Proposed Legislation Gives Hope to CA Pet Owners Facing Large Vet Bills

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Here’s some good news for California pet parents…a bill introduced by State Assemblyperson Devon Mathis (R-Visalia) seeks to provide assistance to pet owners seeking help for large veterinary expenses. The proposed legislation, Assembly Bill 942, would provide for an income tax credit that would let California pet owners write off half of the money spent on veterinary care, up to $2,000 per year.

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According to an article in the Sacramento Bee, this tax credit would be for dog and cat owners only, and would cover expenses like vaccinations, check-ups, surgery, X-rays, and prescriptions.

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Mathis was inspired to introduce this bill based on the sad fact that pet owners sometimes have to euthanize a seriously sick or injured animal because they cannot afford treatment. The FACE Foundation was founded to end the tragedy of economic euthanasia by providing financial assistance to qualified pet owners for life-saving veterinary care.

We applaud the effort by Assemblyperson Mathis to help end economic euthanasia across California. As he says, “It helps everyone across the state, every family and every pet lover out there.” We couldn’t agree more!

 

A FACE in the Spotlight: Meet Dr. Seth Ganz

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Dr. Ganz and Rebel

In addition to being a surgeon at FACE partner Veterinary Specialty Hospital, Dr. Seth Ganz also serves as a Veterinary Relations Advisor on FACE’s Advisory Committee.   Dr. Ganz’s dedication to saving the lives of pets in need of urgent veterinary care is obvious. “As a doctor, I like knowing that there may be a chance to help an animal and the family when another option isn’t available,” says Dr. Ganz. “I’m just always grateful that I am in a position where I can help!”

Dr. Ganz has a DVM from Tufts University School of Veterinary Medicine. He completed a 3 year small animal surgical residency in Wisconsin and is board certified by the American College of Veterinary Surgeons. Dr. Ganz performs a wide range of surgeries, including orthopedic and soft tissue surgery as well as neurosurgery. What’s his most memorable FACE case? “They are all equally memorable, whether the actual case was more severe/dramatic/unusual, it doesn’t matter,” says Dr. Ganz. Dr. Ganz is grateful for the opportunity to perform surgeries on pets that would otherwise be debilitated, die, or be euthanized for economic reasons.

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Dr. Ganz and Winter

 Dr. Ganz values his collaborative relationship with FACE. “It’s a special group of people and it was started purely as a desire to solve a real problem and make a real difference,” he notes. As for himself, “It’s a chance to be involved with a group that has shown a determination to make a significant impact on the lives of so many animals and their families here in San Diego,” he says. In his role as FACE Advisory Committee Member, Dr. Ganz advises on decisions for funding medical care for potential FACE grantees. “This allows the organization to use donations in the most effective manner and maximize the intended result per donated dollar,” explains Dr. Ganz.

While Dr. Ganz enjoys his work at the hospital and with FACE, he also values spending his off-time with his wife, young twin boys, and a one-eyed pit bull-mix named Winter. Dr. Ganz enjoys running and biking, and hopes to travel to new destinations with his wife when life gets a bit less hectic!

Dr. Ganz enthusiastically recommends that other veterinary practices consider working with FACE or other organizations with a similar mission in their geographic area. “They want to help,” he says. “They want to get their donations to the pets that need them. Vets want to help every patient. It’s a win-win. Enough said!” We couldn’t agree more, Dr. Ganz! Thanks to you and all of your colleagues at VSH for helping us save the lives of pets in need!

 

 

 

The 15 Most Dangerous Pet Toxins

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The experts in veterinary toxicology at the Animal Poison Control Center recently put out a very useful list of the top 15 drugs, household items, and plants that are dangerous to pets. Here’s a quick rundown. Be sure to check out their website for the complete story, lots of valuable information about pet poisons, and to learn more about the 24/7 Pet Poison Helpline: 855-764-7661.

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  1. Sago Palm. An ornamental plant that is highly toxic and can cause liver failure in pets. Unsafe as an indoor or outdoor plant.

2. 5-Fluorouracil. A topical chemotherapy treatment which can be deadly to pets.

3. Baclofen. A human muscle relaxant that can cause seizures, coma, and death in pets.

4. Isoniazid. A treatment for tuberculosis, this drug can cause severe toxic reactions in pets.

5. Calcipotriene/Calcipotriol. A synthetic form of Vitamin D. Even a tiny amount can be toxic to pets.

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6. Lilies. Lilies are especially toxic to cats…even the pollen. Ingesting lilies causes acute kidney failure in cats.

7. Ethylene Glycol. This is the sweet-tasting but toxic ingredient in antifreeze that causes kidney failure and central nervous system distress in pets.

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8. Metaldehyde. An ingredient in snail and slug bait. Causes seizures, tremors, and hypothermia in pets.

9. Baking Xylitol. This type of sugar substitute is especially toxic to dogs, even more so than the xylitol in gum or candy, because it is 100% xylitol.

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10. Golden Malrin. A fly bait that can cause the same symptoms as organophosphates (see #11).

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11. Organophosphates. A type of insecticide that causes severe central nervous system, heart, and digestive reactions in pets.

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12. Rodenticides made with Vitamin D or Bromethalin. Two very dangerous types of rodent killer that are designed to be attractive to animals. Ones made with Vitamin D cause kidney failure and those with bromethalin cause brain swelling.

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13. Japanese Yew. All parts of this ornamental plant are toxic to pets. In fact, horses can die if they graze on the trimmings.

14. Caffeine Pills. This includes diet and fitness supplements that contain caffeine. Pets are extremely sensitive to the effects of caffeine.

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15. Grapes and Raisins. Can cause severe kidney failure in pets, even just a small amount.

 

New Report Highlights Parallels between Human and Pet Health Care Spending

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The National Bureau of Economic Research recently released a Working Paper that discusses key similarities between our own health care and the care that we provide for our dogs, cats, and other pets. The authors point to 4 main areas where U.S. economic data indicates that our human and pet health spending patterns converge. Here’s a brief rundown:

Rapid growth in human and pet health care spending over the last two decades.

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Pet care has experienced greater growth than all other areas of household spending categories. Next is human health care, followed by housing, and lastly, entertainment. Data shows strong growth in pet care spending beginning around 2005-2006 that continues at a high rate today.

A strong correlation between income and pet & human health spending.

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Not surprisingly, households in the highest income category ($70,000 annually and above) spend more on human and pet health care (as well as housing and entertainment) than households in lower income categories. Pet spending is 114% more in the highest income households than in the lowest.

Rapid growth in the employment of human and pet health care providers.

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The supply of human health care providers and pet health care professionals has grown dramatically over the past couple of decades. While the supply of human physicians has increased 40% between 1996 and 2013, the supply of veterinarians has doubled.

High spending for end-of-life care for both humans and pets.

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A comparison of end-of-life care for pets and humans (using canine cancer patients and human cancer patients on Medicare) shows that there is a distinct end-of-life spending spike (particularly in the last month of life) for both. Human spending begins to increase 3-4 months prior to death while pet spending generally increases just one month before.

 

What’s the Impact of “Corporatization” on Our Pets’ Veterinary Care?

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Is the solo veterinary practice becoming a thing of the past? Like health care for humans, veterinary care for pets is dramatically changing with the growth of large corporate pet hospitals like Banfield and VCA. Many Americans are choosing to bypass the corner pet store and shop for pet supplies at big box retailers…so it’s not such a surprise to see a vet practice, dog training area, and groomer when you enter these stores. But are we sacrificing quality for convenience?

A recent in-depth article on Bloomberg.com takes a long hard look at the corporatization of veterinary care. It’s a must-read for any concerned pet owner. The article profiles a veterinarian named John Robb who has worked in his own practice, as well as for Banfield and VCA, over the course of his career. He fears that a standardized, one-size-fits-all approach to pet care may be doing more harm than good. What’s the biggest bone of contention for Robb and many other critics of the corporate approach? The over-vaccination of pets because vaccines are such a significant source of income.

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The debate about whether or not we are over-vaccinating our pets, to the detriment of their health, is very complicated. But there is a growing sentiment among experts that “wellness plans” which include multiple, repeated vaccines are unnecessary and maybe even dangerous, given hazards like bad reactions to shots and even injection-site cancers. These risks have many people asking “How much is too much?”

Besides vaccines, another source of profit is diagnostic testing. Did you know that VCA owns Antech Diagnostics, a laboratory that performs testing for 50% of the nation’s veterinary hospitals? This translates to 41% of VCA’s operating profit. While bloodwork and other diagnostic testing can certainly save lives, some critics are concerned that appropriate care can take a backseat to easy profits.

According to the article, corporations now own between 15-20% of all veterinary practices in the U.S., whether they build their own or purchase existing practices from independent veterinarians. Many states actually have laws prohibiting the corporate ownership of veterinary practices, but companies can work around them using complicated management structures.

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The bottom line for pet owners? We should approach veterinary care the same way we approach our own medical care. Don’t be afraid to shop around for a veterinary practice you feel comfortable with, and it’s OK to ask questions and get second opinions about your pet’s care, the same as you would for your own. Whether you choose a small vet practice or a large one, being a well-informed advocate for your pet’s health is the best thing you can do.