2011-04-01 / Letters

Animals Vs. Humans

Dear Editor,

On Saturday, March 26, my dog Jolie was hit by a car on Beach Channel Drive and Beach 84 Street at around 3:30 p.m. I’m not sure if the driver saw her but I’m sure they must have known they hit something or noticed the commotion going on immediately afterwards. All I know was my dog was limping in circles and crying in the middle of the road. I ran to Jolie in the center of the busy street, not aware of traffic coming or going. I did hear the two boys yell “Oh my God that dog just got hit.“ They had been walking their dog across the road, the reason my dog took off running. We all watched helplessly as the front right tire of the car ran over her. It all happened in a second, too quick for anyone to take action.

I am not blaming anyone, not my dog or the driver. Jolie did what most dogs do when they see another dog, she ran after it to sniff it and see if it was a potential future playmate. She and Misty were, as usual, just steps behind me as I went to open the front door. They must have sensed the dog before I saw it and bolted past me, unaware of the tragedy that was to befall her, only looking at the fun ahead. Similar to a child running into the street after a ball or to meet a friend across the street. Unaware of the danger ahead, completely innocent in their behavior.

All I know is that I wanted to pick her up and get her to a hospital right away. Jolie is part of our family. We love her as one of us. If you have ever had a pet whom you love, you know they are completely devoted to you. They are there to please you. If no one else is around and you are sad or lonely your pet is ALWAYS there. They don’t judge you, talk back or yell at you. They just look at you with their big eyes and you know they love you and will always be there for you. How could you not love something so precious ... unconditional love, all you have to do is love them back and take care of them, how hard can that be? Well I was about to find out.

Broke now, after paying all the expenses to move into our new home and storage costs, I ran to the hospital with Jolie and my youngest daughter. We went to the closest animal hospital we knew of that could handle the tragedy, Valley Steam Veterinary Hospital. At first they were very kind and took us in. The intern examined Jolie and then went to get the doctor. After his initial evaluation the doctor said he thought her pelvic bone was fractured. They took Jolie to the back.

Next, one of the administrators approached my daughter and me. She asked if we wanted to see Jolie. After we went to see her and gave her our kisses goodbye and wishes for her to get better soon, she told us to meet her at the front desk. After a few minutes she showed me an estimate for Jolie’s health care, $1,985.00. Mind you I took a deep breath and immediately thought to myself what the hell was I going to do now? She needed the care. I wrote them a check hoping beyond hope that one of my other bills hadn‘t cleared yet. I felt the financial juggling act beginning again.

When the administrator came back with my check in hand I knew the news wouldn’t be good and of course it wasn’t. They wanted the entire amount (according to them this was the deposit). I asked them to give me a moment. I called the local Humane Society from their lobby. I was given a name and number of a traveling vet. I called and after a few minutes of explaining my situation I was told by the man on the other end that they could take care of Jolie, the entire package would just cost me $1,250.00. Well that was cheaper than what I was being asked to pay now. I asked the man if I could give him some now and make payments toward the balance. He bluntly told me they were not a financial institution and they could not do that. He told me, as did the administrator from Valley Stream, that I could apply for Care Credit. I explained to him, as I did to her, I just went through a horrible divorce and my credit was crap.

He said they were not a Charity and there was nothing they could do. At this point I couldn’t hold back anymore. I felt violated. As if my dog’s health was a commodity, that her care went to the bidder who could finagle the most money from me. What about her life? What about the fact she was a member of our family and we needed to help her? Didn’t anyone have any compassion when it came to these situations? I mean it wasn’t as if I threw my dog into the street and intentionally meant for her to get critically injured. It wasn’t as if I was financially planning for this to happen, in this economy and with so many Americans out of work! Who the hell has $2,000 sitting in a bank account for the “What If Moment”? Really!

“But if this were a human being that got hit by a car and taken to the emergency room they wouldn’t be asked to pay before medical services were provided,” I said.

His response, “Animals lives are not valued like human lives.” What! In the words of my teenager daughter OMG! And this is a person who is supposed to tend to and value the lives of animals? If this were an attending doctor in an emergency room would you want them to take care of you or your loved ones?

I hung up and felt that all too familiar feeling of despair and helplessness descend upon me. My daughter began to bemoan our financial situation and

I began what most single mothers do, blame myself for the entire situation at hand. I went to the desk in tears and told them I obviously had no choice but to bring Jolie home and pray for the best. As I went back to my daughter in the waiting room I saw that she had also broken out in tears. We sat holding each other as a young child ran up and down the waiting area smiling and playing, trying to get our attention innocently, not knowing why we couldn’t play with her at that moment. A new kitten played in a cage next to us, innocence, Jolie was just like them just an hour ago and now we didn’t know if she would live or die and there was nothing I could do to help her.

The administrator came back and said they would rework the bill taking off what they didn’t need to do right now and at least keep her overnight to stabilize her. Thank God, I thought, maybe someone had come to their senses or compassion finally won over money. They told us to call tomorrow, Sunday, after 12:00 p.m. for an update.

We went home and I took our other dog, Misty, for a walk. In all the commotion of rushing Jolie to the hospital Misty was left alone at home. Misty had been right behind Jolie but she had stopped short when I screamed, but she saw what happened to her sister. She was obviously in distress. Her nose was dry, her stomach was upset and she wouldn’t leave my side. She has slept in my arms for the past two nights.

We were in the middle of moving when we called the vet on Sunday. The doctor gave us an update but nothing could be confirmed without x-rays, did I want to get them? I said of course I did. I wanted to do everything I could to make sure Jolie was getting what she needed to make her better. He said that they needed more money on my account. I said we were moving and I wasn’t sure what I could do but I would do my best to get there.

As it turned out we didn’t get back home until late and after feeding everyone it was 10:00 p.m. Worn out and exhausted I called the hospital. They had given Jolie the x-rays and the doctor gave a positive but dire forecast for her health. They would know better when the experts looked over the x-rays in the morning.

I called this morning again. The administrator said Jolie was not scheduled for release. I said I needed to come in and take care of matters anyway. She said not to bother and to call back tomorrow around 2:00 p.m. As I was sitting down to write this letter they called me. The doctor confirmed that Jolie’s pelvic bone was broken in 3 places. The worst was on her right side. The only way my very active puppy would properly gain usage of her right leg would be through orthopedic surgery. They told me at this point my bill was close to $3.000.00. I felt a pain in my side and took in a sharp breath, actually I felt like I couldn’t breathe at all.

She put me on once again with the administrator so that they could apply for the Care Credit even though I told them emphatically that it wouldn’t be approved. They told me they would call me back. Sure enough, 15 minutes later they confirmed that it wasn’t approved. Then came the one thing I hate the most, “Well don’t you have a friend or family member who can cosign for you?” “No.” “Are you sure?” “Yes I’m sure!” “Really!.....Hmmmm?!” Now I hear the all too familiar sigh, she’s lying, she just doesn’t want to pay the bill ... etc. And so on! I hate the assumption that EVERYONE has a friend or family member ready to jump to their financial aid when the time comes, well listen up, NOT A LOT of people have this luxury, so STOP ASSUMING! Don’t you think we feel bad enough as a grown adult we can’t take care of this ourselves! The conversation continued ... “Well then we have no choice but to send Jolie home. We will give you the final bill tonight, please pick her up around 7:30 p.m. Goodbye.”

Great, now what do I do? She said Jolie would have to be crated for 16 weeks if I couldn’t afford the surgery and then there was no guarantee she would gain proper use of her leg. I don’t have a crate nor can I afford one. Besides she should be able to run and jump again, she is only a puppy!

I have read numerous articles how people have been prosecuted and sent to jail, lost their licenses to practice in the field of veterinary health or grooming and fined for animal abuse or death of an animal. We have these laws to protect our animals yet when it comes to their health care we have no option but to pay up or watch our animal suffer or worse, possibly die. My heart is broken, for I am sure Jolie and my family are not the only ones do go through this. We need to form some sort of health care law for animals like we do for humans to protect every creature here on earth. After all were we not all created equal under God?

A neighbor and fellow dog park companion suggested I write this letter to The Wave in hopes that fellow animal lovers would see our plight and may want to help. If you felt compelled to donate to Jolie’s cause, we would all be extremely grateful as her bill now is over $3.000.00 and her future surgeries and physical therapy are undetermined at this time. Thank you for your help from our family to yours. May God bless you and keep you, your family and pets safe.

By the way, the driver never stopped.

COLLEEN HARRISON

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