What to do first
If you're faced with veterinary care that's unplanned or more than you expected and you don't have a credit card to use, take these initial steps:
- Ask your vet - s/he may know organizations that could help and some non-profits deal only with veterinarians
- Look at Care Credit - this is a type of credit card accepted at many veterinary, dental and medical offices. You apply online and agree on a re-payment plan. If you pay as planned, there is no interest. If you miss a payment, you pay the highest interest permitted under law. The catch is you must have good credit to be approved, but it won't take long to see if you meet their criteria or not.
- Contact your local humane society or Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA) - many of these have low-cost clinics of their own or know of charitable plans that could help you.
What won't work
Don't expect a veterinary office to work out a payment plan directly with you.
Ask any small business owner (lawn service, tire store, dress shop, dentist, etc) how often they've been paid in full when they've done this. You'll find it's less than one per cent. People make the first or maybe two payments. By then the dog is well or the car is working or whatever and people find more pressing needs for their money.
Small businesses that want to stay in business do not accept payment plans.
Organizations may help
Here's a list of non-profit organizations that help with veterinary bills. Note that some are specific to breeds, diseases or geographical locations. All of these require applications and acceptance will take x-amount of time.
If you have a dog, you need to think about emergency medical care. Look into pet insurance (see http://toybreeds.com/petinsurance.htm), have a credit card for emergencies or establish some type of bank account to save money for this.
Brown Dog Foundation for seriously sick pets
Buddy Care Foundation for critical medical care
Frankie's Friends for emergency and specialty care; only vets can apply
Handicapped Pets Foundation provides equipment
IMOM (In Memory of Magic) for non-routine care for domestic animals
International Association of Assistance Dog Partners for assistance dogs
Mosby Foundation for critically sick, injured, abused and neglected dogs
National Equine Resource Network for life-saving surgeries or treatments
Onyx and Breezy Foundation for medical treatment for hardship
Paws 4 a Cure for illnesses and injuries
Pet Fund for medical costs beyond normal expenses
RedRover Relief Fund for grants between $100 and $200 to fill small funding gaps
Big Hearts Fund for heart disease
Canine Cancer Awareness for cancer treatment
Dog and Cat Cancer Fund for cancer treatment
FETCH a Cure for cancer treatment
Joshua Lewis Cancer Foundation for pets with cancer
Magic Bullet Fund for dogs with cancer
PieFund focuses on cancer
Riedel Cody Fund for cancer treatment
Stymie Canine Cancer Foundation for cancer treatment
Actors and Others for Animals for low/fixed income owners in Southern California
Animal Care and Welfare Inc. for emergencies in Pennsylvania
Dog Fairy Parents for temporary assistance in Massachusetts
Fairy Tail Endings for Florida's Sarasota & Manateecounties
Hearts United Animals for Midwest
Jake Brady Memorial Fund for companion animals in Ohio
Massresources.org for Massachusetts pets
The Merrick Fund Foundation for rescues and shelters in central Pennsylvania
New York Save fir emergency care in New York City's five boroughs
P.A.L.S. (Pets Are Loving Support) for basic veterinary care in Atlanta
Pet Samaritan Fund for Salt Lake City, UT and its surrounding communities
PETS-DC for pets of HIV/AIDS patients in Washington DC
Rochester Hope for Pets unexpected or emergencies in Rochester, NY
RIVMA Companion Animal Foundation for Rhode Island
RUFF (Rescuing Unwanted Furry Friends) for Southern California
The Sampson Fund for critically ill or injured dogs in Cape Cod and the Islands of Massachusetts
San Francisco SPCA for residents of San Francisco
Save U.S. Pets Foundation for New Jersey
Shakespeare Animal Fund for Northern Nevada/Lake Tahoe on fixed incomes or with annual incomes below the federal poverty guidelines
STARrelief for urgent and routine care in Connecticut
Corgi Aid for rescued corgis before adoption
The Goldstock Fund emergencies for Golden Retrievers/Golden mixes
Labrador Harbor for California labs
Labrador-L Emergency Medical Assistance (LABMED) urgent care for abandoned or rescued Labs
Labrador Lifeline for Labrador retrievers
Please let me know if any of these organizations no longer provide assistance (that happens frequently) or if you know of any I've missed via Contact Us link.