Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Beating the High Cost of Vet Care

Molly, my cat, recently was attacked by Huey, one of my dogs. I had gone to Value Vet to try to save on the high cost of veterinary care at the local vet, which charges $80 just to walk in the door. Value Vet charged $29. Then a friend in Lafayette, Tennessee, told me about her vet, who only charges $24 to walk in the door, and he doesn’t even charge for an office visit if you get shots for your pet.

After spending $250-plus at Value Vet, I was told Molly had a broken rib and diaphragmatic hernia and that it would cost anywhere from $2,000 to $4,000 for the risky surgery. So I sought a second opinion from Dr. Geoff Evetts in Lafayette, whose fee for the same surgery is between $500 and $700.

Dr. Evetts looked at the Value Vet films and said he thought Molly had neither a broken rib nor a diaphragmatic hernia. He prescribed a two-week course of Clavamox (only $19 as opposed to $28 at Value Vet) and told me to bring her back in two weeks so he could take new X-rays under sedation, which Value Vet did not do.

The new films showed that Molly was perfectly normal inside. I asked about a lump on her back, so Dr. Evetts inserted a hypodermic needle and drew out some pus. He said he wanted to keep her overnight and go in to see what was causing the abscess. As it happened, Molly had suffered a puncture wound inside, but not on the outside. He said that was fairly common because a cat’s skin is pliable. Dr. Evetts kept her overnight and performed the surgery. Here’s Molly going home after her surgery:

I also took both Delaney and Sally in for a full panel of shots and a six-month supply each for Interceptor. Here's Delaney getting his blood drawn for his heart-worm test:

All told, total cost for three animals, a surgery, two rounds of shots (including heart-worm tests) for two dogs, two six-months supply of Interceptor, one three-month supply for Frontline Plus for the cat, a set of X-rays, overnight boarding was roughly $420. Huey still needs to go in for his round of shots and a six-month supply of Interceptor, so add on $108 and there is a grand total of $528. Not bad for preventive maintenance of four animals, I’d say.

I plan to ask Value Vet for a refund based on its misdiagnosis of Molly’s injuries and from now on, it is worth it to me to make the four-hour round-trip drive for peace of mind where my fur family is concerned.

Anyone interested in saving big bucks on pet care, can contact Evetts Animal Clinic at 615-666-7350 (don’t let the phone prefix scare you). The clinic is at 730 Highway 52 Bypass West, Lafayette, TN 37083.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Menopausal Haiku

White fur grows on my face
like on a long-forgotten
Spanish olive

Friday, March 5, 2010

Playing God

Loving Huey is like loving a convict.

He’s a bad boy, for sure.

At 12:45 a.m. Wednesday, Molly slipped out of my bedroom into the bathroom while I was trying to finish up the edits on my book and then I heard a huge commotion.




I ran into the bathroom to find Huey going after Molly’s midsection. To her credit, she put up a good fight and the only blood shed was Huey’s. It took a couple of tries, but eventually I was able to grab Huey’s collar and drag him into my office and close the door.

Poor Molly lay there on her back moaning in agony amid her own excrement and urine. I felt so sorry for her.


This was at least the third dog attack in her seven years she has endured.

The first being when I rescued her from outside the local grocery with a puncture wound in her head; she was only three months old at the time. Being the sucker that I am for the downtrodden, forlorn, and cast-out creatures of the world, we had a new family member.

Huey, of course, showed up two years ago and refused to leave. When I told him to go home, he looked at me with those eyes and said: “But I AM home!” So being the sucker that I am for the downtrodden, forlorn, and cast-out creatures of our world, we had a new family member.

Huey used to get along fine with Molly and they even would get on the bed together, not that Molly liked it all that much. But she didn’t show fear and Huey was cool with that.

The second time was when she sneaked outside and Huey happened upon her in the brush and got a hold of her then. I was able to rescue her that day, but it was also the day I got Bartonella, aka Cat Scratch Fever, from a tick bite acquired during the rescue.

After Huey found her in the brush, things changed. Molly became a 100 percent house cat and I kept the two separated.


It didn’t look good, so at 1 a.m. I called my neighbor, Mike, the amateur taxidermist and asked him to please come shoot Molly and put her out of her misery.

“I’m already in bed,” he protested.

“I know. I’m so sorry. I just can’t pull the trigger.”

“Oh, all right. I’ll be right over.”

So he came over with his rifle, or shotgun, heck if I know what was what. I was too damn distraught.

Then I led him into my bathroom to show him my poor little feline. This time, she had gotten back on all fours and was crouching next to the box of magazines. She was clearly traumatized.

Mike and I then checked her out and he said she looked like she would be all right and that if she got worse overnight, he’d come do the deed the next day. I agreed.

Next day, Mike called to check on her. She was doing better so we decided to wait. Of course, she wouldn’t eat or drink at all, and that worried me.

By Thursday, I had gotten her to drink some water, which she has been lapping up ever since and this morning, Friday, she actually emptied her bladder for the first time since the horrifying event.

Still, she wasn’t eating. I decided to get her to Value Vet in Bellevue, and they called with a cancellation for 5:20 p.m. The vet was nice as she could be and checked her out, said she looked fine, but to be sure, we needed to take a couple of X-rays, which showed she has a broken rib and a herniated diaphragm.

The vet referred me to a clinic in Murfreesboro, Tennessee, and said it had affordable prices. When I called the clinic, they quoted me an estimate of $2,000 to get her fixed up good as new. Only thing, I don’t have two-thousand-freakin' dollars to get her fixed up. The vet said sometimes cats will heal themselves with scar tissue in an injury such as this, but she advised surgery was the only way she would be repaired fully.

Ever since this happened, I’ve been treating Huey differently. Now I am viewing him more like the perpetrator he is. I’ve not been petting and loving on him as I did before this happened. I don’t want to reward bad behavior. I know he knows something has changed, but I don’t think he understands why. When all is said and done, he is just an animal with animal instincts.

So here I sit on a Friday night, realizing I have to play God with a cat and a dog, both of whom I dearly love. And it is something I don’t want to do.