Animal Rescue Fund of South Carolina
Letters, Articles, and Comments about Our Animal Rescue Program
Letter One

"Hello, i don't expect an answer i have had the misfortune to be poor, although i work 60 hours a week, i am a single Mom, with no one but me for support, the reason i tell you this is my beloved dog, daughter of my constant companion was shot the other day, it was light bird shot and superficial, however i believe she was also hit by a car. i was going to have my son put her down, but because i thought it was just bird shot we decided to see if she would pull herself through. i picked her up and took her outside to the bathroom for the first week and a half and brought food and water to her i also gave her and still give her an aspirin a day. she was dragging her hind and legs, at this time i still thought it was just from being shot. I have done some research and since she also has a mean curve in her spine she must have a spinal injury.

OK, where you ask do you fit in? if i could have received free emergency vet care for her, perhaps i could have known sooner and found a better course of healing than just letting her do it on her own, although she is walking better now with a limp, the spine curve is still there and i can tell the whole hind hurts and sometimes she has a problem getting up on all four legs. as it is now daily i think it may be better to put her down, but i can't tell if she is in pain or not, this is just such a waste, i live in moncks corner sc. why isn't there free emergency vet care available for people, believe me, most vets are vets because of the love for pets and not the money, although they like the rest of us need that to. it would be nice if each county had a clinic staffed by volunteers and donations to help, you know sometimes just an x ray machine to see if the dog could be helped.
thanks for letting me vent.

My Response:

Well, all I can say, Miss Julie, is that when I hear people say something should be free, what that means is, "Somebody else should pay for it."  

As for "just an x-ray machine", they're quite expensive and both having an x-ray machine and using it involves a ton of rules, requirements for "certified operators," yearly inspections, complicated OSHA regulations, EPA rules on disposing of chemicals, and yearly fees paid to regulators.

Being a responsible pet owner implies not letting your pets get shot or hit by cars because you have reasonable control over their whereabouts.  It also means you have enough money to provide for their basic needs, basic veterinary care, and emergency care.  Having children and pets can be of great comfort and joy, but they entail alot of responsibility, work, love, money, and effort...or the results are fairly predictable.

Letter Two
To (S)Pay or Not to (S)Pay -- by Vivian

"Okay, here's the situation: I was perusing Dr Ross' website, ( seeking information on cat allergies. My oldest boy, Leonce was looking like he'd crammed his face in a meat grinder:  nasty, wet, blotches had popped out on his cheeks and forehead.

"After checking the allergy info, I stayed on awhile. Lots of topics are covered, along with a healthy dose of humor thrown in for fun. First I skimmed declawing. I'm not a proponent and my hackles rose. My opinion? You want a pet who won't scratch your furniture? Get a snake.

"But I moved on, somehow sensing it wasn't my day to change the world.

"Then came spaying. My Sweet Louise is past due. Lo and behold, to my surprise, the good-humored Dr. Ross was having a hissy fit. 'Why do people complain about the cost of spay and castration surgery?' he asks. 'Can't they put enough money aside to take care of their pets? If they can't, they shouldn't have pets. They blow $ on cigarettes, alcohol, lotto tickets, CD's, vacations, etc., but they want someone else to pay for their pets' basic health care.' And so on.

"Hmmmm. Maybe he has a point, I thought. And maybe not.

"You see, Sweet Louise still has her reproductive organs intact because a spay with the requisite physical and vaccine update costs at least $200. I work 4 part time jobs, with a fifth pending, and bring home around $1000 a month. I'm a college graduate, don't drink or smoke, don't play lotto, don't own a CD player, and average one vacation every 5 to 7 years. My rent and utility bills are approximately $700 a month. This doesn't include gas for my car, money for cat food, or money for my own food, medical or dental bills. Where does this extra $200 come from? By the end of each month, the cash has run out and once again Sweet Louise's spay has gone down the tubes. And my youngest, Baby Entwhistle, needs to be castrated. Cheaper, so he'll go on the table first.

"Before we proceed, I'm not a crazy cat-collector. I swore that Leonce (my splotchy-faced boy) would be my one-and-only. But my sister rescued a 5-week-old kitten from a house so over-run with cats you practically needed a gas mask to get through the door. She was in love with this kitten, but has a no-pets clause in her lease and can't keep her:  an undersized little screamer who had a cold and looked like a tiny, snotty-nosed, black rat. So I said, okay, what's one more? Albeit a loud, sticky, scrawny one. Hence, Sweet Louise.

"Two months later, a feral cat put her 3-week-old infant on the sidewalk in front of me. She sat, watched and waited. When I picked him up, she walked away. I don't know about you, but when the Universe hands me a gift, I don't say, 'Ummm No, thanks' Hence, Baby Entwhistle.

"But enough about me and my crew.

"Lots of people have hearts bigger than their wallets and can't afford vet care: Old folks on a fixed income, whose pet keeps them from being lonely. People who find an injured or lost animal, take it home, tend to it and put an ad in the paper. No response, so they keep it. Folks who can't stand to see a dog or cat caged in a pound, awaiting euthanasia, just because no one wants it. And, last but not least, mentally unstable people, like the lady whose house Sweet Louise came from.

"Speaking of which  and I digress - have you noticed that animals and crazy people often have an affinity for each other?

"Hey - Maybe the animals are onto something. Who is it that's crazy? The people who fight traffic to work 8 hours a day at a job they barely tolerate, so they can own a house they mostly only sleep in? Or the folks who, because of their alleged mental deficiencies, don't give a pig's ass (I assume I can say that, this being a vet's website) about society's standards and norms?

"I'll never forget something I saw in Manhattan a couple years ago. I was rushing to the subway  along with about a million other anonymous people  and at the entrance to the station sat a long-haired, homeless man, garbed in pungent, tattered clothing. On each knee perched a tiny, tabby kitten. Both kittens sat perfectly still, without any restraints.

"All three were awake and alert, yet they appeared unfazed by the frantic stampede surrounding them and the cacaphony of honking horns and screeching brakes in the background. The man and his kittens were one unit, content and at peace in their world.

" 'Hmmmm ...' I thought. What do they know that I don't?

"Anyway, to get back to - and wrap up - the spay/neuter issue.

"There's probably no right answer. And, as Abe Lincoln said, you can't please all of the people, etc.

"I fully appreciate not wanting to work for free (although I just spent a few hours doing this free, free-lance writing). And, for the vets, there's also the cost of surgical packs, assistance, and so on. But on the other hand, there are legitimate reasons for low-cost or no-cost vet care.

"So ... Suppose every vet in the country donated half a day a month - or every 2 months, or even every six months - to necessary surgeries? That would help, wouldn't it?

"What would be even better is if the government set up a fund to help people keep their pets healthy. I know I'm dreaming here, but I'd really rather see millions of tax dollars spent on animal (and human) welfare than on yet another rocket hurtling through space, hell-bent on some useless mission.

"Okay, so let's say vets decide to volunteer their time. How will they know who can't afford surgery and who can, without getting involved in tons of paperwork and background checks? The answer is simple: They won't. They'd have to inform clients that this is for those who are financially challenged, and then proceed on trust.

"Will that work? Yes. Because the Universe believes in perfect balance  and the Universe runs the show, whether we like it or not.

"The person who 'scams' the vet will lose something somewhere down the line, and the doc and his legitimate patients will gain in some way. It's guaranteed. The connections may not be obvious, but they will be there.

"Perhaps this sounds far-fetched, but I've seen it happen far too often not to believe. And, if you stop and pay attention, in ways that perhaps you hadn't thought to do before, you'll also begin to recognize the same cause and effect principle at work in the world.

"Well, that's my side. Maybe you agree and maybe you don't. Hopefully, I have at least kept your interest for a few moments. My heartfelt thanks to Dr. Ross for letting me share my thoughts with you. If you have comments, please feel free to contact  me at
Leonce, Sweet Louise, & Baby Entwhistle"

My Response:

Thanks for the article, I'll be placing it on the site on the letters/misc page in the next day or two.  A quick correction: A good exam, vaccinations, deworming, and spaying cost $130 at our clinic, not "at least $200". We also take $5 off when people tell us it's a stray situation.  The nice people then donate that $5 to our stray fund.

Just so you know, every vet I know ends up doing lots of charity surgery and animal care.  Some more than others.  Hardship stories like yours, in this most prosperous of countries, are told to us several times a week.  I believe you.  And every county ends up killing hundreds of pets a month due to lack of homes. But in immediate defense of vets, they are among the few who actually spend their time and money actually doing something about the problem as opposed to the many people who are outraged that somebody (else) isn't solving the problem.

As far as your universe theory goes, I like your vibes, but my observation of reality is that if we allowed nature to take it's course, the over population of unwanted dogs and cats would be solved by disease, starvation, wild dog packs, a devastating impact on other competing fauna, and predation; not some kind of nirvanic harmony.

So I'm a big fan of population control through neutering. I'm not such a big fan of populaton control through county euthanasia, although I don't have any viable alternatives. So the only real question is as you say ... who should pay for it? 

As for your belief in the "honor" system, I wish you'd believe in it enough to pay me $5 everytime I trusted the public about money matters and they ended up being untrustworthy.

Also, on this subject of being untrustworthy: Lots of animal-loving volunteers donate and raise money to fund various low cost neuter programs in hopes that people short on money will neuter their pets. Vets throughout the land sacrifice their profits (and their time they could otherwise devote to responsible owners) to offer neutering at reduced prices.

Who takes advantage of these programs? 

More often than not, the middle class and well off. It's frustrating. 

Even more interesting: even when a shelter pet is placed in a new home and the new owners are given a certificate for a free spay or castration...and sign and promise to get that pet neutered, about 30% don't do it!

(This is why many shelters require neutering before the pet can be taken home.)

This puts a light on the real problem: while many people "love" animals, a huge number of people are pretty worthless and no account when it comes to actually taking care or their pets, let alone helping others.  (This is very similar to the problem of parenting, marriage, and many other critical responsibilities: warm and fuzzy intentions, but abusive, neglectful, ignorant, unfaithful, untrustworthy, and irresponsible follow through.)

Unfortunately, you can't legislate character.

Regards, Roger Ross

Veterinarians End Up Looking Ethical

The news you don't hear: You've seen the "60 Minutes" type shows that expose various people, institutions, and professions for being less than honest etc.  Well, a network reporter took his healthy dog to 17 different veterinarians to see whether any of them would recommend unneeded tests, treatments, or surgery.  Not a single one did!  Apparently the reporter was disappointed, but not me...I'm very proud of my fellow vets.


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I get a fair number of letters from my clients, and they're always interesting and often thought-provoking. If you'll forgive my outspokenness -- I tend to have strong opinions when it comes to animals -- here's a sampling of a few letters, and my responses:
Updated 6/30/11
This is a gas chamber machine for killing pets.  Please help us make such machines obsolete.
Here are a couple of photographs that offer some food for thought -- about how important it is to spay and neuter your pets, and the alternative if we  can't get the animal population under control through humane efforts ...
Cats in a shelter awaiting adoption.
Since 6/29/11