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A woman in Maine was forced to give her puppy up over a $10,000 veterinary bill.
Rachel Mullen said her 4-month-old German Sheperd, Jaxx, needed emergency surgery to save his life after he got a wooden skewer stuck in his stomach.
But the bill was an amount she couldn’t afford.
Mullen said that her vet suggested she take Jaxx to the Maine Veterinary Medical Center, a 24-hour emergency clinic where Jaxx was admitted.
“The last thing I did was gave him a hug and a kiss and told him to go get better,” she toldNBC affiliate KCBD.
The very next day, the clinic told Mullen the surgery was going to be over $10,000.
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As stated on the clinic’s website, half of the payment is due initially, with the rest due after the services are completed.
“You can’t come up with tens of thousands of dollars unless you have very big pockets in six hours,” Mullen said.
Mullen explained that she and her fiancé were looking all day for financing options but were only qualified for a small amount of the cost.
She said: “I was given the option to pay or surrender him.”
Mullen added the clinic told her that her beloved pup would need urgent surgery, so the workers didn’t give her 30 minutes to come in person.
As a result, she surrendered her ownership electronically.
“I signed the paper so they would help him,” Mullen said before adding that the cost was still “close to $3,000 after that.”
To get some financial support, Mullen said she started a GoFundMe account. And with the help of family, friends, and the dog’s breeder, she said they raised the money that night.
“I called and said, ‘I have the money, and I want to try and get my dog back.’ He’s gone; he’s not here,” Mullen said before adding that it was only “hours later.”
“I was given the option to pay or surrender him.”
She further said she doesn’t know where Jaxx is at the moment or how he is doing.
A spokesperson from the clinic’s corporate owner, Rarebreed Veterinary Partners, noted that when a person surrenders a pet, it is a legally binding contract.
They also said the clinic works with shelters and rescues.
Patsy Murphy of the Animal Refuge League of Greater Portland said this case is unusual.
Murphy also said that the nonprofit receives calls from vets in these situations regarding the needs of the animal and the owner’s ability to care for them.
“It’s a frequent conversation because of the financial impact families are experiencing now with the high cost of vet care,” she said.
Murphy further noted that the nonprofit prioritises keeping the pets and owners together, but they were not alerted about the situation.
On the other hand, Mullen said she isn’t giving up on Jaxx and has filed a police report.
She is also bringing her concerns to the state’s board of veterinary medicine and hopes this spreads “awareness about what she feels is very wrong to do to people.”
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