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What do you do when your pet needs expensive surgery?

DEARJOAN: I was wondering if you know of any organization that could help with a sick dog?
My daughter’s dog of more than 10 years — he’s like my grandson — suddenly couldn’t walk and we soon found out he has a neck problem. An MRI and surgery are well over $10,000, and we don’t have that extra money, unfortunately.
Seeing him down is the hardest thing.
Tony Sanchez, Bay Area
DEAR TONY: I’m so sorry to hear about your granddog. Watching an animal suffer is just heartbreaking, as is knowing that you don’t have the money to help.
My dog, too, suffers from a condition called intervertebral disc disease (IVDD), and while he’s stable now, if it should get worse, he’d also have to have an MRI and surgery, which is estimated to cost $10,000 to $11,000.
My dog has improved with medication and restricted exercise. If he gets too carried away with life, he has a flare up, but he again improves with rest and anti-flammatory drugs. I tell you this because there could be hope for your daughter’s dog to improve without surgery, but you should trust your vet.
I’d suggest contacting rescue groups in your area to see if they can help. Some have emergency funds to assist people with health care.
Another option would be to contact the UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine. They have a teaching vet hospital that sometimes accepts pets, so its students can have hands-on experience. That sounds a little scary, but the students are well-trained and under supervision. Call them at 530-752-1393 to check it out.
If readers have other thoughts, please let me know.


DEAR JOAN: Solano County Friends of Animals is a very small group. We do a lot, but taking in ferals is not doable. Sorry.
However, I would like Kim, who took in the ferals , and others out there who would like to help with the feral problem, to know there is help out there. We will spay or neuter any cat when asked. If you can help with the low cost that is great, but we do what needs to be done.
There are rescue groups in other areas that also are happy to help. Spay/neuter is the answer to cat overpopulation. As Bob Barker always said at the end of his TV program, always remember to spay and neuter your pets.
Ruby Waderich, SCFOA
DEAR RUBY: I doubt we will ever see a time when there are no feral or stray cats wandering around, but the Trap Neuter Return efforts are making a difference. It’s so important to stop the overpopulation of these cats that struggle to survive and that live such a difficult life.
Thank goodness for groups such as yours that do all they can to help cats and to curb the feral cat population.
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DEAR JOAN: My brother was forced to adopt a feral cat from his ex-girlfriend. Lightning wouldn’t go to anyone and would hide under the bed.
He had never had a pet before but because of his loving care, she became a veritable sweetheart. They were together 14 years.
Estelle Miller, Bay Area
DEAR ESTELLE: Thank you so much for sharing your story. This should give many people who are trying to tame feral cats some hope that it is possible with lots of love, care and patience.
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