The date is now March 7, 2020. Anxiously tapping our feet, my family and I wait for the doctor in the examination room. However, my parents and I have different worries. While I silently pray that my dog, Dasom, will come back to us, my mother and father are sweating bullets over the medical bills.
Upon our urgent visit to a neighboring animal clinic, the veterinarian asked if Dasom was showing signs of abnormal behavior. We respond back with her sudden loss of appetite, weight loss, and lethargy. The veterinarian asks if we spayed her, and we say that we have not. After running several tests, including blood work and abdominal radiographs (x-rays), my dog is diagnosed with pyometra.
Pyometra is extremely common, as 50% of all unspayed female dogs, aged ten or above are susceptible to developing it. Pyometra is a bacterial infection in the uterus, where the uterine lining gets thicker, preparing for pregnancy. However, if pregnancy does not occur after a few heat cycles, cysts, bacteria, and thick uterine walls will further lead to infections since white blood cells cannot enter the uterus. Most commonly occurring in older, non-spayed, female canines following a heat cycle, pyometra is a life-threatening condition in need of immediate surgery. If treatment is not performed, the toxic effect of the pus will be fatal.
The veterinarian strongly advised us for immediate surgery, but looking at the medical fees, my parents hesitated. The total was $3,200. I know they adore Dasom to the moon and back, but it was difficult financially. While they went outside to “compromise,” my sister held Dasom in her arms, while my fingers flew across my phone keypad, searching for affordable options. I was losing hope until I discovered the Affordable Animal Hospital. Located on Eagle Rock Boulevard, Los Angeles, it claims to provide high-quality services at fair prices.
My family rushed to the pet clinic, where we were greeted by a considerate veterinarian. After running a few blood tests, he offered a free abdominal ultrasound, which costs nearly $238 on average, according to the University of Illinois College of Veterinary Medicine. Setting the same diagnosis as the previous veterinary for pyometra, they present her critical situation. They needed to immediately perform an emergency spaying surgery (ovariohysterectomy); surgical removal of the uterus, and ovaries.
I asked the veterinarian for the total medical bill, and he replied with an estimate of $1,600, including postoperative fees. Exchanging looks, my parents agreed to take the deal and signed all the paperwork.
Dasom was admitted on March 7 and underwent surgery. I cried and prayed all night for her until we were notified of the successful surgery on March 8, when we visited. Discharged on March 9, the vet advised us to give her the prescribed medicine and monitor closely during her two week healing period. After discharging with an Elizabethan collar — to prevent licking of the surgical wound, we were not allowed to take her outside or bathe her. Thanking the staff and the kind veterinarian who reassured us when we explained our financial situation, we drove back onto the freeway with lifted hearts and relieved smiles. Watching her return to her normal self, making her strange chicken noises, and demanding for the windows to be pulled down, I couldn’t help but be grateful for the affordable clinic that saved my dog’s life.
From the discovery of my dog’s sickness till the end of her discharge, I realized how one’s financial situation can determine the life and death of one’s pet, a member of the family. If not for the hospital that provided equally exceptional services at reasonable prices, I would have lost an important part of my life. I am grateful to continue the deep bond since Dasom was a mere three-month-old baby till her now, happy and healthy self as a seven-year-old.
Joanne Chae, Grade 10