NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Medical advances and high-tech treatments are making it easier and easier for pet owners to run up big bills on pet health care.
When it comes down to life and death, some New Yorkers will spare no expense on the love of a pet.
“He had a crushed skull, there was actual tire marks on his body,” Jen Curti told CBS 2’s Kristine Johnson.
Curti’s Jack Russell Terrier “Valentino” was near death after being hit by a car in March 2012. Curti rushed him to Blue Pearl Veterinary Hospital, where he spent two weeks on a ventilator in intensive care.
“Without the assistance of us breathing for him, he would not be breathing and he would have died,” explained Dr. Benjamin Davidson.
Valentino’s injuries healed, and now Curti is paying more than $50,000 in hospital bills.
“Everyday he just gave us another hope, I just looked at him and I couldn’t think of stopping,” she said.
More and more people are using advanced medical interventions like prosthetic limbs and stem cell therapy to save their animal companions.
Peter Shenkin didn’t hesitate when his Boston Terrier named “Sam Adams” needed a $10,000 pacemaker.
“His condition was so dire that he could have dropped off any minute, they put him in intensive care,” Shenkin said.
The decision was an easy one for Shenkin and veterinary experts told CBS 2 that he is not alone.
“There’s a really good chance for great quality of life afterwards. Most people consider it a worthwhile cost,” said Dr. Jessica Gentile.
Spending big bucks on pet health isn’t a behavior exclusive to dog owners.
Dr. Tina Waltke’s cat “Max” needed a specialized urinary bypass surgery to keep him from dying of kidney failure. Doctors implanted his body with a special device and have treated him with stem cell therapy, for $13,000.
“Once we knew that there was a chance to save him we just went for it,” Waltke said.
Even common canine conditions can be costly.
“Herbie” almost died of leptospirosis, a serious bacterial infection, when he was only a few weeks old. It took surgery, dialysis, blood transfusions, and three weeks in intensive care to save his life.
“They told us he had a 10 percent chance of living. It was tens of thousands of dollars,” said Herbie’s owner Lisa Roumell.
Experts told CBS 2 that more important that the money is understanding the animal’s chances of survival.
“If what you can do to give your pet alleviation from suffering, no matter what that act might be. That’s the proper and ethical thing to do,” said Humane Society spokesperson Kirsten Thiesen.
Pet owners said it’s something you can’t put a price tag on.
“I haven’t added it up. He was part of my family, money can come back, an animal can’t,” said Curti.
Pet insurance is an option, but each plan is different and not everything is covered.
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