Vets dealing with animal abandonment and unpaid bills - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

Vets dealing with animal abandonment and unpaid bills

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Kate Kindig cares for abandoned animals everyday (Source: KLTV Staff) Kate Kindig cares for abandoned animals everyday (Source: KLTV Staff)
Dr. Spence has many cats up for adoption and has more than 20 that have been abandoned (Source: KLTV Staff) Dr. Spence has many cats up for adoption and has more than 20 that have been abandoned (Source: KLTV Staff)
Dr. Gary Spence says animal abandonment is a problem at his hospital (Source: KLTV Staff) Dr. Gary Spence says animal abandonment is a problem at his hospital (Source: KLTV Staff)
TYLER, TX (KLTV) - Some pet owners drop off pets for surgery, then it seems they disappear. East Texas veterinarians tell us that they've seen more and more cases of animals being abandoned after being brought in for surgery or treatment. They say in many cases, it's to get out of paying the bill, and they've run into roadblocks tracking the owners down.

Many of the cats that greet you at Dr. Gary Spence's office in Tyler were dropped off with injuries or diseases. After surgery he says it seems their owners were not ready for the financial responsibility.

"The expense gets to be so heavy that people will just disappear. You try to call them and their phones have been disconnected. You send them a bill and it comes back to you because they've changed their address," Spence said.

Some vets say in order to stop abandonment from happening, they ask for a deposit to guarantee the pet owner comes back.

"We hate to do that because when we've got hurt animals it's under an emergency situation, and we hate to sit here and say well you're going to have to pay us two or $300 up front before we can even see your pet," Spence said.

Vets say they often deal with pets that have owners, but George the cat has a different situation.

"Somebody brought him in. They saw him dragging his hind legs across the road and they thought they he had been hit by a car," Kate Kindig, Dr. Spence's assistant, said. "They brought him in and turned out he had a saddle thrombus. It was paralysis; it wasn't an accident or anything. So, he's been here ever since. The medical bills got to high and they said this isn't even our cat."

Vets say over the years they have made surgery and medicine affordable.

 "If you compare some of the bone surgeries and stuff that we do and we charge $600, $800 maybe $1,000. Human medicine with the exact same surgery; same tools, same everything is $25,000 or $30,000."

Though surgery and treatment may be affordable for some, that's not keeping some pets from being left behind.

"We've got 23 wonderful clinics in town," Spence said. "If the people can't afford good veterinary care, then they need to pass on having a pet."

Veterinarians say they have guidelines to follow for pet abandonment. If the pet owner is billed and there's no response, after a few months, the clinic has to take ownership.

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