Pets speak to us all the time in their own way. They communicate quite effectively when they want to tell us they are hungry, need to use the bathroom, or just want to say, "I love you." But they can't tell us what is wrong when they aren't feeling well. Pet owners notice illness in changes to routines, uneaten food bowls, and the age-old poop-monitoring technique. But, pet emergencies come in many forms.
At the beginning of an emergency, we often don't know what we are getting ourselves involved in. The owner can see something significant is wrong, but cannot afford the veterinary visit bill, and cannot be seen without money down. We need to get the pet stabilized and then do diagnostic testing to help figure out a diagnosis.
Sometimes pet owners know that their pet needs major surgery or took them to the vet to discover they need more expensive diagnostic testing. In those cases, we have a better idea of what may be coming next. But with any animal, it's always a rush to get them help before it's too late.
Some of the most common emergencies we see are:
Trauma commonly caused by a car accident or animal attack.
For example, Murray, the cat, suffered numerous injuries after being the victim of a hit and run.
Urinary stones or crystals are causing obstructions.
For example, Friday, the cat spent several days in the hospital with a urinary blockage. When he proved unable to pass the stones with a catheter, he needed perineal urethrostomy (PU) surgery.
Bowel obstructions from ingesting a foreign object.
For example, Wheezy, the dog, needed major surgery to remove part of a tennis ball he had swallowed.
Complications from chronic illness, such as heart conditions, thyroid disease, autoimmune disease or cancer.
For example, Mishu Grace suffered from dilated cardiomyopathy and needed intensive treatment to keep her alive.
Birth Defects that are not diagnosed until the animal suddenly collapses or becomes violently ill.
For example, Timothy (Tiny Tim), suffered life-threatening complications from a pocket in his urethra.
Major Surgery hat is needed to save a life or greatly increase quality of life.
For example, Dakota needed specializing surgery to save his eyesight.
Mass Removal that can help cure major illnesses or increase agility.
For example, Armin, the dog needed a mass removed from his leg.
Serious Infections that can lead to severe symptoms and death.
For example, Finnian, the cat almost died from a rare fungal infection.
We have the hard task of meeting pet parents at varying stages of anxiety along the journey to get an animal well. Sometimes they have already spent hundreds or thousands of dollars trying to diagnose or treat a problem before they come to us. In other situations, they are at square one with no place to turn. In every case, the pet needs help quickly. Funding that needed treatment is how your donations save lives.
Cats and dogs need to go to the doctor, just like humans do. One significant difference is that a veterinarian doesn’t have any legal responsibility to treat a pet. If an animal had suffered a significant injury and is rushed to a veterinary hospital, a deposit or proof of credit is usually required before the pet can get help.
Tito, the chihuahua, was viciously attacked by another dog on a walk. Tito was bleeding to death, and the office wouldn’t even take the dog back to be stabilized without a deposit. Can you imagine the anxiety and fear that Tito and his owner felt? Tito’s owner filled out an application from the waiting room, and thanks to donors like you, Tito survived. That heartbreaking situation is the reality for many low-income pet owners.
Tito’s ordeal is just one of the many reasons why pets may need veterinary care. A lot of situations are far less dramatic. We’ll go over different types of veterinary care below.
Routine Veterinary Care
Routine veterinary care covers things like annual check-ups, vaccines, parasite tests, dental checks, flea/tick prevention, heartworm prevention, and spay/neuter services. These services can be planned ahead of time. It is also common to see free or low-cost clinics for vaccines and spay/neuter services. If your pet isn’t acting themselves, is losing weight, or seems sluggish, it’s always a good idea to take them to the vet for a check-up. The cost of a visit to evaluate these symptoms can be vastly different depending on where you live and which veterinary office you choose.
Diagnostic Veterinary Care
Finding out the cause of a medical condition can require various diagnostic tests. Costs for these tests vary across the country. In some cases, the cost is higher because the office may need to pay a specializing technician to perform the test. Below are some estimated costs of diagnostic tests:
• X-rays: $200-$250¹
• MRIs: Upwards of $2,500 per scan²
• Ultrasounds: anywhere between $50 and $500²
• Endoscopy: $800-$2,000²
• ECG (Electrocardiogram): $25 to $100²
• Various types of Blood Work can cost anywhere from $45 to $300 depending on type.
There are various types of surgery that pets may need. The majority of operations we see are mass removal, Perineal Urethrostomy (PU) surgery, and ACL surgery.
• Mass Removal surgeries are all very different, depending on the location and testing needed on the mass. Armin’s recent Mass Removal cost $3,825.
• Perineal Urethrostomy (PU) surgery is common in male cats. It’s the last resort after changes in diet haven’t been effective, and typically only occurs after the third occurrence of a blockage. The cost for this surgery has a huge range, and often includes varying days of hospitalization. For example, two of our cases with the same outcome had extremely different costs. Kitty was able to have effective surgery for $1,500, while Friday required much more time in the hospital and ended up with a final bill of over $5,000.
• ACL Surgery is prevalent in dogs. This surgery ranges from $3,500 to $5,000. Hunter Cole, the service dog’s ACL surgery, cost $3,700.
Many variables can affect total surgery costs.
• Pets with existing medical conditions may require additional professional monitoring and care during surgery.
• There are separate costs to bring in an anesthesiologist.
• Pets may have varying needs for fluids and mediations.
• How quickly an animal recovers to the point of being able to go home.
Emergency Room Visit/Observation
A hospital stay includes various costs. The initial emergency visit might cost $150 to $500.¹ If the patient needs fluids, that can cost from $30 to $100. Subcutaneous fluids can cost even more. Just like with people, a pet’s stay in a hospital will have itemized expenses for every treatment, check-up, meal, and medication. Depending on what the pet needs, it can add up quickly.
Medication Medication for pets is just as expensive as human prescriptions. In many cases, pets are prescribed the same medications that a person might take, but they have to be compounded to meet the specifications of the animal. The cost of prescriptions is something veterinarians have no control over and can be incredibly expensive. Cancer treatment, thyroid conditions, heart problems, and diabetes are particularly costly to medicate.
The Struggle of Veterinarians
Working with veterinarians across the country, we’ve had the pleasure of dealing with hundreds of amazing veterinary professionals. The story of Tito’s father panicking in a waiting room might make you think that vets are in it for the money. But, we’ve also dealt with vet offices where they are literally in danger of closing down because they’ve refused to turn away an animal in need.
The fact is that it costs money to run a veterinary office or hospital. Keeping up with changes in technology and offering state-of-the-art testing and treatment is expensive. There are also necessary costs associated with keeping the doors open and lights on, paying employees, and ordering supplies. Veterinarians may be able to donate their time, but absolutely everything else costs money.
We have certainly met a few veterinary administrators who we’ve decided not to work with in the future, but the majority of these professionals are full of heart. They discount services, present all of the options thoroughly so that the owner and FTLOA can make the best choices for the pet, and they save lives while making personal and financial sacrifices.
For the most part, veterinarians go into business because they love animals. It is a more difficult job than many of us may realize. In addition to financial stress, taking care of sick and injured animals is emotionally taxing. One thing is for sure: Veterinary medicine takes heart.
What Can You Do?
We encourage anyone who can afford it to start a pet savings account or research pet insurance. Thankfully many people can face a pet emergency with a credit card or care credit. For The Love Of Alex funds emergency vet care for people who have no other option. Your donations save the lives of pets from low-income families. So, no one needs to say goodbye to their best friend.
1.) Ethos Vet: https://www.ethosvet.com/blog-post/why-is-veterinary-care-expensive/
2.) DocShop: https://www.docshop.com/education/veterinary/cost
The bond between a pet and their owner is one of the strongest relationships in any person’s life. Pets rely on their owners to keep them safe, fed, and loved. Depending on the pet, they may show their loyalty in different ways, but owners know that there is significant trust and love in that relationship. Pets listen to our problems, encourage their people to get more exercise, and provide unmatched companionship.
Pets Are Companions
Many of the pet owners we meet are disabled or retired, and their pet is the only daily companion they have. For example, Goose the cat's owner deals with MS every day and his support helps her fight off loneliness and depression. Some of the families we help include special needs children. Beauregard the dog helped his autistic human brother communicate and make connections. Pets literally save lives as service animals or by alerting families of fires. The gifts our pets give us are endless.
Pets Are Family
It’s not uncommon for people to refer to pets as their “best friend,” “fur baby,” “child,” “sister,” “brother,” or a “member of the family.” These phrases are not just for fun. They are a true indication of how owners feel about their pets.
Pets Are Part Of Your Daily Routine
Think about your schedule? Time to feed your pets, take them for walks, clean litter boxes, and play are all part of your day. That room you make in your day and your heart is appreciated and recognized as much by your pet as yourself. When pet owners make plans, it always includes consideration of their pets. More than one person has left a vacation early because they couldn’t bear to be away from their pets.
Coping With Pet Illness And Loss
When a pet gets sick or suffers an injury it affects the whole family. A responsible pet owner budgets for pet food and essentials, but anyone living paycheck-to-paycheck can be undone by an emergency veterinary bill. Costs range anywhere from a few hundred dollars to thousands. Veterinary offices will give the owner an option to put the pet to sleep or surrender the animal. These owners cherish their pet as their family. They wouldn’t tell a doctor to put down a human family member because the medical bills are too expensive. Owners in this situation grapple with feelings of fear, despair and guilt over not having the funds available. When a pet dies, no matter what the situation, it’s heartbreaking. We all know a person who would say, “It’s just an animal.” But, anyone who has truly loved a pet knows that this loss is as hard as losing a close friend or family member. People who are grieving the loss of a pet deserve to be taken seriously.
Pets Make People Better
Pets bring a unique sense of purpose and friendship to their owners. The common saying, “Who rescued who?” is a direct result of the way pets change human lives for the better. Even in the prison system, we see the benefits of dog ownership and how pets can help rehabilitate inmates. Having a family pet helps teach children responsibility and compassion. And I don’t know a person who isn’t happier to talk about their pet than just about any other subject. The smile on someone’s face when you say, “Oh! You have a dog/cat! Tell me about them.” is a representation of pure happiness.
Pets show us how to love unconditionally and give from our hearts. In that way they make the world a better place with every bark, meow, and attention-seeking bat of the paw. Give your pets an extra hug or belly rub from us tonight.
When you think about “loving homes” for pets, they are not always wealthy or even middle-class homes. Sometimes people from low-income situations give a priceless amount of love and care to their pets. These people budget for the usual pet care for their best friends and fall into trouble when a major emergency strikes.
In many cases, these loving pet-owners are retired or disabled, living on a fixed income. Other situations involve families caring for a special needs child or merely surviving as with a single-parent. These people need help that they can’t get anywhere else, to save their beloved pet. That’s when they come to For The Love Of Alex (FTLOA) and donors like you, for help.
FTLOA uses the United States standards for low-income status as a general guideline when accepting low-income pet-owner applications. We also consider special circumstances, such as a recent job loss or family emergency. The people helped by FTLOA apply for Care Credit and often are not approved or are only approved for part of the cost. FTLOA requires pet-owners to provide proof of income in the form of tax documents and/or bank statements. This way we can ensure that your donations go to people who are truly in need. Applying for help from FTLOA is the last chance for these pet-owners.
Veterinary care can be expensive for everyone, but FTLOA does not cover routine veterinary bills. This organization exists as a final effort for families before they face surrendering or euthanizing a pet for no other reason than they cannot afford emergency treatment.
Many people are lucky enough not to know this term, but there is a word for putting a pet down because the care to save them is too expensive. It’s called “Economic euthanasia.” The other option, of surrendering a pet to a hospital or rescue is not always a better option for the pet either. Sick animals are far less likely to get adopted, and if they do, they have to adjust to a new home on top of recovering from illness.
Your donations make it possible for pets to stay in loving homes and get the care they need. That is how you save lives!
The first time you hear it, the term “financial euthanasia” sounds a little strange. With one eyebrow raised in confusion, you may be asking, “Is there a sale on cremation services?” But the actual definition is far more sinister. Economic euthanasia is the official term used when an animal is put to sleep for the main reason that the pet owner cannot afford to pay for veterinary treatment.
Economic Euthanasia is Not Interchangeable With Humane Euthanasia
Economic euthanasia does not refer to pet owners making hard decisions about the quality-of-life of their pets. In cases of serious diagnosis with a poor prognosis, elderly pets, or pets with other health complications, owners have to put their own feelings aside and think about what is truly best for the cat or dog. If they decide in their hearts that humane euthanasia is the best for their pet, we support them in their decision. That is a completely different situation than being forced into “putting an animal out of its misery” because the life-saving treatment is too expensive.
Reasons for Economic Euthanasia
There are many types of veterinary treatment that may be too expensive for an owner to afford. Some examples of how Economic Euthanasia was prevented include:
• Finnian the cat’s owner spent hundreds of dollars on vet visits and inconclusive tests before finally getting to a specialist. Without the ability to pay for his ongoing care, Finnain would have succumbed to a rare fungal disease. Reyna the dog needed expensive surgery on her leg after escaping from her home and being hit by a car. Without the thousands of dollars needed for surgery, Reyna would have been humanely euthanized.
• Miracle was a stray cat who suffered a major injury and sought refuge on a stranger’s porch. Many people would have simply “put him out of his misery” instead of nursing him back to full health.
• Apache Princess was diagnosed with a very treatable cancer, but the cost of treatment was extreme. Without donations, Apache Princess wouldn't be celebrating good health today.
Because of your donations, FTLOA was able to create happy endings to these stories.
Why Is Veterinary Care So Expensive?
There is not an easy answer to the question, “Why is veterinary care so expensive?” In some cases, veterinarians can’t help the cost of supplies and equipment that make diagnostic tests and surgeries possible. There is also the cost of medication. For example, cancer treatment in dogs and cats often utilizes the same medicines humans use. We know how expensive our prescriptions are, and there is no discount for pets.
Beyond those clear expenses, there is also a scale of how much veterinary care costs. You may have noticed that just in your general area, you’ll get three different quotes from three different veterinary hospitals. Sometimes prices are inflated for no obvious reason, but sometimes it is a reflection of better care, expertise, or specializing veterinarians. Depending on the severity of the illness or injury, there may not be time to shop around. Frantic pet owners go to a doctor they can trust, and fast. Or they may live in a rural area where there is only one choice. In some cases, owners even have to drive over an hour to get to the closest hospital that will treat a specific condition.
There are so many variables to the cost of treatment across the country. For more information on this topic, please read our in-depth article on Veterinarian costs.
Hey, you. Yes, you. The person reading this. You save lives. Every person who donates toward a pet-in-need is directly helping to save a life. Without donations from real, normal people, no pets can be saved.
How do you save lives?
For The Love Of Alex Inc. (FTLOA) is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that operates on donations. We do not benefit from large corporate sponsors or government funding. This mission to save lives is funded entirely by donors like you. Our average donation is $25, and a single case often takes hundreds of donors working together to reach our goal.
Our organization operates as a conduit between people who can help and people who need help. Our job is to identify pet families who qualify for assistance and share their stories with people who care. We collect donations and pay the veterinarian directly after negotiating for discounts. In this way we are similar to a GoFundMe with two significant differences:
1. You know exactly where the money is going.
2. We deliver our fundraisers to a community of donors who believe in the cause.
We call our donors Angels because they offer love and help to those who need it. Our founder, Elizabeth, who sadly passed away in 2018, is our true Guardian Angel, and the first person to refer to our donors as “Angels.” Today hundreds of Alex’s Angels create a network of kind hearts to get pets the help they need. But, even the most loving Angel doesn’t have a bottomless bank account. That is why we need our network to grow. Indeed, you can never have too many Angels on your side.
It’s also true that no Angel’s gift is too big or too small. While our average donation is $25, we have many people who give $5 a month or a large annual gift of over $1,000. Absolutely every cent counts in the fight to save lives. Many of our donors are people with low-incomes that we’ve helped in the past. They scrape together whatever they can to help the next pet in need.
Every Angel is different. Choose the best way for yourself to donate here. Thanks for caring about saving lives.
Caring is the absolute first step to saving a life. Thank you for caring enough to be on our website, learning about how you can save a life. Now I’m going to do something I hate doing, but it is essential to pay for emergency veterinary care. I’m going to ask you for money. It is only through donations from generous people like you that any animals can be saved.
Your Donation Saves Lives
Please note that we only pay veterinarians directly. Your funds will never go directly to a pet owner. We work with reputable veterinary offices and negotiate discounts in service whenever possible.
You can give in whatever way is most comfortable for you.
Online on our website
One of the easiest ways to donate is through our online portal. It includes credit cards, debit cards, PayPal and ACH* processing (money transfers from bank). There is a small processing fee that we must pay for transactions, but you can opt to add funds to cover those fees. It is easy to use, and a significant benefit is that we can take the funds almost instantly to pay for veterinary bills. We encourage donors to sign-up to make a monthly recurring gift. These automatic donations create a safety net for emergency cases and operating funds. You can also choose which pet(s) you would like to support in the comments field of the donation transaction.
*(ACH is ideal for larger gifts because of the lower and capped transaction fees)
Mailing a check or money order is a welcome method of donation that ensures that there are no extra fees involved in the transaction.
For the Love of Alex Inc.
P.O. Box 4457
Bethlehem, PA 18018
Donor Advised Funds
We also offer a Donor Advised Funds option for people who regularly use this service.
No matter how you give, always be sure to ask your employer if they will match your gift.
Please keep FTLOA in mind when you are writing your will. Estate Planning gifts are an excellent way to ensure your legacy of saving lives.
No matter how you choose to donate or how much you can afford to give, please know that it appreciated. The people who ask for help are often embarrassed and ashamed to ask, but also able to put their pride aside for the sake of their pet. Your donations mean the world to them.
Thank you for saving lives.
Having a voice is vital as a nonprofit organization. It doesn’t matter how urgent your message is if no one hears it or cares enough to take action. Creating this Public Service Announcement (PSA) is our way of yelling from the rooftops that you can change the world, one animal life at a time.
Why We Need A Public Service Announcement
For The Love Of Alex Inc. (FTLOA) was launched in 2013 by a single person who wanted to save animals, but she knew she couldn’t do it alone. Our founder, Elizabeth, made deep connections with other animal lovers and was able to help hundreds of cats and dogs. But the world has changed a lot since 2013, and the same strategies that used to fund pet emergencies then, aren’t as effective today.
One of the main drivers of donations at the start of the organization was social media, especially Facebook. In 2013, a business could post something to Facebook, and followers would see it. Over the years, the algorithm that Facebook uses has changed dramatically. Today, only 1% of our 251K followers see our posts on average. The same people see pleas for donations over and over, and no fresh faces are learning about FTLOA. The animals we are trying to help aren’t getting seen by enough people to raise adequate funds.
Another major strategy has always been to email animal lovers directly. Our email list was not purchased but developed over years of work and service. But email has its own struggles, and we find it harder to get past spam and sales folders and into primary inboxes. We’ve also noticed that a lot of people don’t check their email regularly.
As the times change, so must we. To reach a national audience and attract new people who want to change the world, we decided to put together a PSA. This video could be used across the internet and on television during free or discounted air time. We need the donors, but couldn’t use existing donor money to create the PSA. Thankfully, we have a Guardian Angel.
Who Paid For The PSA? Our founder, Elizabeth, sadly passed away in 2018. To continue her life’s mission, she left one final gift to FTLOA. Elizabeth made arrangements to leave an endowment to FTLOA. This money was set aside as a safety net with specific instructions that it is only to be used for major projects to further the ongoing mission of the organization. It is only because of this endowment that we were able to fund the creation of this PSA. Thank you, Elizabeth.
Who Made The PSA?
With the idea in mind and the money to back it up, we reached out to Make Films to create a professional quality video. The team at Make Films listened to our story of what FTLOA does and why help is so desperately needed. They took that long and detailed story and developed a concept that summed it up in 2 minutes. Using a dog as our narrator, Make Films told the emotional story of a pet who needed life-saving care that his owners could not afford. It’s only with donors like you and FTLOA that he makes it home to his family again.
The team at Make Films introduced us to Beasley, a canine actor, who stole our hearts. While many of the photos and footage in the PSA include animals FTLOA has had the pleasure of saving, we needed a real actor for the lead in our PSA. Beasley is such a good actor that he has a movie, Agent Toby Barks, coming out this spring. It was an honor to work with this talented dog and served as another reminder to us that pets are so much more than “just animals.”
You Can Help Make This Project A Success
We feel blessed to have had the ability to create this PSA to further our mission. To some people, it may not seem like a big deal, but to us, this short video is a container for all of our hopes that we will be able to continue to help animals and save lives. Please share it with friends and family. We believe, as Elizabeth did, that we can change the world if we work together.
You take part in saving the lives of cats and dogs, and you deserve a reward. Scott Hanna, a renowned comic book artist who works with Marvel and DC is a local hero of ours. He found out about the life-saving work you make possible and offered to immortalize your mission into a comic book. Fill out this quick form to sign up to receive your limited run, four-page collectible comic.