The average annual cost of owning a dog is $2,100, according to VPI, a pet insurance company. That means if your dog lives to be 12 years old, you will spend roughly $25,000 on him – the equivalent to a healthy down payment on a house. The aforementioned numbers will skyrocket if your dog requires surgery at any point in her life time. Broken bones, hip dysplasia (especially in Labradors), and internal organ failure can force dog owners to make an expensive decision.

The New York Times chronicled a couple last year who were faced with a $6,000 life-and-death decision to potentially buy their 13-year-old Bichon Frise, Max, two more years of life. The extended family ultimately split the costs among them and got the high-risk surgery done. Unfortunately, most Americans do not have the financial means to pay for such an expensive procedure without getting creative. Here are three options to explore when surgery or expensive long-term care is necessary to save your beloved furry companion.3 Tips to Fund Your Pet's Surgery

Animal Groups and Non-Profit Organizations

Market research firm Mintel found in 2011 that 76 percent of Americans surveyed viewed their pets as part of the family. This phenomenon has spawned several non-profit organizations that provide pet lovers the funds needed to save their four-legged family members when emergencies arise.

Sacramento-based Pet Fund was established in 2003 to address the growing problem of animals being euthanized due to treatable illnesses. The non-profit firms raises funds via donations and distributes them to applicants who demonstrate a need. The Pet Fund application process can take several weeks or even months, thus is only an option if the surgery is non-life threatening.

Angels For Animals can help you arrange payments with your vet in case expenses exceed your immediate means. CorgiAid and Labrador Harbor are breed-specific organizations that help owners of said dogs secure grants for surgery and other medical procedures.

Fundraising

Crowdfunding is the new 21st century phenomenon tech startup that companies and other businesses use to get off the ground. But it is also an effective way to raise funds to pay for pet surgery.

Jessica Crigger, of Garner, N.C., rescued her puppy Delilah from the side of a road. Two years later, she took Delilah to the vet after noticing a limp when the dog walked. She later told WRAL-TV that she did not have the $3,000 necessary to get the ACL surgery necessary to correct the limp, but she created a campaign on crowdfunding platform GoFundMe.com to seek help. Within 24 hours, she had raised nearly $2,000.

Indiegogo and Kickstarter are the two most popular crowdfunding sites on the web. And LoveAnimals.org, Give Forward, and FundRazr.com have animal-specific platforms that attract donors who are compassionate about your cause. Make certain to utilize your social media accounts to maximize your campaign’s potential for success.

Old Fashioned Way

When all else fails, do a financial inventory to see if you can come up with the funds on your own. One way to immediately increase your income is to change your deductions on your W4 form at work. You can even temporarily stop federal and state taxes from being withheld by claiming exempt. Simply pay back the difference owed by the following April 15.

If you have an annuity or receive structured settlement payments, you may consider liquidating future payments through companies like J.G. Wentworth. It also wouldn’t hurt to ask your employer for an advance in pay.

There is no such thing as sparing expense when a family member needs help. That includes the ones with paws and wet noses.

Filed under: Dog Care

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