 at 11:32PM
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I have a dog that has been a constant source of out-going cash flow for almost ten years. Frequent UTI's, expensive meds for her arthritis, not to mention the expenses we had when showing her in obedience in her younger days and just the every day expenses that come with a pet. I don't even want to know what this dog has cost me over the years. But the money that I spent that put me into debt wasn't spent on this dog. It was spent when I had a bad case of "stuffitis".
I don't know if I would have a spending limit for her care or not. A lot would depend on the outcome of her treatment. If it would fix her where she would have a close to normal or normal quality of life then I'd go for it. If it would only prolong her pain and suffering then I'd hold her close and tell her see ya later.

why..... Because I love her


    Bookmark   August 1, 2006 at 11:24AM
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I didn't realize so many people let pets ruin their financial picture. I have to say I've never known anyone who has done this. I'm more familiar with people who seem to think animals are disposable items and don't seem to feel any great sense of responsibility in having a pet - allowing them to run around unattended - catching diseases, getting hit by cars, reproducing and creating more strays, etc. I would imagine that in some cases the people who do let pets ruin their financial picture do so for the same reasons they ruin their finances in other ways - irresponsible with money, take on more "responsibilities" than they can afford to adequately care for, etc. Or maybe they just love their pets so much they can't bear to let them go without doing everything possible to save them.

I've had five cats in my adult life - two have died and three are currently living a nice life with us. One was a stray I rescued that was nearly dead - my nice vet said he'd do surgery and try to fix him up for $50 if I wanted to try to find him a home. He found a home with me...... Only one other cat has needed anything "major" - eye surgery. When all was said and done that was probably $2000 and while I thought twice about it, it didn't cause financial ruin.

I'm not sure how far I'd go in terms of $$$. I don't think that will become an issue because I'm not into putting an animal through alot of medical treatment that I think must be torture for them. Unless it's something with a relatively quick recovery and good prognosis I'd be more likely to let them just go peacefully and naturally. Hopefully that philosophy will save me from financial ruin.

    Bookmark   August 2, 2006 at 11:27PM
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I think it's a shame that many people won't think twice about buying an expensive "toy", or spending a fortune on booze or cigarettes or other worthless things, but God forbid they should "waste" any money on a mere animal!! However, it is their money, and they can spend it as they please. I also think the same courtesy should be extended to people who choose to spend money on their pets. It is no one elses' business, and if they do get into financial trouble over it, I am sure they will dig themselves out, just like those who get into financial trouble buying material things they can't afford.

Morgan88, even if I live to 100, I will never understand people like you. And for that I am very grateful.

    Bookmark   August 4, 2006 at 12:38PM
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"Our dog was sick when we were in Europe with the kids. The vet wanted to operate for $3k to $4k. At first we said yes out of guilt of being gone. Then we got some more sense into us, and we called back and said no."

I hope you enjoyed Europe.

    Bookmark   August 18, 2006 at 4:52PM
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In another post the OP said her mortgage on her PRIMARY residence (which implies there is a secondary residence) is $3000.00 per month. She also has a home equity loan for $850 and pays an extra $1000 to $2000 each month towards the home equity loan. Her house is valued at $800k to $900k and they are a two income family.

It would appear that the OP is one of those pet owners I can't stand- someone who would let their pet die or put it to sleep because they just don't want to spend the money. It is just an animal after all.

    Bookmark   August 18, 2006 at 5:06PM
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Why don't you people purchase pet insurance??? If you own a pet take care of it or don't have one. Just because they are animals does not make them any less valuable than a human being. I would never allow my pets to go without medical care.

    Bookmark   August 19, 2006 at 3:58PM
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Bumblebeez SC Zone 7

Thank you Sue26 for your posts. I agree completely.
When a vacation, private schools and second house take priority over even having basic pet insurance ....ahhhh! I can't write anymore.

    Bookmark   August 21, 2006 at 10:58AM
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DO you have a pet insurance company you recommend? I have always paid out of pocket for pet care. When I looked into insurance companies, based on their limitations, it looked like it wouldn't really save anything. Maybe it was just the wrong company.

    Bookmark   August 21, 2006 at 11:55AM
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hey petra, i said that "I" was the freak for not liking pets. i already said "I" was the strange one, in the minority. I acknowledge the fact that people like their pets and are willing to spend tons of money on them. i am different. what is there to understand? where is the mystery? you mean that people are all different? some people like pets and others don't? i don't like pets because i'd rather spend my money on booze and marlboros and fancy sports utility vehicles and tacky furniture. is that what you want to hear? good golly, get off your over priced financially crippling high horse.

    Bookmark   August 21, 2006 at 1:35PM
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Hey morgan88, you posted your opinion and I posted mine. And I think I was pretty clear in my original post, I don't understand people who think like you (i.e. resent spending even $5 on that "thing", etc.), and I never will, and for that I am very, very, very grateful, what's so hard to grasp about that??

    Bookmark   August 21, 2006 at 4:02PM
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well, i understand people who think like you. all too bloody well.

    Bookmark   August 21, 2006 at 4:13PM
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    Bookmark   August 21, 2006 at 4:15PM
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Only a non-pet lover would post a question like this. IMO, it's inane. The amount I would spend would be dependant on the diagnosis, liklihood of a good recovery, life expectancy, and quality of life issues.
Sometimes I wonder if questions like this are posted out of a desire to provoke controversy and arguments for entertainment rather than true curiosity.

    Bookmark   August 21, 2006 at 6:16PM
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The premise of the question assumes that many people let pets ruin their financial picture. I highly doubt that premise to begin with.

I believe that most pet owners weigh the cost of treatment against the prognosis, quality of life and life expectancy - thus making a sound financial decision.

So what percentage of pet owners are led to financial ruin by poor pet health care choices? Anyone have any data on that?

    Bookmark   August 22, 2006 at 11:26AM
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"Sometimes I wonder if questions like this are posted out of a desire to provoke controversy and arguments for entertainment rather than true curiosity."

Yup, there's even an internet term for it - "trolling". And those who post such threads are called trolls.

This subject has come up before.
Other troll favorites include variations on:
"Should we ban pit bulls?"
"McMansions, SUVs and the people who have them are bad"
"How do people afford XYZ?"

And the perennial weird favorite:

"Do you take off your shoes in the house?"

    Bookmark   August 22, 2006 at 12:46PM
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LOL Gina. I was just about to post the same thing about the "shoes on or off" debate. Who would ever believe that is the hottest button issue we have going?

I tried the grandparenting forum just once and the level of rancor was so high it nearly burned through my screen saver. I don't go there anymore.

    Bookmark   August 22, 2006 at 2:41PM
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Yeah, what about that old Ann Landers favorite? "Does the toilet paper roll belong with the paper coming from the back over the roll to the front, or hanging down in the back, along the wall?"

    Bookmark   August 22, 2006 at 10:40PM
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Nancy, I have a definite preference - but I won't say which!

Rancor? Devorah, there are some threads in seemingly innocuous forums like Kitchens where the fur flies. People can get purty purturbed about the oddest subjects. Even in my hangout - Cooking, people have gotten bent out of shape over the "correct" way to make cornbread. Remember that Nancy? Some folks just like to stir the crud.

    Bookmark   August 23, 2006 at 12:09AM
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Two more hot beds...
Landscaping Design and the Laundry Room. Yup, some folks get heated over laundry!

    Bookmark   August 23, 2006 at 7:01AM
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morgan88, you stated your feeling of a dislike of pets and a resentment of spending any money on them. There is nothing wrong with feeling that way. Though I do hope you will rethink your thoughts on getting your son a dog if he wants one. Dogs sense our feeling. No matter how carefully you try to find the healthiest pet things happen, they do need medical care. Annuals shots, neutering etc. They can get diseases, virusus, injuries and it would very sad for you son as well as the dog to not treat it.

    Bookmark   August 23, 2006 at 10:54AM
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no no no, i already said i will get my son a dog. i think people are just perseverating on the fact that i bristle at the thought of spending $5 on a cat. i admit i really do, but i can inwardly bristle all i like just so it does not hurt those i love. my husband loves his cat. i hate it, but it is well behaved and yes it gets fed and treated well and given shots and taken to the vet.

i grew up on a farm. i had lots and lots and lots of animal responsibilities. i grew up went to college and realized i didn't want to spend any amount of my time or money on animals. i had paid my dues. now that i am married and have a son i cannot expect my family to feel as i do. most people don't. it would be unfair if my son went through life without a dog. i had a dog. everyone has a dog. i just said i, like most people, i would probably not have a dog airlifted to the mayo clinic for extensive testing. i would make sure it lived a happy and healthy life. i am respectful to the needs of animals. i just don't get anything out of them. Know what i mean? a wagging tail, a purring cat. i just don't get it. i may be a freak, but i am not an ogre!!

    Bookmark   August 23, 2006 at 12:55PM
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I actually know a woman who purchased the house next door to her,to keep her infirm felines away from her general population of healthy felines.Hey,it's her $$$...and I'm not her neighbor,lol.

    Bookmark   August 28, 2006 at 6:04PM
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If you can afford a trip to Europe then you can afford the vet bills. Humans tend to be selfish. Did you really need the trip to europe worst than the animal needed surgery? I have spent thousands on a cat that had hyperthyroidism and will do it again if need be.I do not live in a fine expensive home, drive a fancy car or take expensive trips.I am able to afford the care needed for all 3 of my cats.You have no business with a pet if you are unwilling to provide the medical care needed.

    Bookmark   August 30, 2006 at 10:57PM
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Morgan88... I wouldn't criticize you for not having a pet, but I would question your reasons for getting your son a dog.. YOU are gonna be the one responsible for it. Not all of us grew up with pets. I had a bird that died a horrible death. I was only in 3rd grade and held it all the night before.. leg kept twitching up to body and drew blood. I held it's leg away from the body. I was made to go to school the next day, but the nuns called my mom to come get me.

The only other "pet" I was allowed was a stray cat that I named Tiger for it's orange striped tail. I could feed it IF there were leftovers, but pet it freely in the backyard.

My father had grown up with dogs, my mother with none. Daddy and I always wanted same. Nixed by Mom. I grew up and moved away, got a dog and have had at least one ever since (30 + years). Daddy got one when a family member was going to destroy it because the 'kids' didn't take care of it. Mom loved that dog for 12 years.

It doesn't hurt a kid to grow up without a pet.

    Bookmark   August 31, 2006 at 12:50AM
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Ok here is a question for everyone. We live out in the country and seem to feed every stary cat that comes along. We took one in and got her fixed a couple of years ago. We just took her in for her shot last week. The Vet said she needs dental work and it will cost $500!!!!
This is not really a pet, lives outside ect. We got her fixed because we did not want kittens. The male cat we have never been able to catch. All the other cats seem to come and go.
So, the question, how much money is too much to spend on a stray cat? I can find low cost shot and low cost birth control, but no low cost cat dentists. We can't figure out waht to do.

    Bookmark   September 1, 2006 at 7:41PM
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the dogs i have had were strays, pound dogs, they most likely would have been put down, had i not adopted them, the last one lived 11 yrs with me b-4 getting to the point that it would have cost 1000.00 to take care of its medical problems, i had it put down, do i feel bad at the loss yes, but it lived in comfort and was loved for 11 yrs longer than it would have been, had i not adopted it. you do what you can with what you have. so my upper limit? normal care and medicine thats required. if i`am spending 500.00 on dental work its going to be for me, not a cat or a dog.

    Bookmark   September 5, 2006 at 4:56AM
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Hi all,
I am not going to judge, complain or try to influence anyone. I left my soapbox at home. Here is just the way I see it.
I try to help those who need help. Children and Animals are vulnerable creatures who need to be protected and cared for because they lack the ability to do so for themselves. I raise money and donate to a specific local charity that provides help to children with cancer as well as a variety of others, I raise money and donate to charities that help abused, sick and abandoned animals. But I also own a dog (I'd own tons more but I live in a condo). Now even with all of the charity that I feel is necessary in this world, I would stop that (temporarily) if I needed to to try and save my boy. Because I love him? Yes. Because he is a loyal and wonderful companion? Yes. Because he has always been there for me - unconditionally - in my hardest and happiest times? Yes. But mostly because when I adopted this beautiful boy (MY CHOICE!) I made a promise to him that I would protect him, love him and provide to him the care he needs. If I couldn't make that promise I would not have adopted him in the first place. To me a pet is a living thing that his/her owner agreed to care for; not a disposable posession. To me a pet is not a toaster. If it fails it can't just be tossed and replaced in a short trip to Target. There is so much of my heart and soul in this wonderful boy (and his in me) that I would empty my bank account - and then some - to save him. Why? Because I promised!

    Bookmark   September 7, 2006 at 8:39AM
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To Western PA Luann: people are not "more important" than animals. We are all God's creatures, and all are "important."

    Bookmark   September 10, 2006 at 9:36AM
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I think people are more important, even to God. (But let's not go religious here.... I'll agree to disagree.)

    Bookmark   September 10, 2006 at 4:41PM
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I do know many people who delay treatment wanting to see what happens only to be forced into paying for the treatment eventually when the animal is less likely to survive. Like waiting for an animal to bleed out after eating rodenticides costing about $1000 for transfusions and hospitalization rather than coming in immediately for us to make it vomit and start vitamin K1 at $150. Or saving money on heartworm prevention $80/year for a large dog only to have it get heartworms and cost $600. People do make stupid decisions that kick them in the butt later. Pets are not the only thing they do this with though. Let a headgasket leak ($600) go in your car and you could be looking at a cracked block and new engine ($2000).

    Bookmark   September 10, 2006 at 6:24PM
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Excellent points, Meghane.

Did we ever get the OP to tell us just who is letting their pets ruin their financial futures? It is not a widespread problem, I think.

    Bookmark   September 12, 2006 at 11:29PM
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"To me a pet is not a toaster."

Some people say dogs don't have souls. Well, the saying goes, "If dogs don't go to heaven, I want to go where they go."

My dog just broke a canine. It's going to cost me about $900 for a root canal and go on the credit card for a couple of months. I sure didn't budget for it, but it's not going to "ruin" me.

    Bookmark   September 13, 2006 at 3:26PM
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It looks like I'm going to be the first one to own up to letting my pets ruin my financial future. I don't know why other people do it, but I do it because I love & adore my pets & I don't love money.
I also choose to have monthly donations to "doctors without borders" & "greenpeace" deducted from my bank account, because I also love other people of all nationalities, & the planet, & I don't love money.
I have a very reasonable annual income, but I drive a second hand car, wear mostly second hand or chain store clothing, & have mostly second hand furniture. I don't have organized holidays away from home, don't drink, gamble, smoke or go out to entertainment activites. Why? Because I love the things I can do with my money if I don't waste it on meaningless crap.
My three teenagers DO love meaningless crap in the forms of surf label clothing, going out, i-pods, laptops, & mind blowing expensive sneakers. (o.k., I do use the macintosh laptop a fair bit)
And I fund all this silliness because I love & adore my kids & it seems to give them a lot of meaningful pleasure.
No, I'm not some dried up old lesbian or an old maid who wouldn't know how to have a good time if I won ten billion dollars. In my 20's I earned & spent a lot of money & lived the "champagne & caviar" materialistic lifestyle. Yes, it can be fun. But for me, it was hollow.
I'm happily married to a man who also values the simple things in life. Canoeing on a remote river at sunset, throwing a stick on a lonely beach for our nine dogs, riding through the bush at sunrise, these are the things that make my life worthwhile. Things that don't cost money, because the more you consume, the less you live.
Our nine dogs provide more than friendship & company for me. They are my THERAPY every single day. They're my mates, & I willingly undertake the challenge to love them as much as they love me. It's a big challenge, because they would die for me without a second thought.
Am I serious? Yes. Am I mad? Probably. But you only get as much love as you give in this world, & I make a point of loving everything that I can. The dogs are by far the easiest & the reciprocity is a joy.

    Bookmark   November 6, 2006 at 6:14AM
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Who cares? I mean really. Do pet's really lead you down the path to financial ruin? Will you really lose your house, all your benefits and savings? No. Most people who own pets weigh these expenses and move on with life, they either pay or not, but either way it rarely is a gamble.

Sure, I see homeless people with a dog or two, but do you really think these people care if there pet needs surgery? I doubt that they care about their financial ruin either, I know that sounds mean but, HELLO!

Here is a more important question: Why do so many people let material stuff ruin their financial future?

I'm talking about people who spend so much on clothes and designer shoes/bags that they are maxed to oblivion and can barely make it each month. I'm also talking about people who seem to be suffering from the "keeping up with the Joneses" scenerio.

People who spend 5k on their pets and/or kids and/or family are people who are spending their money on things they love, so leave them alone. People who over spend on material things to replace love are already in financial ruin.

    Bookmark   November 7, 2006 at 12:54PM
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