I took my 14 year old cat to see the vets at Banfield in July of 2010 because he had been losing weight. As a lay person, I expect a veterinarian to be transparent and forthcoming about all of my options; not with negativity either but what should be done.
I expressed also that I work two part time jobs and could not afford to pay high vet bills. One of the vets suspected that Jerry had hyperthyroidism even though he was in the normal range. On December 6th, I spent $69.90 for a T4 thyroid test and a fecal exam. He was noted as having 6% dehydration which I was not told of but was on the paperwork.
I declined the free T4 because he was still in the normal range. On February 28, I returned with Jerry due to vomiting and diarrhea. He had a T4 exam and a blood test. On February 29, I learned from a customer standing beside me that there was a Wellness Program that I could pay annually for that would cover the costs of almost every test Jerry needed including free office visits.
I enrolled in the Optimal Plan of $383.00. The technician had to leave to ask the vet if I could enroll in this service. This service is not advertised anywhere in the clinic. My bill for February 29 was $527.35 but I only had to pay $134.66 with the plan.
At this point, all the tests the vet had suggested previously were now affordable and they were completed. On March 6, I returned with Jerry and he had another exam and everything was within normal limits. I took Jerry back on March 7 and they put in an IV catheter since he was dehydrated. The vet gave a does of Cerenia so he would not vomit.
I spent $255.74 on this visit because IV fluids and hospitalization were not covered under the plan. On Friday, March 9th, I took Jerry back to Banfield and requested a sonogram because I was very worried. She offered prednisone but made it sound VERY dangerous to his liver plus I was not told of the expense for this type of therapy (I learned after the fact that my brother's cat is on prednisone at a cost of .05 a pill and she is doing very well, even gaining weight. I paid $79.73 today for hospitalization and another cerenia injection.
On Friday I was sent to the Critical Care Clinic for an ultrasound. I took the results to Banfield and was basically told he was not going to make it. The ultrasound showed an intestinal obstruction. The vet at Banfield said she could not give more Cerenia to stop vomiting but could give dog pills which were okay but she didn't recommend it.
To help Jerry live, I was not offered any type of payment plan or option for grants to save my "baby". Since I could not afford several thousand dollars for surgery, I was forced to pay over $300 for euthanasia so he would not suffer. I learned tonight that the American Animal Hospital Association offers grant applications for people who cannot afford to pay vet bills. I earn $22,000 a year as a single head of household and have a daughter in college.
It will already be difficult to pay the almost $1300 I have charged. I am filing this complaint because I do not want other people to lose their pets because they do not have access to options that are available to help with finances. I have cried every day since his passing and it has been almost unbearable. I believe that this would not have happened if I had been offered the Wellness Plan back in July when I took him the first time and the doctors had been transparent about all facets of his treatment as well as options for payment with large surgery bills.
As of the past few days I have learned there were many resources available to me. As a lay person, I depend and trust doctors to provide the best options. Now I have lost a member of my family and I will never take another pet to Banfield.
AVOID THESE PEOPLE AT ALL COSTS!!! FIND A REAL VETERINARIAN!!!
Product or Service Mentioned: Banfield Pet Hospital Pet Medical Service.