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How much is that doggie on the sofa?

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I am not trying to start a fight here, but I have been wrestling with this concept for months now. How responsible is it to own animals if you are poor?

 

I currently have 3 - a dog and two cats. The second cat is a recent acquisition, adopted on Valentine’s Day this year. I only have insurance on the dog. I am considering rehoming the new kitten (8mos old) as my older cat is not accepting him well, and has become generally grumpy. I got the 2nd kitten as a companion for him, but it seems he isn’t thrilled about having a companion. My mistake.

 

The money question is a really serious one. Not all of us have family, friends with money, credit cards or even a savings account. Is it irresponsible for us to have pets?

 

I am disabled and live on disability. It isn’t much, but my dog has everything she needs, and just about everything she wants. Her insurance will cover a catastrophic illness or injury. But my cats are not so protected.

 

I was faced with either putting down or rehoming a dog three years ago because she developed major dental issues, to the tune of 3 to 5 thousand dollars. For someone with my resources it might as well have been 3 to 5 million. I was fortunate in that a couple from among her dog park friends stepped forward and agreed to take her. She is now 10 years old and very healthy and happy – which is of course what is most important.

 

But where do you draw the line between pet owning being feasible or not?

 

Poor people have always had pets. They did what they could for them and didn’t worry about the rest. A bullet was often the answer to suffering, and it was thought to be right and appropriate, if also sad. Nowadays most people have different ideas about what it means to be a responsible pet owner. For many of them this is synonymous with being a good, responsible parent. But how realistic is this?

 

As a disabled person, my quality of life would be dramatically reduced without a companion animal. I don’t think of my dog as my child, but I do think of her as a valued friend, and a great help in maintaining my mental health. I hope to have her for all her days, and have made arrangements for her if she should outlive me. But what about the average person with a car, a job, possibly a family, and a pet or two or six? I realize not everyone will have the same ideas about this, but I am interested in hearing some from Boards members.

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If you can give reasonable care, I don't have a problem, but if you pay big $$$$ for an animal then can't afford the vet care , feed etc then maybe you are being irresponsible. And showing a willingness to pay for expenses goes a long way. I have several friends who are Vets and they see a lot of clients who won't spend money on the upkeep of animals, yet will shell out big $$ for the animals-like the initial cost is all there is!

 

Being responsible does not mean you have to have the top of the line everything for your animals, but keeping them safe and feeding adequately are part and parcel fo pet ownership. If you want a pet, and can afford to purchase basic feed and vaccinations there is no problem here, but if you feel you need many pets and cannot afford the care of them, then it is irresponsibile to keep them all.

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I feel like this is one of those issues where you ask 10 people and get 11 different opinions. Like Pam said it's definitely irresponsible to pay big money for an animal and then balk when their upkeep costs are less than what you paid initially, and it's also irresponsible to have 20 animals if you can only pay for the basic upkeep (vaccines, food) of 2 animals. Honestly, beyond that I think it's fairly well personal preference.

 

Some people will pay upwards of tens of thousands of dollars to keep their pet alive a little longer. Personally, that's not something I'll do. I am willing to pay a few thousand if the procedure is entirely necessary, the dog is not old, it will not affect the quality of his life, and it has a good chance of success. Partly this is for monetary reasons. Though I adore my dogs and consider them family, I am not made of money and have a hard time justifying the practicality of thousands and thousands of dollars of treatment for an animal who will not live many more years anyway. Would I choose to drive my crappy car a few more years or cancel that vacation I was planning and spend that money to take care of my animals? In a heartbeat. Would I put my basic welfare in jeopardy? Absolutely not, and it would be incredibly irresponsible to. The other reason is quality of life, but I could write a book on that and it wasn't your question.

 

So many of the horror stories of animal abuse, especially large animals like horses, usually began when the owner, who may have had an appropriate number of animals to their income to start off with, suddenly falls on hard times. They then don't take the necessary steps to ensure their animals are taken care of, either by selling or rehoming at least a few, and the animals slowly waste away and endure a slow painful death by starvation or not being treated for illness/injury due to cost unless they are rescued. I can find countless examples of this exact scenario. Frankly it would have been a much kinder end to euthanize them or even put a bullet through their head than letting them starve or succumb to a painful injury.

 

My point is while you should certainly easily be able to take care of routine costs for your animals, you can't always budget or be prepared for every possible disaster. As long as you also have a plan in place to ensure your animals can be taken care of in case of a complete disaster, through a savings account, insurance, or rehoming some or all (temporarily or permanently), then you are a responsible pet owner in my book.

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It's a delicate balance in life, and I think the better question for being responsible is: what are you will to give up for your pet?

 

If it were all about money, then only the well-to-do who have cash to spare would own a pet, but there would be a sacrifice on the amount of time spent with the pet. Sure, the pet probably has the "best" healthcare, a dog walker, a trainer, a groomer, the "best" food, and generally wants for nothing... except more time with his/her person.

 

Now take the other extreme, a homeless person has nothing to offer a pet except to share whatever scrap of food can be found and time to be a companion. The training and walking happens during the time they spend together. Although there is a good chance the pet will pass away at a fairly young age, there is true mourning of the loss of a valued friend. The poor person also learns what they can to care for their friend so that they are together as long as possible. And, realistically with as many strays there are on the street, why not?

 

I am not rich, and lately my savings have been dwindling, but I have my priorities straight. I've been weaning myself off my two vices - both fairly physiologically painful to do separately let alone at the same time - because I know and have budgeted for the basic needs of my dogs. I know the monthly amount for their food, train and groom and vaccinate them myself, give them a quick exam at least twice a week to make sure they're still okay, and went to a low cost clinic to renew their rabies. This is all to keep the costs down for me. I also recently moved to find a better opportunity because there wasn't one where I was living, but in moving I had to leave Roxie, my 8 year old, 1,200 miles away with my mother because the stress would not have been fair to her and she's a special needs dog.

 

I consider myself responsible because I am willing to make those sacrifices. It might be a struggle, but I give my dogs the best care I'm capable of at the time, and work hard to do better in the future (even though it means I have to cut the time I spend with them). Being responsible means doing the best you can with what you have to work with, doing a job you feel is beneath you because you have another life depending on you.

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There are plenty of wealthy people who have pets and spend little time with them or pay dog trainers $$$$$$$ dollars to train the animal only to find out that once the trainer leaves the animal is back to poor manners or whatever it was being trained for.

 

I new an old man when I was teen whose clothes were tatered and was in the process of losing his home for back taxes. He had the cutest mutt one has ever seen. Evertime I crossed paths with him the dog was never on a leash, Constantly looked at him with pure respect and admiration and if any of you believe a dog can love , this dog loved this man.

 

I knew then, I would share my life with dogs. I wanted a dog to look at me that way, and be so in control and free.

 

When he died, he died in his bed, didnt lose his home, that dog would not leave that bed. The paramedics took the sheets off the dog got right back on the bed. It didnt matter that the body was gone.

 

A neighbor took that dog and loved and cared for him unitl his death at a ripe 12.

 

I don't if this man fed him a raw diet or high quality food or had special toys and was even able to pay vet bills. The dog never new how much money the man had and didnt care.post-13260-090154600 1342219516_thumb.jpg

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I think this will be an interesting topic to follow...thank you for starting it. And I agree that in the end there will be no right or wrong answer.

 

I think back to many years ago when you bought or, more likely, adopted a dog (or the barn dog had puppies). There was your basic country vet (who did not charge an arm and a leg and sometimes even made house calls.) There were no veterinarian specialists; no orthopedics, no behaviorists. You probably fed your dog Purina Dog Chow or Kal-Kan or Ken-L-Ration (which I think some of those canned foods were actually horse-meat) or table scraps. Many people did not get yearly vaccines on their dogs. And dental issues....well, who ever heard of that back then? Most of those dogs lived long and healthy lives.

 

Everything is so much more complicated today....part of our problem in society, I think. I compare it to white paint. It used to be you could go to the store and get a can of white paint. Now there are two hundred shades of white paint. :rolleyes: Too many choices making everything so much more complicated.

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I agree with beachdogz. This is an important thing to think about, and as with so many ethical questions, it cannot be sufficiently answered with an equation or simple syllogism.

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It is true that a dog doesn't know how much money you have, or care, just as they don't care if you get up looking all rumpled or have a bad hair day. All they know is how they feel and how they are treated.

 

I don't think money should be the largest determining factor in deciding whether one has a companion animal or not, but it should certainly figure in deciding how many to have, and what kind and size.

 

I don't think dogs being led on ropes around the hot city streets by homeless people have very good lives, but perhaps they are being loved in a fashion.

 

For me, and I try not to judge others, to be responsible means to do what it takes to keep my companion animals in good health and happy. This primarily means the best food I can afford (and I cannot afford the very best), appropriate health care, and lots of attention, training, love, and exercise. We live as a family.

 

I have never had more money coming in than just to get by, but if it ever came to that I would go hungry and buy dog food because I would understand what was happening and they would not. I don't run them to the vet over everything, and prefer to treat them at home whenever I can, but would go into debt if I had to, to give any one of them necessary health care. I wouldn't prolong their life past the point of the life no longer being of enjoyable quality, but I wouldn't want that for myself either. I have made a point of finding a vet who understands where I am coming from and who will always outline for me the options, being sensitive to my finances.

 

I limit myself to the number of animals I feel I can care for responsibly with what I have. I would have more dogs than I have now if I had more money.

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The question cannot be simplified down to solely the money issue in many cases. I can think of one Golden Retriever right off the bat that would probably be much happier eating ol roy with a poor owner that understood the fundamentals of dog training. That dog would be better off with fewer years of a in a home that understood it than more years in a home where it was frustrated its whole life.

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my dog has everything she needs, and just about everything she wants. Her insurance will cover a catastrophic illness or injury. But my cats are not so protected.

 

Any reason why not?

 

It seems to me that anyone without sufficient disposable income to cover emergencies should consider making provision for unexpected bills as you do for your dog.

 

Four of mine aren't insured, the BC is because IME they are dumb and reckless. Why not all of them? Because I have taken a calculated risk based on experience and know that I could cover the cost of treatment if necessary. I consider the risk higher than I am willing to take with the BC so have him insured. Gambling - yes, but only because I can afford to. If I couldn't I'd have fewer dogs and all would be insured.

 

A friend on low income has 6 dogs - none insured - but she has a savings account for them. She's been pretty lucky in the years I've known her but her old JRT (now 15) that developed Cushings at 10 has cost her quite a lot in vet bills.

 

Do you have any charities that will treat pets belonging to low income families on donation only? Here in the UK we have the PDSA for people on benefits who live close enough to a clinic. They have a limit on how many pets can be registered with them though and they are trying to weed out those who spend hundreds on buying a dog and then expect it to be treated for free.

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I find it interesting that so many have insurance on their pets. I know of only one person (who happens to have a BC) who has pet insurance. I honestly didn't think many people had it as it seemed like a bit of a waste-like nothing important was covered, you would have to fight to have things paid for, etc. When my cat was diagnosed with lymphoma it was the choice of chemo (which had no promises) or doing medication to help slow things down. I never thought insurance would cover chemo and the med's plus visits only added up to $300. That was my only experience with sickness in a pet although Levi did tear open his leg which needed staples. That was $250, I again, can't imagine pet insurance covering that.

 

Can anyone elaborate on what company they use and typically what is covered? And if anyone cares to share, how much does it cost on average?

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I have pet health insurance. I've had to use it twice; both times for bills over $1k. It paid 90% after the deductible and the office visit. I did some research before I chose the company, read ratings and chose Trupanion. I am VERY pleased with the company.

 

Cost is lower if you enroll a young puppy or dog. Hannah's premium for a $315 deductible was under $34 per month. I have since raised the deductible to 1K and added another dog, and the two dogs together are under $50 per month.

 

HGE was covered, as was an injury from an accident requiring a few stiches.

 

A drawback: I'm not sure about their working dog policy, but I think it is a question asked on the enrollment form. However, Hannah does not work, and from what I am reading on this board, she likely isn't a candidate for sheepdogin' since she's an aussie/border collie cross and a pet not acclimated to running very hard in the heat.

 

 

ETA: I edited the last part because I use fans more than I use air conditioning and we do some hiking in the summer

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I have pet health insurance. I've had to use it twice; both times for bills over $1k. It paid 90% after the deductible and the office visit. I did some research before I chose the company, read ratings and chose Trupanion. I am VERY pleased with the company.

 

 

I just looked at their site and noticed this:

Yes, but for pets that have not been neutered or spayed prior to their first birthday (or within 30 days of being adopted), they will not be covered for illnesses related to prostate problems, hormonal skin conditions, testicular tumors, perianal tumors, mammary tumors, uterine and ovarian conditions, birthing, or injury due to fighting, collision with a motor vehicle or aggressive behavior.

 

I understand that the majority of stray/runaway dogs are not neutered and that is why they don't cover getting hit by a car but... my dog was not fixed until I got him at age 2. He is no more likely to run off than a dog that was fixed prior to their first birthday. So, I find that rule strange and obviously, getting hit by a car is a big financial fear for a lot of people along with a serious illness.

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If you put the money you would pay for a health insurance plan into a special pet care account every month instead, you will likely have as much or more resources to pay for an unexpected illness or injury. And no claims to file or arguing about what is covered.

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If you put the money you would pay for a health insurance plan into a special pet care account every month instead, you will likely have as much or more resources to pay for an unexpected illness or injury. And no claims to file or arguing about what is covered.

 

I agree. I can see it being handy but they will raise rates (I read reviews online plus what insurance company doesn't raise rates) and they don't cover a lot of things. I feel if you have $30-100 per month to throw at an insurance company for your pet then you should just put it in a savings account. Even for a $1,000 claim you still paid for the office visit ($40 at my vet, $110 for the ER vet), plus 10% ($100) as they only over 90%, plus a deductible ($315) plus what you paid each month for that year ($$350-$1200)....so you really don't make out that much. Plus all the hassle of paying for insurance, filing claims, etc. I could see if you had a huge several thousand dollar bill you might do better but over the years you will pay for that bill in monthly payments. I know it can be a life saver for some but I don't like insurance companies and would rather have less of them in my pocket. I feel like insurance companies always win in the end.

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Any reason why not?

 

Only one. I can't afford it.

 

My cats are indoor only - except for a covered run which they can access through the bathroom window. I keep them up to date on vaccinations, scale their teeth myself (the dog too) and so they are at less risk than my dog, who goes out and about. She runs in the hills and at a dog park with my dog walker and several other dogs, so has more risk of getting hurt or sick than my cats.

 

It doesn't mean the cats can't have problems. But this is another reason I'm thinking of re-homing the young cat. If two animals got sick at the same time I'd be screwed - especially if it were both cats. I'm up for a little roulette, but only so much. Life is lumpy - I cover the bases I can and try not to obsess about the rest.

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I just looked at their site and noticed this:

Yes, but for pets that have not been neutered or spayed prior to their first birthday (or within 30 days of being adopted), they will not be covered for illnesses related to prostate problems, hormonal skin conditions, testicular tumors, perianal tumors, mammary tumors, uterine and ovarian conditions, birthing, or injury due to fighting, collision with a motor vehicle or aggressive behavior.

 

I understand that the majority of stray/runaway dogs are not neutered and that is why they don't cover getting hit by a car but... my dog was not fixed until I got him at age 2. He is no more likely to run off than a dog that was fixed prior to their first birthday. So, I find that rule strange and obviously, getting hit by a car is a big financial fear for a lot of people along with a serious illness.

 

You are likely to find drawbacks to any policy. It is about what works for you and your circumstances, your own personal comfort level et al. I like the assurance of insurance coupled with Care Credit.

 

Had I done as the other poster suggested and put my premiums into an account, I would have lost a good deal of money. It's the luck of the draw.

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I feel like insurance companies always win in the end.

 

Of course they do. It's a for-profit industry. The majority of people have to lose money using their services, or they couldn't remain profitable.

 

ETA: I am very glad it was the other way for you, terrecar!

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I think it depends on the person and how capeable they are of handling finances. for example I am lower income, yet I have no debt, I pay every single bill the moment in arrives, I regularly help out other people finacially, and have 8 dogs(all spayed/neutered) 2 Rabbits(spayed), 2 birds, 1 snake and over 150 Gerbils, all are in large clean homes, fed the best, vetted etc.. I transfer money from each paycheck to a seperate account, this is for emergancies so if something happens beyond my means to fix, I can draw from that account. thus far I have only used it to help animals in need around me who's owners did not have such a fund, so I pay the vet bill and they pay me back as they are able. IOW if you are capeable of handling your finances, do whatever you want lol

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IOW if you are capeable of handling your finances, do whatever you want lol

 

Absolutely right. I'm sure we all know people with very healthy incomes who are always in debt and others, like you, who have much less but don't exceed your means.

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I think it depends on the person and how capeable they are of handling finances. for example I am lower income, yet I have no debt, I pay every single bill the moment in arrives, I regularly help out other people finacially, and have 8 dogs(all spayed/neutered) 2 Rabbits(spayed), 2 birds, 1 snake and over 150 Gerbils, all are in large clean homes, fed the best, vetted etc.. I transfer money from each paycheck to a seperate account, this is for emergancies so if something happens beyond my means to fix, I can draw from that account. thus far I have only used it to help animals in need around me who's owners did not have such a fund, so I pay the vet bill and they pay me back as they are able. IOW if you are capeable of handling your finances, do whatever you want lol

 

Just wondering... Could you do all that on $879.40 per month?

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I find it interesting that so many have insurance on their pets. I know of only one person (who happens to have a BC) who has pet insurance. I honestly didn't think many people had it as it seemed like a bit of a waste-like nothing important was covered, you would have to fight to have things paid for, etc. When my cat was diagnosed with lymphoma it was the choice of chemo (which had no promises) or doing medication to help slow things down. I never thought insurance would cover chemo and the med's plus visits only added up to $300. That was my only experience with sickness in a pet although Levi did tear open his leg which needed staples. That was $250, I again, can't imagine pet insurance covering that.

 

Can anyone elaborate on what company they use and typically what is covered? And if anyone cares to share, how much does it cost on average?

 

Not much use to you as I'm in the UK but I pay £15 pm for our 6 year old BC with an excess of £70 for each new claim (paid only once for ongoing conditions).

 

Chemo and stapling would certainly be covered if the cost exceeds the excess.

 

This is the cover I get taken from the company's web site -

 

Up to £7,000 vet’s fees Vet’s fees can be very expensive. With AXA pet insurance you won’t have to worry about treatment costs. You can rely on up to £7,000 a year in vet’s fees for your cat or dog.

 

No time limits on your pet’s treatment Many insurers stop paying for your pet’s treatment after a specified time. Not AXA. We will to continue to cover your cat or dog’s long term conditions for as long as your pet is insured with us.

 

Up to £2million third party liability Bad dog? If someone is injured or their property is damaged as a result of an incident involving your pet, AXA pet insurance covers you for legal liability up to £2,000,000.

 

Behavioural and complementary therapies covered Your pet can benefit from complementary and behavioural treatment if recommended by your vet, such as physiotherapy, hydrotherapy and acupuncture. We’ll pay up to £250 to cover each condition.

 

Specialist diets covered If a clinical diet is recommended for your cat or dog and is only available from your vet, we’ll pay up to £200 to treat each condition.

 

Up to £3,000 holiday cancellation cover If you have to miss or cut short your trip because your pet is injured, has gone missing, or requires life-saving treatment, we will pay up to £3,000 towards your unrecoverable holiday costs.

 

Up to £1,000 protection for your pet overseas If your pet is abroad under the Pet Travel Scheme and falls sick or is injured, you can rely on up to £1,000 to pay for vet’s fees overseas, subject to conditions.

 

Up to £2,000 quarantine costs Bringing your pet back from abroad? If your cat or dog has travelled on the Pet Travel Scheme, we will pay quarantine costs up to £2,000 per trip for up to 3 trips per year.

 

Up to £500 accidental damage cover If your pet causes damage to someone else’s personal property, you can claim up to £500 to cover your costs to repair or replace it.

 

Up to £750 emergency kennel/cattery costs If you cannot look after your pet while you or a member of your family is in hospital, we will pay boarding fees of £100 a week up to £750 in total.

 

If you lose your pet you won’t lose money If your pet is lost or stolen, you can claim up to £1,000 to advertise for its safe return and offer up to £250 as a reward. We will also refund the purchase price of your pet up to £750 if you do not get it back.

 

Financial protection if the worst should happen In the sad event of your pet dying or being put to sleep as a result of an accident or illness covered by your insurance, we will pay you the purchase price of your pet, up to £1,000. We will also pay up to £100 for the cost of cremation. This cover is not offered by many insurers.

 

You have to shop around to get the best value cover you can, and also make sure you don't choose a company that tries its best not to pay out.

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Of course they do. It's a for-profit industry. The majority of people have to lose money using their services, or they couldn't remain profitable.

 

ETA: I am very glad it was the other way for you, terrecar!

 

I agree. Of course some people do well with the insurance companies but I am not known to be lucky. I am definitely not living comfortably financially by most peoples standards but we pay our bills, have no debt besides a mortgage, and have savings available to take care of emergencies. Sure, I couldn't afford $10,000 in vet fees but my dog and cats eat great food, have all the things they need and (I) want ;). Like someone else stated, most dogs want to go for daily hikes, have training to make them balanced and happy, and have a mentally and physically fulfilled life instead of the newest toys, expensive beds, holistic food, etc. You do what is best for your circumstances but at the end of the day your pets would rather be with you doing something fun than chewing apart that expensive toy you bought.

 

Bordercolliecrazy: Why do you have 150 gerbils? I just imagine the coolest maze of tunnels going through an entire room dedicated to them. :D

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Just wondering... Could you do all that on $879.40 per month?

 

I have done it to a smaller extent, but its a struggle, and I dont have extra for..well anything really!

 

Bordercolliecrazy: Why do you have 150 gerbils? I just imagine the coolest maze of tunnels going through an entire room dedicated to them

 

http://www.facebook.com/prairieclan

http://users.accesscomm.ca/k9furkids/gerbilsite/

 

:)

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Two vet bills, one ER and one regular vet 1500 and 1700 for $3200 total.

 

Two deductibles @315 plus one ER visit fee @150 and one reg. vet fee at 55 = $835 amounts not covered

 

(3200-835)X .10 = 236.50 My percentage

 

$236.50 + 835 = $1071.50 my out of pocket for two occurrences

 

Add year's worth of premiums (this is overstated since I had only had the insurance for a few months and the premiums are under $34) $34 X12 = $408

 

So, my total out of pocket including a year's worth of premiums: $1479.50

 

For $3200 in vet bills I paid $1479.50, giving me a savings of $1720.50

 

Had the illness/accident not been covered I'd have been out $408 or less. Had I not had insurance, I'd have been out $1720.50. Additionally, at current interest rates it would have taken about 7 or 8 years to accrue enough money to pay the bill.

 

 

ETA: These numbers are approximate as I don't want to fish out my bills just to get a "to the penny" figure

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