Be your own pet insurance
Owning an animal is a luxury and many factors need to be taken into consideration before taking a pet into your home.
Not least of these is cost.
Every animal you care for will cost you money, even the tiny feral kitten that you started to feed at your back door.
You will provide food for her and maybe a nice cosy bed initially, but soon you notice she has patches of fur missing and you need a vet visit to find out what’s wrong. During that vet visit, the vet will likely discuss deworming her, as many intestinal parasites can be passed to humans from animals, and flea control, which is the most likely cause of her skin issue and fur loss.
She may also need spaying to avoid her breeding six needy kittens; at some point in her midlife years she will need some dental work as she has a bad tooth and can’t eat. Before you know it, the little cat you started to feed has cost you several thousand dollars over her lifetime.
I get asked all the time about the cost of veterinary care and animal care in general, and why there isn’t health insurance for animals in Bermuda.
During my 15 years working as a vet I have spoken with at least three companies about the possibilities of offering pet insurance to our animal-owning population. I provided all the data I had to them in the hope that they would come up with an owner-friendly system, as seen in the US and UK. Unfortunately, the same answer comes back every time: we are just too small a population to support a similar programme.
So I got to thinking about this problem, and started to ask my clients if they would use pet insurance if it was an option. Almost everyone said they would.
Here is my Bermuda-friendly solution: For dog owners, take $50 a month or more if you can afford it, and put it into a bank account for your pet.
When you start feeding the little stray cat, put aside $30 a month to offset the unavoidable bills that she will generate. We have to forward-plan for our pets’ care to help navigate the bumps in the road that will surely come from time to time. Even people who feed feral chickens could eventually need to provide them with veterinary care and it’s a heartbreaking decision to have to put cost above care for the lack of forward planning.
So when you’re adopting that shelter dog, or considering fluffy bunnies for the kids, remember to be sure you plan for all the lifelong care they may need – both routine and emergency. Set aside a little bit every month to help you when you need it. When the emergency comes, you’ll be glad you did.
Lucy Richardson graduated from Edinburgh University in 2005. She started CedarTree Vets in August 2012 with her husband Mark. They live at the practice with their two children, Ray and Stella, and their dog, two cats and two guinea pigs. Dr Lucy is also the FEI national head veterinarian for Bermuda