Your Wallet or Your Pet’s Life? Don’t Choose! Instead Use Crowdfunding to Pay for Veterinary Care Your Pet Needs to SurviveThere are many joys in owning a pet, and the love and companionship they provide are just a few. Research has shown that owning a pet can even be good for your health. In fact, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, a furry best friend can actually decrease an owner’s blood pressure, cholesterol levels, and feelings of loneliness. There is, however, one major drawback to owning a pet — their medical costs.
You’ve probably heard the horror stories. An owner notices their dog is limping or not eating and takes them to the vet. After examining their pet, the vet determines that surgery is necessary and presents the owner with a jaw-dropping bill. The owner must then decide between several options:
1. Bite the bullet and go deep into debt so that they can pay for their pet’s medical treatment
2. Doesn’t have enough funds for treatment must let their companion live with the pain
3. Worst-case scenario: an owner decides they don’t want to see their pet suffer anymore but can’t afford the treatment, so they choose euthanasia
Of course, none of those options are ideal. And that is why so many owners and pet guardians are now turning to crowdfunding to save their pet’s lives.
For some old-school thinkers, crowdfunding to raise money for a pet’s medical costs seems foreign. These people will tell you that they’ve always paid for their pet’s medical costs on their own. Or, if the prognosis was especially poor, they would have their pet euthanized. But that way of thinking has changed over the years for a number of reasons, including:
Medical Costs are Rising for Pets
Pets are living longer. That is both good and bad. Of course, it’s good, because the longer you can have your beloved best friend by your side, the better. It’s bad because the older a pet is, the more prone they’ll be to sicknesses, like cancer or diabetes. Because of the advancements in veterinary medicine, your pet’s doctor can now offer solutions for conditions that might have been left untreated in the past. Unfortunately, many of these treatments can be quite expensive. For example, according to the Canine Journal, these are the costs for some fairly common problems:
- Cranial cruciate ligament (CCL) surgery, ranges between $1,200 to $8,000-plus
- Hip dysplasia surgery, ranges between $1,700 to $4,500-plus
- Intestinal blockage surgery, ranges between $800 to $7,000
Cancer treatments can be especially expensive. For example, a standard course of chemotherapy can cost between $3,000 and $5,000, while radiation treatments for brain and nasal tumors can cost between $6,000 and $10,000, according to CBS News.
Health Insurance Can Help Pay for Some of Your Pet’s Treatments, But…
As medical care costs rise, some pet guardians are opting to purchase insurance for their pets. And in many instances, these policies can be godsends, helping defray thousands of dollars in costs.
Unfortunately, not all procedures and operations are covered by insurance. Some policies, for example, exclude conditions that might be considered hereditary. So, say you have a German Shepherd, or Golden Retriever diagnosed with hip dysplasia. Some pet insurance don’t cover hip dysplasia treatments that impact these and several other breeds. This is a nasty surprise for any faithful policy premium payer.
To Protect Young or “Fixable” Dogs from Economic Euthanasia
It’s a terrible dilemma for any pet parent that has to euthanize their young dog or cat down because they can’t afford to pay for a surgery. According to Wayne Pacelle, president of the Humane Society from 2004 to 2018 — “an estimated 23 million pets in the United States are in homes where the caretakers live at or below the poverty line.” For those pet owners who are struggling to buy their own groceries, paying for an animal’s medical treatment may not even be a possibility.
Rescues and Shelters are Often Faced with Big Vet Bills
Most rescue organizations are on tight budgets. Taking in a stray that has major injuries can quickly drain a rescue’s financial resources. If a center considers itself to be a no-kill shelter, it will do what they can to heal a pet and get them adopted, including crowdfunding.
Dogs and Cats are Family Members
For many people, their pet is a beloved family member. These dogs and cats share their owner’s beds, go out to dinner with them, and go on vacation with them. So, it’s almost impossible for some owners not to want to do everything possible for their fur baby — even if it means going deeply in debt.
Is Crowdfunding Right for You?
If you’re one of those people who find it hard to ask others for help, you may not think that crowdfunding is right for you. But before you decide against it, ask yourself: could crowdfunding save their life or, at least, drastically improve their quality of life? If the answer is yes and you consider your pet beloved family member, then you should definitely consider starting up a crowdfunding campaign.
For pets, there are platforms where you create your own crowdfunding campaign and partner directly with your veterinarian. All of the money collected on this type of platform is used to fund the patient pet’s care. Many people are willing to donate to sick or injured pets, knowing that all of the funds will go directly to its veterinarian care and not to fees.
How to Make Your Crowdfunding Campaign Successful
A crowdfunding campaign requires a “crowd” to be successful. So that means, you’ll need to put in time and effort to keep your pet’s story in front of your “audience’s” eyes. Here are a few steps you can take to attract donors and attention to your campaign:
- Make sure that your campaign contains compelling information. Is your pet a service animal that visits elderly people? Was your furry best friend injured while performing something heroic? For example, in July 2018, a dog was injured while saving its owner from a rattlesnake in Anthem, Arizona. A crowdfunding campaign raised more than $3,300 to help pay for the brave pup’s treatment.
- Add pictures that will compel people to donate. There should be at least one eye-catching photo of your pet. You may also want to include pictures of its injuries if, say, it was attacked by a dog or hit by a car.
- Ask your friends and family members if they would be willing to use their FB pages to help you spread the word about your campaign. If they don’t use Facebook, ask them to send out an email your pet’s campaign link. Shelters also ask their volunteers to help spread the word about any crowdfunding effort they are running for a deserving animal.
4. Contact the local media. If you believe that your pet has an interesting story, you may want to write up a press release and send it to the local media. This is an especially helpful tool for a rescue trying to find funds for an animal with a compelling story. Any animals rescued from a horrific abuse or hoarding situation.
5. Make sure to thank those who donated to your campaign personally. It is best if you email or even call the donor directly if you know them personally. You should also update your campaign with posts that express your gratitude for any and all donations that you receive.
6. Post updates. Once a person donates to your crowdfunding page, they have made an “investment” in your pet’s well-being. And as an investor, these people are going to have a vested interested in your pet’s outcome. So, make sure to post updates on how your pet is doing on your campaign’s page.
Don’t be surprised or get discouraged if you should encounter a little negativity while searching for donations. There are a few people out there who are just dead set against any type of crowdfunding. But, remember, that is their problem. That should not stop you from doing what is best for your beloved pet.
About the Author
Steven Mornelli, CEO and Founder of Waggle
CEO and Founder of Waggle, which provides veterinarian and animal-hospital-based crowdfunding for pets in crisis. A thought leader in leveraging deep analytics to harness insights for profitable business strategy, Steve experienced a single transformative moment that inspired focusing on data with the potential to save over 500,000 pets’ lives every year. This led to his founding the only pet-dedicated crowdfunding platform that partners directly with leading veterinary providers to reduce economic euthanasia in pets, thereby giving options to pet guardians and second chances to the pets they love. Learn more about Steve on LinkedIn.