Losing a four-legged friend

I am writing this letter in the hopes that the process of

doing so will help to ease my pain and anger due to an injustice I feel

I have suffered — a situation that I'm sure others have found

themselves in.

I am a single, middle-aged man who has never had

children. Instead, I have filled my home with the four-legged variety.

In mid-November, my 11-year-old shepherd, Spike, was hit by a

car. Because it was a Saturday, my options were limited. Luckily

(or so I thought) I found an animal hospital in my town of

North Bend open and willing to examine my dog. When I dropped

him off, I tried leaving $300 in cash, knowing that X-rays and

such would be expensive. They declined my offer.

Later, I received a phone call saying that Spike had a

broken leg and that the surgery was going to cost $1,500. I told them

I didn't have the cash available, but that I would be happy to

make payments in order to save my companion of so many years.

I was told that the vet's office was not a bank, but $800 cash

would probably be enough to get the leg amputated.

I didn't know what to do. I even tried offering the titles to

my vehicles in order to show good faith toward paying my bill,

but was rudely informed that the hospital was not a "lending

institution." Calls were made to other vets in the area with the same


After three days of anguish, I made the heartbreaking

decision to have Spike put to sleep. I hated feeling like I had been

backed into a corner. Didn't these doctors care? I had tried to show

that I had integrity and would make good on the bill, but that

didn't seem to matter.

At the beginning of December, I was sent a bill for $267

for services rendered by the vet hospital. In an attempt to make

a point, I sent $50, with the intention of paying off the bill in

payments. Recently I was sent a letter stating that if I didn't pay the

bill in full, my account would be sent to collections. Wouldn't it be

better to charge me interest and take payments rather than giving

up to 50 percent of the receivables to a collection agency for a

$217 balance?

I have heard that a lot of veterinary practices are being

bought by corporations and turned into publicly traded big-business

opportunities, much like some of our human health-care

organizations. Trading the "care" in health

care for the dollars of the bottom line seems to be a dangerous trend

that is going to hurt families more as time goes on.

I lost a special friend. I hope I never lose a human member of

my family due to the greed and insensitivity I am seeing more

and more in our health-care systems and our society as a whole.

William J. Shardelman

North Bend

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