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    • MSE Martin
    • By MSE Martin 20th Nov 06, 3:00 PM
    • 8,115Posts
    • 42,285Thanks
    MSE Martin
    MONEY MORAL DILEMMA: Pet versus debt?
    • #1
    • 20th Nov 06, 3:00 PM
    MONEY MORAL DILEMMA: Pet versus debt? 20th Nov 06 at 3:00 PM
    This week's Money Moral Dilemma

    A family’s pet dog is ill. They take it to the vet, who proclaims that there’s a chance the dog will get better with a course of treatment costing £900, yet even then the dog may need to be put down at the end. The family already has severe debts and is struggling to stay afloat. Should they borrow more to have the treatment or is it time to say goodbye to the family pet?

    Click reply to enter the money moral maze

    Please remember, be polite to other MoneySavers, even if you disagree with them

    Also read last week's MMD: Give Santa the sack?

    PS. And just to confirm this is an entirely hypothetical situation. Each week in the email I will be asking those questions. And yes, the lack of detail, the phrasing, all of it is deliberate to envoke debate (nice debate too). Enjoy the money moral maze.

    Last edited by Former MSE Dan; 21-11-2006 at 4:00 PM.
    Martin Lewis, Money Saving Expert.
    Please note, answers don't constitute financial advice, it is based on generalised journalistic research. Always ensure any decision is made with regards to your own individual circumstance.

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Page 1
  • wigginsmum
    • #2
    • 20th Nov 06, 3:30 PM
    • #2
    • 20th Nov 06, 3:30 PM
    Speaking as a pet-owner, I put pet medical needs on a par with children's medical needs, and both above money. If the dog would statistically have a decent quality of life thanks to the treatment, I'd opt for it because I view pet ownership as a binding commitment. If they definitely can't afford it, then they could look at getting the dog rehomed - even facing a serious condition, there are sometimes people who take on pets like this. And if they consider having another dog in the future, make sure they get pet insurance!
    The ability of skinny old ladies to carry huge loads is phenomenal. An ant can carry one hundred times its own weight, but there is no known limit to the lifting power of the average tiny eighty-year-old Spanish peasant grandmother.
  • Edinburghlass
    • #3
    • 20th Nov 06, 9:43 PM
    • #3
    • 20th Nov 06, 9:43 PM
    I have in fact done this to the tune of £1,000 for a little stray kitten that we took in, sadly despite the money spent she died.

    I didn't borrow but did cash in an ISA.

    Pets cost money, fact, make sure you think about the consequences before taking on any animal.
    • gwinnie
    • By gwinnie 20th Nov 06, 10:10 PM
    • 9,200 Posts
    • 18,062 Thanks
    • #4
    • 20th Nov 06, 10:10 PM
    • #4
    • 20th Nov 06, 10:10 PM
    First of all, the owners should go for a second opinion, and maybe a third.

    Second, the only option IMO is the one that means the least suffering and the most quality of life for the dog. Even if it means putting them to sleep. Why put a dog through painful procedures, giving it a slightly longer life of pain?

    Third, if there was a good chance for the dog, I would try fundraising for its operation!
    • meerustar
    • By meerustar 21st Nov 06, 8:39 AM
    • 7,977 Posts
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    • #5
    • 21st Nov 06, 8:39 AM
    • #5
    • 21st Nov 06, 8:39 AM
    If you are in receipt of benefits, look in your yellow pages and you will see some vets that don't charge for treatment if you cannot afford it.

    A few years back my mum took her dog to a centre like this in Salford where the dog was treated, kept in for a few days and then let home fit as a fiddle, so that is something to consider if you are on benefits.
  • revenant
    • #6
    • 22nd Nov 06, 12:46 AM
    look at all of the options
    • #6
    • 22nd Nov 06, 12:46 AM
    I can still remember the last few months of my mother's pet dog. She was very ill and kept going back to the vets, we gave no thought to the cost, purely to what was best for the dog. The day the vet finally put her to sleep was very hard as the dog had appeared to be happy in herself and had walked into the vets practice without any help. So when the vet said she was still getting worse it was a surprise.

    I would gladly get into debt for a pet such as a dog or cat, but strangely I have never been sufficiently attached to rodents or fish enough to do much beyond the most basic stuff before deciding the best thing was disposal. I guess it is down to how much mutual 'love and respect' you believe exists, the lifespan of a dog helps here.

    Finally, should I ever be faced with a similar situation again, I would remember a story I found on the internet ( and click on 'scuddy' on the left ) that alternative treatments can help animals as well as people.
    something missing
  • fubar
    • #7
    • 22nd Nov 06, 2:09 AM
    • #7
    • 22nd Nov 06, 2:09 AM
    I have a dog called Rocky (cross German Sheppard/Collie) he's aged about 12 now, I have him insured (via Tesco) and every year I keep seeing his premiums go up and every year I think he is worth every penny, I would hate to be put into the position of thinking about costs over his welfare, would I go into debt for him....yes I would but I would not prolong his situation if there was any chance he would suffer for it.

    to sum it up as some one said in a funny notice I seen.

    "To you, it's an animal. To me, he is an adopted son who is
    short, hairy, walks on all fours and doesn't speak clearly."
    Last edited by fubar; 22-11-2006 at 2:12 AM.
    Be ALERT - The world needs more LERTS
  • Scarlet Fever
    • #8
    • 22nd Nov 06, 6:38 AM
    • #8
    • 22nd Nov 06, 6:38 AM
    i think that if the family have severe debts already, then the dog should be let go - either to a charity or put down.

    this family could end up with more debt, no dog, and end up losing their house, and then what? people commit suicide because of debt - i know i sound harsh, i have pets, but its a gamble. If it was a definate 'no more treatment required' and dog will be fine, then (still only) maybe, but with no guarantee.... i would dream of spending £900 on my cat (sorry chilli, love you loads, but you are getting on a bit....!)

    i'd say no - put the dog down.

    but as the poster said above - some vets and animal charities could help - my mum had a cat that needed some work and could not afford it and she was on benefits and she only had to pay the first £40 (i think) thanks to the Cats Protection League, so i would say phone around and see what help you can get
    Willow: I knew it, I knew it, well not in the sense of having the slightest idea, but I knew there was something I didn't know!
    • catkins
    • By catkins 22nd Nov 06, 7:16 AM
    • 5,558 Posts
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    • #9
    • 22nd Nov 06, 7:16 AM
    • #9
    • 22nd Nov 06, 7:16 AM
    Ito sum it up as some one said in a funny notice I seen.

    "To you, it's an animal. To me, he is an adopted son who is
    short, hairy, walks on all fours and doesn't speak clearly."
    by fubar
    Love this quote - it is exactly how I feel about my dog. I have no children, my dog is my child. A lot of people think I am mad but I honestly do not care.

    As to the dilemma. Well if it was myself and OH if there was a good chance the dog would come through the treatment and live for at least another 6 months and was not suffering then I would somehow get the money, even if it meant selling almost everything we own. If, on the other hand, the outcome was not that good and we thought the dog was suffering we would have him put to sleep as, in our opinion, it would be the kinder option. Quite a while ago we had a dog who had a tumour in his stomach. The vet said if he removed it the dog would probably live for at least another year. We agreed to the op (which we could ill afford) and the poor dog only lived for a few more weeks, seemed to be in pain and was not in control of his bodily functions. Neither I nor OH regret spending the money but we do feel guilty that we put our dog through that and if we could go back in time would not do so again.

    I would definitely get a second opinion and make sure in the future any pets are insured.
    • 105k
    • By 105k 22nd Nov 06, 7:41 AM
    • 14 Posts
    • 6 Thanks
    I owned a dog for 14 years and wouldn't have parted with it for any amount of money...but, the only vets bill I ever paid was to have it put down when it got cancer. The amount of money people pay for health bills for animals these days is obscene and is not for the benefit of the animal IMHO.

    Hard though it may seem to some people, I would have the dog put down and get another one from a shelter. That way the original pet doesn't suffer anymore, the new pet gets a loving home and the owner gets to enjoy the idiosynchrasies of another animal.
    It will take time to get over the loss but at least you are not watching it suffer anymore.
  • barrwalk
    I have had dogs for 40 years. They are ONLY animals and it is pandering to our own personality that makes us even think about spending large sums of money at the vets without a 'guaranteed' outcome.
    My wife spent nearly 400 pounds on a Jack Russell last year and she was put down three days after returning home. We loved her dearly BUT what a waste of money AND more importantly what happened to compassion. She must have been through hell and back before her super life was ended, in all good faith.
    Treat 'em well in life and learn to recognise when it is better to show compassion over sentiment.
    • Idiophreak
    • By Idiophreak 22nd Nov 06, 8:07 AM
    • 11,636 Posts
    • 15,175 Thanks
    I don't really like animals, so am probably going to be a bit unpopular here

    The only thing that crosses my mind is why are they wasting money on a pet in the first place if they're in severe debt? I suppose they might've got it in better times, but still, I think I'd take the illness as a get out of jail free card, have it put to sleep and let my finances recover before getting another.
    • bordercars
    • By bordercars 22nd Nov 06, 8:10 AM
    • 1,290 Posts
    • 594 Thanks
    The animals quality of life must come first, every time, remember a PET IS FOR LIFE, we had a situation about 5 years ago our cat had been run over needed both back legs working on , 1 required phsio for quite some time, he was a just an ordinary cat ,£500 bill, we were short at the time and someone suggested the Cats Protection League, they stumped up £100, Sammy lived with a limp for another 4 years sadly he went last year.

    Which reminds me, i have a little extra right now i must send a cheque to the Cats Protetection League, anyone else feeling a little flush may i ask you to think about doing similar. Thank You
    • Diddidi
    • By Diddidi 22nd Nov 06, 8:18 AM
    • 37 Posts
    • 19 Thanks
    I agree with the other posters - owners have a duty to care for pets - the same as parents do for children. I know people who have sold their possessions to pay for vet fees. The idea of going to an animal charity for assistance is a good one and many vets will reduce their fees if they know that it is not an insurance claim.

    I recently had almost £10,000 worth of work done on my dog - a dog who means the world to me. Unfortunately he had cancer and needed several operations. The insurance covered about a third of this amount and I needed to find the rest. Thanks to Moneysavingexpert, I found the best means of borrowing money. Lady Luck must have been smiling because a few months later I received a large tax refund that repaid the rest of the loan. End result - one happy owner and one happy dog who is doing really well despite what he has been through. Yes, at the time I did wonder what I was putting him through, but I just didn't feel that his time was up yet - and neither did the vet.

    A difficult question that I think only the owner can finally address.

    • gemlcoleman
    • By gemlcoleman 22nd Nov 06, 8:22 AM
    • 244 Posts
    • 134 Thanks
    i would say this shows the importance of pet insurance. its not that expensive, and obviously worth it if someone gets put in this dilemma.

    Beware the terms and conditions though - some will only pay a certain amount for one illness!
  • UKJubilee
    If there was no other choice but to pay the £900 or have the dog put down and in the financial situation descibed it would have to be put down. The level of debt described combined with this addition would be devestating for the family in the long run.

    Luckily the above options are not the only ones, I know from experience when I was a child that the PDSA used to give free vetinary treatment to people on benefits.

    (P.S I am not heartless, I had to fork out over £300 for hospilisation 3 weeks ago to save my cats life after a hypoglycaemic attack, sadly his diabetes is an exclusion on his insurance policy as he has had it too long...paid it happily to keep him with me)
    TTC since 11/09
  • Monteil
    Moral dilemma
    For me there might be worry regarding the bills but no dilemma for, having undertaken to have an animal I have also taken responsability for it's welfare.
    When the issue should be querried is at the time when the pet was acquired, much as one can want a pet it is not fair on the animal to take it on a whim and without weighing the ways in which the food and health bills might put too much of a burden on the budget.
    It truly upset me to see so many pets at the mercy of people who do not regard their welfare as a prime decision making point, leaving them alone for too many hours and discarding them when they become too much. But I am passionate about animals, as you can tell.
  • borderterribles
    "Treat 'em well in life and learn to recognise when it is better to show compassion over sentiment."

    Couldn't agree more.
    • madmuvva
    • By madmuvva 22nd Nov 06, 9:16 AM
    • 30 Posts
    • 12 Thanks
    Pets are not children
    Although of course they are in lots of case the only company someone has and our feelings for our pets run deep - IMO they cannot really be compared to children. Can any of us put hand on heart and say if we had to choose between pet or child - we would struggle with the decision? I would give up my job/house if my child were terminally sick, but not for my dog. I have two dogs/two cats (plus other various) and love them all dearly. Jarvis (cat) shattered his leg at 6 mths (he is now 6) cost £400, we paid because 1. it is our responsibility as his owners 2. it was "just" a broken leg. Lulu (dog) has a lump. We have not taken her to the vets because she is old, happy and I do not want to put her through the discomfort/pain she doesnt understand. The family in this scenario should do the kind thing and euthanase.
    • gallygirl
    • By gallygirl 22nd Nov 06, 9:28 AM
    • 16,768 Posts
    • 110,477 Thanks
    'Severe debts and struggling to stay afloat'..... sorry, as far as I am concerned there is no choice to be made. 'The family' as a unit is more important than any pet - yes, all will be devastated but not as much as if they end up with home repossessed / evicted by council and end up in a hostel - in which case they would lose their pets anyway.
    A positive attitude may not solve all your problems, but it will annoy enough people to make it worth the effort
    Mortgage Balance = £0
    "Do what others won't early in life so you can do what others can't later in life"
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