Jun 09, 2021

The Australian charity covering the cost of veterinary bills for pensioners

Almost anyone with a pet will tell you that it doesn’t take very long for an animal to become a fully-fledged member of the family.

Relationships between everyday people and their pets can obviously mean a lot, but there is no overstating just how special that bond can be to an older person. 

Elderly people are more prone to social isolation than any other age demographic in Australia, which is highlighted by the little known fact that men over the age of 85 actually have the highest rate of suicide in the country.

One of the reasons for these kinds of problems is that people can lose their sense of purpose as they reach old age, and this is what makes the companionship and responsibility of pet ownership such a positive force in the life of an elderly person.

Unfortunately, a visit to the local vet is not cheap, and ensuring the health of your beloved pet can come with the type of price tag that a lot of pensioners and disadvantaged people simply can’t afford. 

But one amazing charity is doing everything they can to ensure that the special bond between elderly people and their pets does not come to an end due to a simple lack of finance.

The Pet Medical Crisis charity was founded 10 years ago by a woman named Jennifer Hunt, after her beloved dog sustained a back injury that would require over $10,000 to treat. Although Jennifer managed to pay the bill, she knew that there were many people out there in the same position that would not be able to cover the cost of keeping their pets healthy – so she decided to do something about it. 

Vegas Fitzmaurice is the Director of Partnerships Marketing at Pet Medical Crisis, and he was nice enough to share the story of this amazing charity with HelloCare. 

“We started in 2009 because of a woman named Jennifer Hunt, who got the idea for our charity after her dog had a severe spinal injury that was going to cost over $10,000 to fix. Fortunately, she had the money to pay for the operation, but she realised that having the ability to cover these costs for a pet was actually pretty rare. And most of the time the animal ends up getting put down,” said Fitzmaurice.

“Jennifer didn’t think that was fair – so she decided to consult with some vets and spent the money out of her own pocket to start a charity to help people to cover the cost of their pets’ medical expenses. She started off, initially, focusing on helping elderly pensioners, but we have gradually been able to offer assistance to anybody with any kind of pension – be that healthcare or disability.”

Fitzmaurice added, “A lot of the time, the high veterinary bills are not actually due to the vet’s themselves, and the high costs are often due to the prices of the medications and products that are being used. But the prices can be ridiculous, especially for an older person.”

While most people think of cats and dogs as the typical household pet, Pet Medical Crisis has helped provide care to a variety of different animals that all hold a special place in the hearts and minds of their owners.

“We have seen everything, from the usual pets like cats and dogs through to horses, budgies, cockatiels and even chickens. We are called a necessitous charity, and having a pet can be vital to a person’s mental health, which in our mind makes them extremely necessary. Especially for the elderly,” said Fitzmaurice.

“If you can imagine being an older person who has a dog that means the absolute world to them, and then not having the $300 it might cost to go to a vet, that can literally mean the end of the dog, and the end of their time together.

Much like many of the crisis situations we may face in our lives, needing medical attention for a pet often comes with little warning and requires immediate attention. 

Pet Medical Crisis has made the process of accessing payment support for pets as quick and as easy as possible through the use of their website, and the hundreds of pet owners across the state of Victoria who have had their pets treated as a result of this are extremely appreciative. 

“Most of the owners send their pictures in [after their pet has received care], which is really great, and we share them on our social media. Some of them even call us their ‘angels’ because of how much it has meant to them,” said Fitzmaurice.

“People can go to our website and use the ‘Help Now’ feature to get the process started. Obviously, there is a criteria that the person needs to meet – like having a pension card. The process is very quick, because quite often the pets need immediate help, and it gets filtered through to us and then referred to their local vet clinic. We also have certain vets that give us 50% discounts.”

Pet Medical Crisis has donated close to $500,000 to the pet care costs of elderly and disadvantaged Australians, which has resulted in medical treatment to over 500 very appreciative animals.

Being a charity, Pet Medical Crisis relies heavily on donations from the public in order to be able to continue covering the costs of the veterinary of bills, so we urge anyone with even the smallest amount of spare budget to click here and make a donation.

And for those who are not living in the state of Victoria who feel that Pet Medical Crisis is a charity that they would love to see operating in their state, Fitzmaurice has one last piece of information that you may enjoy.

“We are only in Victoria at the moment, but we have already started branching out, and by the end of next year we hope to have the whole country covered.”

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  1. Please branch out soon to NSW. I have a 12 year old dachshund and an almost 8 year old cat and need something like this in NSW. I am 64 & on a disability pension and don’t have transport. We need this kind of Pet/Vet help in every State.

  2. Please come to Brisbane, My little Angel a covoodle will be 12 in May and I am 58yrs old and on a disability pension. I don’t like to see my baby in any pain it breaks my heart. I have managed so far with vet pay but Vet pay cannot lend anymore as I’m at my limit with being on a pension. Sometimes I’m in tears with not being able to have tests done for her with her cough becoming increasingly worse over the yrs. I manage to keep up the needles for her arthritis and her special food for her bowel inflammatory . Ii worry about her cough getting worse and her breathing , I need Angels for my Angel,, if she is starts to struggle to much I will need to say goodbye ! I’m crying as I type…. I just need peace of mind , she may still have a few good yrs left, but if it’s bad news I need to make her comfortable . It has just been Angel and I for many yrs, she gives me so much love and comfort as i do her. I feel for everyone that is in a similar situation. It is a wonderful charity and hope and pray you extend out to Qld.

  3. A wonderful article I’m so please I have been with out a dog for many years since my last dog died of old age I thought I couldn’t afford another one but after reading this article I can I’m luckily enough to live in Victoria kind regards Deborah

  4. I’m on disability. Is there any Vet in Adelaide
    as she is at end of life
    I always had Insurance until 3 years ago

  5. I hope a scheme can start here in Perth
    Costs to do blood tests is almost $200 my nice just spent $200 on vet visit and mediation to help mum out of 90 years old .

  6. I am on a disability pension , l had two min pins bitten buy a snake at the same time I am still paying the vet bill $6000 l am in NSW

  7. Please is there something like this in South Australia,I am eighty on a pension and have a 2yr old Rottweiler who has started limping and Vets can’t find out what is wrong I am about to go though a specialist,it would be fantastic to get some help.cheers .

  8. i wish you were in perth my dog is 10 yrs and she has pyometra and needs immediate surgery its cost is 3580.oo we not well off but comfortable we cannot afford her this and we have no choice but ti put her down because perth sucks balls for compassion …

  9. Where are you located ???……I am in Tullimbar NRL Shellharbour NSW…A returned VN Vet with a little dog that I just love to bits…… I would be grateful if you could point me in the right direction here.
    Thanking you
    Greg Semple

  10. Hi are you in Adelaide yet please. We are pensioners and adore our two little dogs but they are going to need dental soon and it’s very very expensive. They don’t get any junk food and they have a combo of chicken meat and dry dog food to clean their teeth. Nether are overweight.

  11. Please come to the Sunshine Coast my dog got run over I’m in the pension and I can’t afford any of it I put a $100 deposit down that’s all I can afford this close to Easter with 2 kids I’m sure I’m not the only on in this position but it would help a lot of people out like me here on the Sunshine Coast please please please

  12. What a wonderful charity. My heart rate slowed down after reading about you we may get help for our Ruby Xx

  13. I am a carer and my client has a maltese who has been sick since he was a pup he can only eat crocodile and lives on so much medication. It costs around $300 a month for this lady, she has pet insurance but it doesn’t cover all the medication. Her dog will have this for life. She asked her vet what do other pensioners do when they can’t offord the cost they advised they just have to put the dog down. That was something she would never do. Is there any help out there for her? She lives in leapold victoria.

  14. What a wonderful organisation. I hope you can branch out to South Australia and as many states as possible soon. Keep up the much needed and appreciated good work.

  15. Thank you so much for the help you are giving all these people.
    You truly are Angels.
    I have a little Maltese that has a bad knee problem
    To old to be operated on and arthritis
    has taken most of his knee socket
    He will live the rest of his live on Medication
    But he thinks he is still a puppy

    I wish you all the best for what you are doing for pensioners
    May all the best come to you and all of your employers

  16. I would love to have had this for my dog ,she died 14 months ago from cancer and I miss her every day and I feel guilty that I didn’t have the money to maybe prolong her life longer
    This is a great idea and I hope it comes to NSW soon.

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