Desperate Pet Owner Grateful For The Humane Society’s Last Resort

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Samantha Schacht made the heartbreaking decision to give up her golden retriever when presented with an expensive vet bill for her extremely sick dog.

The Winnipeg woman was unable to afford emergency surgery on her eight-year-old dog, Lexi, after she developed a treatable uterine infection called pyometra over Easter weekend.

“I was screaming my eyes out,” Schacht said.


JOHN WOODS / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS

Samantha Schacht couldn’t afford emergency surgery on her eight-year-old dog, Lexi, after she developed a treatable uterine infection called pyometra over the Easter weekend.” width=”1372″ height=”2048″ srcset =”https://media.winnipegfreepress.com/images/400*400/NEP344341_web_220419_Samantha_Schacht_2.jpg 400w,https://media.winnipegfreepress.com/images/600*600/NEP344341_web_220419_Samantha_Schacht_2.jpg 600w,https://media. winnipegfreepress.com/images/700*700/NEP344341_web_220419_Samantha_Schacht_2.jpg 700w”/>

JOHN WOODS / FREE WINNIPEG PRESS

Samantha Schacht couldn’t afford emergency surgery on her eight-year-old dog, Lexi, after she developed a treatable uterine infection called pyometra over the Easter weekend.

“I was so overwhelmed. It was honestly one of the most heartbreaking times of my life.”

Schacht took Lexi to Winnipeg Animal Emergency Hospital on Pembina Highway on Saturday. It is one of only two 24-hour emergency veterinary hospitals in the city.

Dr. David Scammell told Schacht his pet needed immediate, life-saving surgery for the infection, which is common in mature female dogs who have not been spayed.

Under the City of Winnipeg’s Responsible Pet Ownership Bylaw, dogs over the age of six months must be spayed or neutered unless the owner has a valid license for an unfixed dog.

Scammell said he described the diagnosis and procedure, that it would cost about $2,000, and put Schacht in touch with administrative staff to settle the payment.

Schacht said she didn’t have the money.

The emergency hospital does not negotiate payment plans with pet owners and instead suggested Schacht apply for Medicard, a third-party financier that allows monthly payments. She was not eligible because her husband’s income is too high, she said.


SHANNON VANRAES / DOSSIERS DE PRESSE GRATUITS</p>
<p> Schacht took Lexi to Winnipeg Animal Emergency Hospital on Pembina Highway on Saturday.  It is one of only two 24-hour emergency veterinary hospitals in the city.” width=”1024″ height=”671″ srcset=”https://media.winnipegfreepress.com/images/400 *400/ANIMAL+HOSPITAL_212.JPG 400w,https://media.winnipegfreepress.com/images/600*600/ANIMAL+HOSPITAL_212.JPG 600w,https://media.winnipegfreepress.com/images/700*700/ANIMAL +HOSPITAL_212.JPG 700w,https://media.winnipegfreepress.com/images/800*800/ANIMAL+HOSPITAL_212.JPG 800w,https://media.winnipegfreepress.com/images/900*900/ANIMAL+HOSPITAL_212.JPG 900w,https://media.winnipegfreepress.com/images/1000*1000/ANIMAL+HOSPITAL_212.JPG 1000w”/>				</a>								
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<p>SHANNON VANRAES / FREE PRESS KITS</p>
<p>Schacht took Lexi to Winnipeg Animal Emergency Hospital on Pembina Highway on Saturday.  It is one of only two 24-hour emergency veterinary hospitals in the city.</figcaption></figure>
<p>At that time, she was told she could turn her pet over to the Winnipeg Humane Society to get health care for her dog.			</p>
<p>When Schacht decided to leave with Lexi, she said the staff told her that refusing animal care would be neglect.  They gave her the option of paying for the operation or turning the dog over to the humane society.			</p>
<p>“They didn’t necessarily say I couldn’t (leave), they just said, ‘Those are your options, pick one,'” Schacht said.			</p>
<p>Scammell disagreed with Schacht’s account, saying that Schacht voluntarily handed over his animal.			</p>
<p>It is the owner’s responsibility to ensure their pet’s quality of life and pay for preventive and emergency care, he said, adding that untreated infection would likely lead to death.  The clinic therefore offered Schacht the alternative.			</p>
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“They didn’t necessarily say I couldn’t (leave), they just said, ‘Those are your options, pick one. “” – Samantha Schacht

Such situations occur daily in emergency hospitals and are disheartening and frustrating for veterinary staff, he said.

“It’s a tension, to be honest…we just wish people had cash on hand or had an insurance policy or something,” he said.

The hospital offers reduced rates for the Humane Society, and staff frequently provide free animal care.

“We’re just not ready to fund everyone,” he said. “There are certain scenarios where we will crane our necks…but (we) can’t for every customer that comes in. There’s a certain responsibility for pet ownership.

“Listen, if you take an animal, be prepared to pay.”


SHANNON VANRAES / PRESSE GRATUITE DE WINNIPEG</p>
<p>"There are certain scenarios where we will strain our heads…but (we) cannot for every customer that comes in.  There is a certain responsibility for the ownership of a pet," said Dr. David Scammell.” width=”1024″ height=”670″ srcset=”https://media.winnipegfreepress.com/images/400*400/ANIMAL+HOSPITAL_28.JPG 400w,https://media. winnipegfreepress.com/images/600*600/ANIMAL+HOSPITAL_28.JPG 600w,https://media.winnipegfreepress.com/images/700*700/ANIMAL+HOSPITAL_28.JPG 700w,https://media.winnipegfreepress.com/ images/800*800/ANIMAL+HOSPITAL_28.JPG 800w,https://media.winnipegfreepress.com/images/900*900/ANIMAL+HOSPITAL_28.JPG 900w,https://media.winnipegfreepress.com/images/1000* 1000/ANIMAL+HOSPITAL_28.JPG 1000w”/>				</a>								
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<p>SHANNON VANRAES / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS</p>
<p>“There are certain scenarios where we will crane our necks…but (we) can’t for every customer that comes in. There’s some accountability for pet ownership,” Dr. David Scammell said.</figcaption></figure>
<p>Schacht made the painful decision to abandon the dog in order to save his life.			</p>
<p>Hospital staff placed Lexi on an intravenous drip and turned her over to the Humane Society.  The dog underwent surgery – a process that involved a hysterectomy – on Sunday and is recovering.			</p>
<p>After explaining the situation and paying the Humane Society about $500, Schacht got the dog back on Monday.			</p>
<p>She covered the cost with money donated to a GoFundMe effort she organized.  In total, she raised about $700 and plans to donate the balance to the Humane Society.			</p>
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<p>JOHN WOODS / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS</p>
<p>  “The whole experience was just terrible. My end goal is just to educate people so they don’t have to go through the heartbreak that I went through," says Schacht.” width=”1440″ height=”2048″ srcset=”https://media.winnipegfreepress.com/images/400*400/NEP344341_web_220419_Samantha_Schacht_3.jpg 400w,https://media.winnipegfreepress.com/images/ 600*600/NEP344341_web_220419_Samantha_Schacht_3.jpg 600w,https://media.winnipegfreepress.com/images/700*700/NEP344341_web_220419_Samantha_Schacht_3.jpg 700w”/>				</a>								
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<p>JOHN WOODS / FREE WINNIPEG PRESS</p>
<p>“The whole experience was just awful.  My end goal is just to educate people so they don’t have to go through the heartbreak that I went through,” Schacht said.</p>
</figcaption></figure>
<p>The organization sometimes subsidizes pet owners’ costs with its urgent care program, CEO Jessica Miller said.			</p>
<p>The program is generally reserved for animals injured in accidents or poisoned and not used to treat common illnesses such as pyometra, Miller said.			</p>
<p>Before a Humane Society veterinarian can treat an animal, a person must revoke their rights as a registered owner, Miller said.			</p>
<p>Whenever possible, the organization tries to reconnect owners with their pets unless neglect or abuse is suspected.			</p>
<p>“Very often our animals in need of emergency care go straight back to their owners,” Miller said.  “We don’t want to keep them. There’s no benefit to keeping them. We just want to make sure the animal is treated in the most humane way possible.”			</p>
<p>She warns pet owners not to rely on the program, which costs the organization $20,000 a month and is considered a last resort.			</p>
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“We don’t want to keep them. There is no benefit to keeping them. We just want to make sure the animal is treated in the most humane way possible. –Jessica Miller

Insurance and preventative care such as spaying, neutering, vaccinations and regular checkups are always better alternatives, she said, adding that the Humane Society offers low-income residents support for these services. through its primary care program.

Schacht is grateful to have Lexi safely home.

“The whole experience was just terrible,” she said. “My end goal is just to educate people so they don’t have to go through the heartbreak that I went through. Thank goodness I’m getting her back, because it could have ended completely differently.”

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