An emergency medical procedure for guide dog Captain Midnight has left Sechelt’s Bill Conway with a large vet bill and little ability to pay it.
The local blind man and accessibility advocate lives on a disability pension with no allowance for emergency medical care of his seeing eye dog.
“They give us roughly $95 a month for care of the dog for food and grooming and any vet bills, and $95 does not go that far,” Conway said, noting he spends the majority of that money on dog food each month.
Recently Conway said he was caught in a rainstorm with Captain Midnight when a cyst that was on the dog’s back opened up.
Unable to see what was going on, Conway said he tried to clean the wound, which resulted in a mess on him and the animal.
He quickly went to the Sunshine Coast Pet Hospital to see if they could help.
“It definitely needed to be dealt with right away. It was infected and pussy and all over the place because the owner can’t see,” pet hospital office manager Holly Davies said.
Veterinarians cleaned the area, treated the wound and ended up taking out a mass about two centimetres long and two centimetres wide from Captain Midnight’s back.
The surgery would normally cost about $1,600, Davies said, but the Sunshine Coast Pet Hospital absorbed some of that cost and charged Conway around $1,000 instead.
Davies said the pet hospital has also been administering after-care for free, helping Conway keep the area clean and administering medication to Captain Midnight because staff wants “to help out as much as we can.”
“I just can’t thank them enough,” Conway said, noting the pet hospital has allowed him to pay what he can when he can on the bill.
“Thanks is not enough because the care and dedication they give to animals is overwhelming sometimes.”
A friend suggested Conway put something on Facebook asking for donations to help lower his bill at the Sunshine Coast Pet Hospital and he was able to, with some assistance.
Donations started coming in to the pet hospital, and now Conway’s bill is at about $700.
“I’m so thankful to the social media people for assisting me in this dilemma,” he said.
He plans to push for emergency pet care funding for disabled people who rely on service dogs in the future and noted this is the first time in 35 years he’s had a dog that required emergency surgery.
He will raise the issue at his next Canadian Council of the Blind meeting, where he is a provincial director.
If you would like to give to help lessen Conway’s bill, you can drop off a donation at the Sunshine Coast Pet Hospital at 5653 Wharf Ave. in Sechelt. The office is open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday to Friday and 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday.
For more information, contact the pet hospital at 604-740-8208.