Expensive Pet Care Costs

By: Venton D. Blandin
By: Venton D. Blandin

May 16, 2006

Just about everyone knows that medical costs for people are high, but did you know pet owners are spending billions every year on medical bills for their animals? Just why, may surprise you.

Just about every procedure that can be done on a person, can be done on an animal. That was not case several years ago.

"The public, as they get more educated and find out the things that can be done, they are going to ask that it be done," Doctor Richard Freedman, VDM of the Albemarle Veterinary Health Care Center.

Veterinarians across the country are doing heart and brain surgery on pets just like human doctors. Doctor Richard Freedman says some vets are doing even more.

"We're now doing hip replacement in dogs, elbow replacements in dogs, and who knows how long it will be before we are doing total knee replacements," added Dr. Freedman.

A healthy pet can put a hurt on your wallet because of shots and routine check-ups. Still, Dr. Freedman says it's worth it because cats and dogs are living longer than before.

Barbara Kostanecki, the mother of two girls, is also a mother to four animals. She cares for three cats and one dog. Her love for them is similar to the love of a child.
It's the reason she does not consider caring for pets as an expensive thing.

"You should love your pet and treat it like a person. If your child is sick, you're going to take your child into the doctor, and want it well. So, I we see a problem with one of our animals I will take it into a vet," Barbara Kostanecki, a pet owner in Albemarle County.

For those who do worry, there's pet insurance, which has been around for 25 years. Not too popular in Charlottesville, demand plays a big role in availability.

About 5% of local pet owners have pet insurance. Insurance companies require the owner to pay a premium while they pay the bill if an animal gets sick. Premiums often range between $10-$30. Over a pet's lifetime that can be thousands of dollars.

Kostanecki says pet insurance is not an option for her.

"No, I've never found it necessary. I think because our animals have always been very healthy, and we've never had any major problems, so we never bothered with pet insurance," added Kostanecki.

Like anything else, what's available for pets, can be summed up to what is being demanded from the public.

Another item being demanded by some pet owners is a funeral. Some areas are seeing an increase in pet owners asking to have a funeral service for their pet because they are no longer being viewed as an object, but a person.

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