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.”