Owners in a bind over vet bills: Situations often disturbing

The costs of gas and electricity, fuel and groceries are skyrocketing. Life has become much more expensive in recent months, and as a result more and more people are affected, as can be seen in the video below:

Pets also seem to be victims of the rising cost of living, according to a tour on RTL Nieuws along various organizations.

desperate

According to the National Information Center for Companion Animals (LICG), they are increasingly confronted with distressing situations where people ‘make their animals suffer unnecessarily because they put off a visit to the vet or are unable to pay for a necessary operation’ . “People are knocking on our door in desperation, they don’t know what to do anymore because they can’t afford it anymore.”

The organization has already received 34 requests for help this year, compared to only 4 in 2020. They often refer these pet owners to organizations like the Foundation for the Promotion of Pet Welfare. They help dog and cat owners who are (temporarily) dependent on the food bank and who cannot or insufficiently provide basic care for their pets, especially in emergency medical care.

Already 200 requests

This fund is also seeing a significant increase in the number of people and pets in need. “Last year we had a total of 180 applications, this year we have already reached 200 applications. And I expect that there will be many more in the coming months,” says chairman Lilianne van Doorne to RTL Nieuws.

“We are available 24 hours a day to help people and animals. These are often people who live on 40 or 50 euros a week. They often say: don’t get a pet. But such an animal is often the only , people have , you can’t take that away from them.”

Shame

Van Doorne often sees disturbing situations. “If people wait too long to take their dog or cat to the vet because of the cost, a minor injury can turn into a serious infection. Then there’s the embarrassment that prevents them from going to the vet. And then you get an increasing problem, because of course the costs of treatment also increase We work with strict criteria, but we try to help where we can We do not put an animal to sleep, nor is it possible to bring it to a shelter because it is overcrowded. “

So what do they do? “We’ll see what it costs, and then I’ll call the vets to see if I can get a discount. Then we’ll see if we can work out a payment arrangement.”

Dierenbescherming also informs RTL Nieuws that they have the impression that more and more animal owners are experiencing financial problems. “We understand from an initial count that there are several shelters that are experiencing an increase in people giving up their animals because they are struggling with costs and vet bills.”

Consultation of 40 euros

As mentioned before, rising costs of living are making it harder for pet owners to make ends meet, but so is the increase in vet costs. According to the LICG, vet fees have risen sharply in recent years. “We did a calculation based on the rates of around 20 vet practices and we see that the cost of spaying or neutering your dog or cat has increased by around 13 to 21 per cent in the last five years.

An analysis by Dierenartskiezen.nl, a comparison site for veterinarians in the Netherlands, also shows that the costs for the veterinarian are increasing. At the request of RTL Nieuws, they have compared the rates for a number of common treatments in 2019 and 2022. Data from around 600 practices were examined.

Compare the prices for 2019 and 2022 here:

Response vets

In a response to RTL Nieuws, the Royal Dutch Society for Veterinary Medicine (KNMvD) stated to RTL Nieuws that they do not have insight into the rates for veterinary practices under the Competition Act, but that they do see a number of developments that may explain a possible price increase:

  • Inflation plays an important role in price increases. After all, food prices for the vet have risen enormously in recent times. An example: If the raw materials become more expensive, or if medicine has to be supplied by other means (e.g. due to delivery problems), this will also be reflected in the (purchasing) prices of medicine. This means that not only will the medication itself become more expensive, but the costs for, for example, an operation or hospitalization will also increase.
  • In addition, in recent years there has been a huge increase in the demand for high-quality and specialized care by pet owners. The investments that clinics have made to meet this demand (including purchasing equipment, hiring specialists, etc.) will have to be passed on to prices. Depending on how specialized a practice is, costs can quickly vary enormously. The owner is free to choose which clinic he/she wants to turn to.”
  • The explosive increase in the number of pets and the increased demand for high-quality or specialty care has also increased the veterinarian’s workload. Veterinarians are therefore forced to make choices, e.g. centralizing emergency care in emergency clinics, organizing consultations differently, etc. These choices could in some cases lead to price changes.

KNMvD advises owners to consider pet insurance. “These insurances cover (a large part of) the costs. This can prevent unpleasant situations from arising where a bill cannot be paid, or that necessary treatment must be deviated from due to the expected costs.”

‘Think about buying a pet’

Despite the fact that it is becoming more difficult for many to pay the vet bill, the organizations hope that pet owners will continue to take their sick animals to the vet. “We hope that people will always put the welfare of their animals at the top of their priority list when cutting costs,” says a spokesperson for Animal Welfare.

The LICG adds: “We advise people to think carefully about buying a pet. They should also be able to provide an animal with lifelong medical care if an animal needs it. Not only have vet costs increased, including the cost of ( diet). ) feed, medicine and parasite control, for example.”

On its website, LICG has mapped out the average cost of a pet and has also published a list of organizations where people can turn to who are facing financial difficulties with medical care for their pets.

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