Can A Vet Keep Your Dog For Non Payment?

If your dog’s vet bill goes so high that you can’t afford it, what’s your course of action? Can a vet keep your dog for non payment? Or is there some other way that you can pay? We will look into this in detail here.

Your pet dog is just like your child. You take him outside for your daily walks and play with him. You even share your bed and food with him sometimes. He is a guardian, friend, and may even be a babysitter for your kids sometimes!

But unfortunately, your dog can be sick just like you, or he can meet with an accident, and you need to take him to a vet. The doctor does the necessary treatment, but what if the bill becomes so high that you cannot afford it?

Can A Vet Keep Your Dog For Non Payment

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Can a vet keep my dog for non-payment? Yes, a doctor may not return your furry friend if you don’t pay his bills. The bill continues to increase because the vet charges for the food, shelter, and care provided to your pet for the days you have not paid the bill. 

But, if you cannot pay the increased bill within a fixed period, the doctor may apply lien and abonnement laws to resolve the situation. However, these laws are very complex and generally used as the final course of action.

Let’s discuss more different laws that can be applied by the Vet when a dog owner cannot pay bills.

What Does The Law Say?

#1. Lien Law

There are many states in the United States where legalized Veterinarians hold a lien status . Lien is the right to hold the property of someone till he clears his debts. 

For example, In California, a vet can keep your dog if you are unable to pay his bills after your dog receive the required service. Moreover, according to California Veterinary Medical Board, if you cannot pay the bills within ten days after receiving veterinary services, your dog will be considered liened. 

The Vet will give you a legal notice which clearly outlines ten days, and within that, full payment should be made and a brief description of what will happen if you are unable to pay the bills. 

So, if you are unable to pay within ten days, then, unfortunately, your dog can be sold to any new owner or can be placed in a dog shelter.

Can A Vet Keep Your Dog For Non Payment

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I am describing below with an example.

For instance, you bring your ailing dog to the vet. The doctor detects a blockage in his colon and tells you that it needs immediate surgery. 

The vet estimates the cost of the surgery and post-operative care at $2,600 and tells you to pay half of the estimated amount upfront. So you go ahead and pay $1300 before the surgery. 

The surgery goes well, and you receive a call to take your dog back home after two days. The next day, when you reach your office, you are presented with a bill of $4000.

So now you need to pay $2,700 instead of $1300.You don’t have enough money now to pay $2,700.The vet may refuse now to return your beloved dog.  Read here on How To Get Dog To Drink Water After Surgery.

Shockingly, the longer you are unable to pay for the surgery, the more the bill will go up! The vet may charge you extra for food, shelter, and care given to the dog. If you cannot pay the bill within the 10 day period, the doctor can sell your dog or give it to an animal shelter or euthanize the dog, depending on state laws.

Can A Vet Keep Your Dog For Non Payment

So, finally, if you and the vet cannot resolve the payment issue, then all three parties suffer, you, the dog and even the vet. The vet cannot get the total fees for the services provided to the dog. You will lose your pet forever. 

The dog will suffer as he is separated from you, and he may be sold to a new owner or placed in a dog shelter nearby. You suffer the loss of losing your healthy dog as you don’t have enough money to pay the vet.

#2. Abandonment Law

Now let’s take the case when you abandon your dog. Your dog will be considered abandoned if you have shown no interest in your dog and do not think of claiming again.

The vet sends you an abandonment notice for 14 days to give up his lien right. The fourteen-day countdown begins from that specified date. 

So, according to the abandonment law, if you have not picked your dog within fourteen days from your vet, he will be considered abandoned, and you will not have any more rights with your dog. The vet then chooses to dispose of your dog. 

Can A Vet Keep Your Dog For Non Payment

The doctor first tries to search for a new owner for your dog or place your dog in a localized animal shelter for the next ten days. But if you fail to retrieve your dog or the vet fails in finding a new home for your furry friend, then after 24 days( the initial 14 days and the next ten days), the vet has the right to euthanize the dog.

When your dog is first considered to be abandoned, the vet has the legal right to charge for food, shelter, and required medical treatment for the dog. However, that depends on the oral or written agreement between you and the vet.

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What Happens If You Don’t Have Enough Money to Take Your Dog to the Vet?

You can access funds from many charitable organizations for your pet’s treatment.

Fortunately, there are many funds in the United States designed to help you access affordable care and even free care to keep your dog healthy and live longer. I am discussing various ways below.

  • Apply for care credit that you can use for your dog’s health care.
  • You can look for a nonprofit hospital that offers charitable funds.
  • You can check for State Specific financial Assistance programs, which are mainly designed for pets’ health care.
  • You can negotiate a plan with your vet. If he is good, he may be happy to work with a monthly or quarterly payment plan.
  • You can contact a veterinarian doctor in less expensive areas to treat your dog.
  • You can check your local veterinary School. They may run a clinic for limited-income people.
  • If you have purchased your dog from a responsible breeder, then check the agreement to see whether there is any health guarantee that will cover your dog.
  • Purchase pet health insurance. The monthly premiums are low. So you will not have a problem buying insurance for your dog.
  • You can take the help of Red Rover’s Urgent care grants. The Redrover provides grants to almost 700 pet owners who cannot afford the treatment. They offer an average grant of $200 to the applicants. In 2018 Red Rover had approved nearly 80 percent of applicants. However, the decisions are made based on medical urgency and other factors.
Can A Vet Keep Your Dog For Non Payment

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Frequently Asked Questions

#1. Can a Vet send you to Collections?

Yes, a vet can send you to collections for not paying his bill. 

If the Vet knows your Social Security Number, it can affect your credit history, and he may even post a case against you in small claims court.

#2. What does a Vet do if you can’t pay in the UK?

He can refuse to release your pet.

Many animal hospitals and pet care clinics provide treatment to the sick or injured pet if you cannot afford the fees of a private vet. For instance, Blue Cross is an animal charity which provided help to sick and injured pets since 1897.

PDPSA(People’s Dispensary For Sick Animals) provides free veterinary care to the sick and injured pet if you don’t have enough money for the treatment.

#3. Can a Veterinarian refuse to release your pet in the UK?

A vet cannot refuse to provide your pet with first aid and pain relief. 

However, he may charge you additional costs for it. A Veterinary surgeon in the UK has the right to refuse to release your pet in the UK until his fees are entirely paid.

#4. Does Frontline Plus for dogs expire?

Yes, it has a shelf life printed on the label, that you should read before buying.

Frontline Plus for dogs contains an ingredient known as Methoprene, which helps kill the flea life cycle stages. It sterilizes the female flee so that she can no longer lay eggs.

Frontline Plus for dogs can expire. Some may have a shelf life of three years at the manufacturing time. So don’t use frontline plus on your dog beyond the expiry date.

#5. What Kind of dogs do Jack and Nicole have?

Jack Mace and Nicole regularly post videos regarding the experience of staying in wild woods in Canada. The couple has two Australian Cattle dogs named Kai and Puma.

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A Few Final Words

Sometimes your dog’s treatment is so high that you cannot afford it. In such a case, a Veterinarian has the legal right to keep your dog with him and can abandon him if you cannot pay the bills within a specified period. 

It is pretty depressing not only for the dog but also for you. So it’s better to purchase insurance for your pet dog. Thank you for reading, we hope the article was informative and please write to us if you have any more queries regarding the laws. 

You can also ask us questions about how you can get help if you don’t have enough money to pay for the veterinary bills. We will be happy to answer all your questions.