It comes as no surprise to anyone these days that veterinary care is expensive.  Especially for individuals on a fixed income.  But a woman in Pennsylvania is experiencing the worst of the worst in vet bill sticker shock.  A whopping $10,000 estimate on ear surgery for her 9-year-old beagle.

Ann Stanley’s beagle named Barney has been in treatment for a chronic ear infection since before June last year.  A vet in Marlton, New Jersey was treating Barney with antibiotics and pain medication, but the infection just continued to get worse.  Not satisfied, Ann switched practices.  She transferred Barney to the Pennsylvania SPCA veterinary clinic.  Here the treatment continued with antibiotics and pain meds.  She was advised that surgery could be imminent, but the vet continued Barney on the same course of treatment.

For some reason, that vet was replaced by another.  When he examined Barney, emergency surgery was recommended.  And it goes downhill from there.  From the information circulating on Facebook:

…the Dr. told her that she must immediately consent for the dog to be transferred to UPenn, which would cost “a couple thousand dollars”. When Ann stated that money was tight, a female animal control officer with handcuffs entered the room and threatened to seize and euthanize Barney and charge Ann if she did not agree to immediate transfer to UPENN. Ann said that the guard also came over and started yelling at her, asking her how she could do this to her dog.

ACCT transferred Barney to UPENN, where an estimate of $10,000 was given. Before surgery could be performed, Ann had to pay a 50% deposit of $5000. She did not have that much money, but was able to get a care credit for $3700 (which she will be paying back at $97 a month) and she put the other $1300 on her credit card, maxing it out. She is elderly and on a fixed income. Barney is out of surgery but needs 1-2 weeks of hospitalization. If Ann cannot come up with the balance due by the time Barney is ready for discharge, UPENN will take custody of the dog…

WOW.  Ann is 78 years old and lives on a fixed income.  She didn’t ignore her dog’s medical needs.  When she wasn’t satisfied with Barney’s current vet care she sought out someone else.  Unfortunately, she chose the Pennsylvania SPCA (PSPCA) and was bullied into an expensive facility, under threats of seizing the dog and possible animal cruelty charges.

According to the University of Pennsylvania veterinary hospital (Matthew J. Ryan Veterinary Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania), the bill must be satisfied in full before they can release Barney to Ann.

That’s offensive.  The whole thing is offensive – the PSPCA strong-arming a senior citizen into the most expensive vet hospital in the area, and the hospital forcing her to pay this outrageous bill in order to have Barney back.  This is wrong on so many levels.

We’re not talking about a small, struggling veterinary practice. This is a major veterinary teaching hospital.  They can’t afford to discount this bill?   You know, there are medical bill advocates that examine hospital invoices for errors and find an astonishing amount of double billing errors, and outrageous costs for insignificant items – such as a 10 dollar charge for using a paper cup, or a 20 dollar charge for one ibuprophen pill.  It looks like somebody had better be going over the invoices from this vet hospital for Barney’s surgery and care.  This inflated bill is way beyond what is considered reasonable.

And the Pennsylvania SPCA should have their buns handed to them on a platter.  They’re making great headlines in the news by busting up dog-fighting rings, and now it looks like they’re going to make great headlines intimidating senior citizens.

There is an organization out there advocating for Ann and Barney.  New Jersey Aid for Animals.  Their website includes a chip-in for donating to Barney’s hospital bill.  The chip-in can also be found at Charlie to the Rescue.

Or, you can donate directly to the University of Pennsylvania Veterinary Hospital Financial Department at 1-215-898-3689. You would need to state that you are donating towards “Barnie Beagle” vet bill, owned by Ann Stanley.

Please consider donating.  Ann is on a small, fixed SSI and these extra costs are likely to leave her broke.

Hopefully legitimate news outlets will pick up on this story and put pressure on the veterinary hospital and the PSPCA.  It will be a Public Relations nightmare for them.  And I really don’t care if they cry a river.  They deserve all the bad press that’s dished out about them.

New Jersey Aid for Animals Facebook

New Jersey Aid for Animals Website

Barney Beagle Facebook (friends request required)

Charlie to the Rescue.

Please share this story with everyone, even if it is just the NJ Aid for Animals website or Charlie to the Rescue website.  This woman should not be separated from her best friend.  I’m disgusted with the behavior of the Pennsylvania SPCA and the Veterinary Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania.  They above all, should know the value of pets kept by Senior Citizens and should be helping them when they need it the most.   Shame on them!!

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