Tori Sutton, Stratford Gazette
The Stratford-Perth Humane Society is pleased to share the story of another happy ending for an animal in the community. But it’s using the case as a way to educate owners about their responsibilities to their pets.
About a month ago, Harley, a six-month-old basset hound – now renamed Mrs. Gladys Beasley – was adopted into her forever home. The pooch came to the Humane Society as a surrender in July after her owners, who feared she had a broken leg, couldn’t afford to pay the medical bill for her treatment.
“The owners were very upset about it,” said Stratford-Perth Humane Society manager Sarah Tickner.
She was assessed by a generous veterinarian who has helped the local shelter with other animals. It was determined Mrs. Beasley didn’t have a broken leg after all. Instead she was suffering from severe hip dysplasia. The surgery rang in at $3,500, but the vet offered to complete the procedure for just $1,000. He was able to save Mrs. Beasley’s leg, opting to remove the head of the femur and construct a false joint with muscle.
She was rehabbed back to health in a foster home, cared for by St. Marys Veterinary Clinic tech Katie Riddell, who dutifully performed daily rehabilitative therapy to help the dog regain the use of its leg.
Despite the discount, the shelter was still faced with the $1,000 bill and turned to Strickland’s Auto Group for help. The local business has established a program whereby it donates $5 from each car sold to the shelter. The Humane Society was able to draw from that fund to help pay for the surgery.
“We’re lucky to have a fund like this,” said Tickner. “If we didn’t have that, we would be having to reach out to the public more and more ... you can run out of support.”
Grateful for the ongoing support from the dealership, Tickner wants to share Mrs. Beasley’s story in hopes other pet owners can learn to prepare financially for a worst-case scenario. Many people do not have pet insurance, nor do they set aside money in savings specifically for their pet’s medical care. Too often she sees animals being surrendered to the shelter because their owners cannot cover the cost of much-needed care.
Sometimes something as simple as their dog dashing out the door and getting hit by a vehicle can be financially devastating to family already struggling to make ends meet.
“The saddest thing in the world is seeing an animal surrendered by their owner,” she said, noting it is difficult on the animals who have bonded with their human companions. “We don’t want to see your animals here, so people need to plan for the worst.”
Tickner notes getting pet insurance or saving just $25 a month can prevent plenty of heartache in the long run. She’s also noticed an increase in owners reaching out to the shelter who say they cannot afford to spay or neuter their animals. The Humane Society isn’t able to provide such a service and even if it were, costs would be prohibitive.
“They view us as being the one responsible for their pets but we’re not,” she explained. “You are responsible for your animal.”
With that said, the shelter’s staff is happy to do its best to assist any animal needing urgent medical assistance, and Tickner does not want to see owners deny their pet proper care because they can’t afford it.
“Call us,” she said. “We’ll do what we can to help, but we also don’t want to be viewed as a drop-off centre.”
The vet who assisted with Mrs. Beasley’s surgery – who wishes to remain anonymous – is also challenging other vets to step up to the plate to help by donating or subsidizing their services and expertise.
“We will recognize them for what they do,” Tickner pledged.