Pet insurance can help ease owner burden - WBTV 3 News, Weather, Sports, and Traffic for Charlotte, NC

Pet insurance can help ease owner burden

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CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) - When you're an animal lover, there's not much you won't do to help your pet. But the cost of vet bills can be overwhelming if you don't plan ahead.

It's a lesson WBTV's Melissa Hankins is learning the hard way.

The Hankins family has two dogs - Joey, a little Yorkie; and Harley, a rowdy Maltese.

Joey used to be pretty rambunctious too, but lately he's been slowing down, like he doesn't feel good.

So Melissa and her Mom, Sue, took him to the vet.

"His breathing is off, it seems like its labored," Sue explains. "And, you know, I had attributed some of that to his age, because he is ten years old."

It's not just Joey's age though - turns out he has a lot of internal problems. His gallbladder is swollen, and it needs to come out.

But after a thousand dollars worth of scans, vets say there are also masses in his liver. Removing Joey's gallbladder, which would cost $4,000, could help.

"Or we could get that horrible phone call," says Joey's vet Kay Wahl of NorthCross Veterinary. "That the disease is more progressive, more advanced than anyone suspected."

Now the Hankins family has a really tough decision to make.

"Dogs become your family members and my heart would be broken if I didn't do anything for him," Sue says, "so we're caught between a rock and a hard place."

Wahl wishes they had pet insurance.

"I think it's very worth it," she says, "because of cases like this."

And now so does Melissa and her Mom.

"My Mom did some research," Melissa says, "and she's going to get insurance for Harley, but we have a big decision to make about Joe."

Wahl says she sees families struggle with this all the time.

"I've known people that would not feed themselves to take care of their pets," she says.

 Wahl says there are a host of different companies that offer pet insurance. 

Of course you'll want to make sure you choose one that's on the up-and-up.

Wahl says the best idea is just to ask your vet for a recommendation.

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