Need Money for Vet Visits? Vouchers Can Help
Hoping to encourage cash-strapped pet owners to take their animals to the vet, Bayer HealthCare is now offering a $20 vet care voucher, which can be accessed online. (Zootoo Pet News Photo by Lee Gordon)
Need money for vet visits? Vouchers can help pet owners with the cost of veterinary care in a tough economy where so many struggle to make ends meet. Initiated by a healthcare company, the campaign hopes to curb the declining number of visits pets are making to the vet.
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. -- The American economy is facing one of its greatest downturns since the Great Depression. The claim, at this point, sounds like a broken record, but there is a reason for the repetition: economic woes continue to plague out-of-luck workers and families across the nation.
No one, it seems, including pets, is impervious to the poor economy's effects. One major health care company, is stepping up to help animals who continue to require veterinary care, despite their owners' thinning wallets.
Bayer HealthCare has announced it will distribute $250,000 worth of preventative care vouchers to needy pet owners, hoping to counter people's inability, or reluctance, to take their animals to the vet.
"It's an opportunity and a chance to download a voucher to use at any vet for wellness programs," said Joerg Ohle, president of Bayer HealthCare. "It's very important that consumers and pet owners understand preventative medicine in order to keep a healthy environment and a happy family."
Unlike several major banks and irresponsible home owners, animals denied veterinary care suffer through no fault of their own. When families don't have enough money to pay the bills, pets' medical needs sometimes pay the price.
"People will call and based on what they are explaining to us, the animal needs to be seen and they can't afford it," said Sondra Brown, DVM, of Tallahassee, Fla. "So my technicians will guide them through the night to make the pet comfortable."
The $20 vouchers, Bayer HealthCare hopes, might encourage people to actually bring their animals in to a veterinary clinic. The notion is all part of the company's "Help Your Pet, Get to The Vet" campaign, developed to remind pet owners that it is crucial to keep up with their animals' health care.
"Our goal is to help pets get to the vet," said Marty Becker, DVM. "I'm not only a practicing vet of 30 years, but I'm a lifetime pet owner and a pet lover. I'm concerned people are skipping visits to the vet because of the tough economic times."
The $20 voucher, accessible at GetToTheVet.com, isn't a truly substantial amount for most, but it may help. The ready-for-download voucher can be used nationwide at any licensed veterinary clinic for preventive care services.
"Research says that 50 percent of people are not going to the vet unless there are obvious signs," Becker said. "That concerns me because the pets that we have, we can talk to them. But they can't talk back."
The numbers are staggering.
According to Bayer HealthCare, more than 35 percent of pet owners say they have been cutting back on veterinary services. And more than 20 percent of pet owners say they are seriously considering limiting their veterinary wellness visits. Another 30 percent admitted their pet has not been to the vet for routine and or preventive care in the past six months.
"I definitely have seen a decrease in elective surgery," Brown said. "Spay, neuter, dental cleaning -- people are holding off on that stuff because it's too expensive. I hope it doesn't start costing them in the long run."
Consumers are quick to point out that if they have to decide between food on the table or health care for their pet, more likely than not, they choose the food.
That's not the case, though, with Meghan Welsh, of Tallahassee. She says her animals comes first, no matter what kind of financial struggles she may endure.
"My pets eat better than I do," Welsh joked. "There is no reason I could let them go. I would do without before I let my pets do without."
Brown says it is imperative that owners continue to stay on top of their animals' health and medical needs.
Becker agrees, saying routine visits to the vet can add years on to a pet's life.
"Pets age much faster than humans," Becker said. "So lets say you skip vet visits for one year. That's like a human saying, 'I'm not going to the dentist, the optometrist, not going to see my doctor until the year 2016.' And that sounds absurd."
Bayer Animal Health says the mission at the core of their campaign is to help protect, cure, and care for pets. The company hopes pet owners at home feel the same way, no matter what economic situation they presently face.
For more information about the $20 vouches, visit GetToTheVet.com.
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