This past weekend, the unthinkable happened.
I had to go to the Vet ER.
Back in October, I began fostering a small dog from ACCT, named FIDO. You can find his story here. I recently adopted him and re-named him Finn. So, we have another pup in ThePhillyDog family! While he and Dash aren’t the best of buddies (they mostly ignore each other), he’s getting along pretty well with the cats!
Anyway, Saturday afternoon I was cleaning out my medicine cabinet, getting rid of expired medications. In the process, I must have dropped one on the floor and didn’t notice.
Fast-forward to Sunday evening, I was getting ready to head out to meet a friend for coffee when I noticed that Finn was pawing at his mouth, chewing on something. I went over to him and pulled a pill capsule from his mouth – the entire contents of it gone.
In a total panic, I got on google and started looking for a 24-hour vet. Since I’m no longer living in center city, UPenn wasn’t the closest option. I found a veterinary referral service, who told me I first had to call the ASPCA Poison Control line. Apparently, toxicology is a speciality that most vets aren’t trained to handle. The ASPCA has it’s own team of vets who are trained specifically for poison/toxin cases. For $65, you get a phone consultation and if you do end up going to the vet they will work with your vet during treatment.
Since the pill Finn had ingested was indeed toxic, they instructed me to give him 2 tsp of hydrogen peroxide to induce vomiting. I did. And waited. And waited. He didn’t throw up.
I was just too hysterical to risk waiting any longer, and I hopped into my car and called HOPE Veterinary Specialists in Malvern, PA. In what felt like the longest car ride ever, we arrived to a virtually empty waiting room. They immediately took Finn in to check his vitals and begin treatment.
I’ve never felt so scared before. Scared that he would be permanently harmed, scared that he would die, and scared that he would be able to be treated but that I wouldn’t be able to afford the cost of care and I’d have to euthanize him.
The nurses and staff were amazing. Incredibly compassionate, I didn’t feel judged or blamed for not being more careful about the pills. They were very diplomatic, clear about the costs and the care he would receive. They even let me visit him to say good-bye for the night and told me I could call later in the evening to see how he was doing. If there was an emergency they would call me or could text me, whichever I preferred.
While I did have to put a cap on how much I could spend, Finn did end up being hospitalized for the night. While they recommended that he stay for 48 hours (it was an extended-release tab), I simply couldn’t afford it. So, they kept him under observation for 24 hours. They were able to get him to vomit. Aside from some blood pressure changes, he seemed okay. I called late that night, and they reported that he was resting in his cage.
The next morning, I really wanted to call but their policy is that you can’t call before noon (unless your pet is in ICU, I believe). I can understand – I mean, they are treating animals and don’t have all day to field phone calls. I was hoping I would have received a call from them after noon, but since I couldn’t wait any longer I ended up calling myself for an update. Finn was doing okay – he was able to eat his breakfast and his vitals were normal. I could take him home after the 24 hours were up.
SO – what was the total cost? For Finn it was $493.00. The initial estimate was anywhere from $1000 – $2000 (if he had spent 2 nights). Yes, it was expensive, but I think most people know that going in to a veterinary ER it’s going to be pricey. While Hope VS does not offer a payment plan option, they do give information on care credit (which I did ultimately apply for just in case). I wish that they did offer payment plans, because I would have been willing to pay the $2,000 if they were willing to spread the cost out over time.
All in all, I was extremely satisfied with the care Finn received and I will definitely go back. The office is moving down the road in the new year, but you can find all of their contact information on their website at www.HopeVS.com.
*photo via HopeVS.com