How One L.A. Filmmaker Saved His Pet’s Life with The Help of Friends and Facebook

Last summer, on the way to a 4th of July BBQ, *Jeff Hoffman noticed something strange about his dog Peanut.

“He repeatedly laid down flat on the sidewalk, and refused to continue walking,” Jeff said. “I mistook this as his reaction to the fireworks going off around the neighborhood, and reluctantly carried him the remainder of the way.”

After arriving at the BBQ, Jeff noticed that Peanut was lying in an odd position on a sofa, then changing position, and then changing again.

 

“He looked like he couldn’t figure out how to be comfortable,” Jeff said.

A few moments later, Peanut jumped down from the sofa, let out an unnatural high pitched squeal, and bolted to hide under a desk. Fortunately, one of the people attending the BBQ was a veterinarian, and Jeff found her and asked for advice.

“She said that in the best case scenario, he mildly tweaked his back, and proper rest would alleviate the condition with the help of some anti-inflammatory medication she gave us,” Jeff said. “But if he appeared to be in pain and I noticed him dragging his legs, I should take him to the 24 hour emergency clinic immediately. We decided to go home so that I could monitor his behavior.”

That evening was incredibly stressful for Jeff. Peanut couldn’t lie down in his normal position, and he refused to sleep. He sat on his rear end with his head staring straight up at the ceiling. Anytime Jeff tried to help him get more comfortable, Peanut’s breathing increased and he let out little whimpers. Jeff stayed up with him for hours and finally decided to test his legs by standing him upright.

“To my horror, his attempt to walk was without any control over his rear legs, which dragged numbly behind him,” Jeff said. “At 4 in the morning, I took him to the ER.”

The High Cost Of Emergency Pet Care

The vets at the emergency clinic discovered that Peanut had a pinched/herniated disc, a condition common in long-bodied dogs like dachshunds.

“I was devastated to learn how much Peanut had been suffering,” Jeff said. “He had paralyzing inflammation in his lower body; I felt terrible for him. Immediate surgery was required to prevent permanent paralysis.”

Peanut underwent emergency surgery performed by a neurologist at the clinic. The neurologist removed the inflamed tissue that was pressuring the spinal column, and Peanut remained under veterinary care for two days following the surgery.

The cost? $5,500, not including the pain medications and sleeping pills prescribed to Peanut.

“At first I wasn’t sure how I was going to be able to pay for it all. I’ve never had pet insurance,” Jeff said. “Though I was aware of the possibility that Peanut could suffer this injury because he’s a dachshund, I didn’t do my research and assumed that it only occurred later in life.”

The vet clinic suggested that Jeff sign up for a CareCredit credit card. CareCredit immediately approved a line of credit to cover Jeff’s expenses, and it included a 0% interest rate if paid within 6 months of activation.

“Payment was taxing,” Jeff said. “But luckily I was able to pay off the debt before interest kicked in, which would have included retroactive interest starting at the date of the original surgery payment.”

Paying Off The Credit Card, Creatively

In order to pay off the CareCredit card within 6 months, Jeff knew that he would need some help.

“My friend group was hugely supportive and they were all actively pushing me to create a fundraiser to help cover Peanut’s expenses,” Jeff said. “Another friend of mine did a similar campaign using Kickstarter to cover his own dog’s surgery, but I felt uncomfortable asking for money.”

But then, Jeff found a creative way to pay back the people who wanted to support him.

“Some friends who own a letterpress company offered to donate their time and skill set, so instead of using Kickstarter I created a Facebook page and linked it to a Paypal account. Suggested donations of $10, $15, and $30 were reciprocated with a variety of handmade letterpress coasters and 5×7″ card prints featuring drawings of Peanut done by an artist friend of mine.”

This clever campaign raised $2400.

“Raising that money was a huge relief,” Jeff said. “It not only helped me pay back the credit card in time, it also lifted my spirits to see how much my friends supported me and Peanut.”

Peanut had a difficult recovery. He couldn’t walk for the first three weeks, he required a sling to support his midsection, and he wasn’t able to properly function his hindquarters.

“It was tough to watch,” Jeff said.

In all, it took about 6 weeks for Peanut to reach his current mobility, which Jeff says is probably 90-95% of what it was before the injury.

Hindsight Is 20/20

Jeff says that if he could do it all over again, he would sign up for pet insurance from the start.

“I would definitely recommend pet insurance, especially with purebred dogs,” Jeff said. “Most varieties should expect to encounter some health issue throughout their lifetime and it’s much easier to deal with the small insurance bills compared to veterinary bills. Peanut’s surgery could have potentially cost upwards of $7500, and some other surgeries are more costly.”

Today, Peanut is feeling much better, though he still has trouble balancing from time to time.

“He’s a trooper,” Jeff said. “He’s been through a lot, but he’s still got a great attitude. When I see him wobble a little bit, I’m reminded that this could happen again — it often does. And now he has a pre-existing condition, which makes it hard to sign him up for insurance. But we’re going to stick together. I’m going to stick by him.”

After hearing Jeff and Peanut’s story, we decided to offer them a complimentary year of PetPlus coverage. PetPlus offers deep discounts on pet medications plus savings on vet visits, vaccines, kenneling, and thousands of pet supplies. AND PetPlus covers ALL cats and dogs with no exclusions for pre-existing conditions.

“Wow,” Jeff said. “That’s so generous! Peanut and I can’t thank you enough.”

We thank you, Jeff, for sharing your story with us!

*Upon request the PetSavvy editors changed Jeff and Peanut’s real name for professional reasons. The other details of the story are completely true to real life.

Have a story you’d like to share or know a pet-family deserving of a free trial of PetPlus? Contact the Pet Savvy editors at content [at] petplus {dot} com or leave a note in the comments below. We’d love to hear from you!

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3 Comments

  1. 1

    i love my pets and take as good care of them,
    if not better than myself. i would love to rescue a second cat
    but the expense stops me from doing so.
    i volunteer with Kitten Rescue, a great los angeles,calif
    organization. so i get to play with many more pets.

  2. 2

    We rescued our first dog, Buck, off the streets of Dallas. He had a very rough start and almost died at 6 weeks old and the vet didn’t think he would make it. But my husband, Rudy, has extensive experience with dogs and took vacation time and helped him make it through poisoning, the burns, parvo and the flea infestation. A few years later we got another dog at a shelter, Bear – he was always a little clumsy and got a couple of cysts on his head that needed to be removed (because he kept bumping into things) but he seemed healthy otherwise. He and Buck are the best of friends and are the light of our lives. When Bear turned 3 years old, that is when things got tough for Bear and our finances. He developed epilepsy and the vet visits became more frequent to control his dosages and check his liver. This is a lifetime thing and he is still a relatively young dog (he just turned 4 years old.) Because of Bear’s size, he is a German Shepherd mix, it is harder to control, and so his medications are more expensive as well as the frequency of vet calls. Bear can have anywhere between 4 and 1 seizure a month depending on how well we can control his seizures. We just added another medication. We live on the water and thank goodness I am home most of the time (or someone is) so we can watch him and make sure he is okay when he is outside (sometimes I worry at certain times of the month when he is about due for a seizure that he will have one when he is swimming… you can see why I would worry). We would love to rescue another puppy because of my husband’s experience, but now we can’t afford to. Buck and Bear will be with us the rest of their lives – we have no problem growing old with our dogs, but we would love to have more. We live on 5 acres in farm country and have the space – and Bear and Buck love to run and play while I make movies and photos of them. 😀

  3. 3
    Bonnie Gansemer

    Hi…I’m really happy that there are people like you to help when the terrible happens. I wish I would have had insurance for my Golden Retriever Tripper on Oct. 21st.,2012. I was combining corn & Tripper was out in the field, chasing rabbits. The last I saw of him, he was going over the ridge after one, & the next thing I knew my husband was screaming & waving his arms. Apparently, as I was backing up to get lined up for the next rows, the rabbit changed directions & ran right under the combine…with Tripper right on his tail. Of course, I backed over Tripper’s hips, breaking one, & dislocating the other one, besides several broken bones in between the hips. It was a long haul for us, but after 12 days in ICU, several trips for therapy, & over $15,000.00 later, he now still can hunt squirrels again. He’s slower now, but at least he is still with us. He was 10 when that happened. He had cancer at age 5, & lost his lower right jaw. BUT HE IS STILL WITH US, & that’s all that matters ! We LOVE our boy, & hope we have many more years with him.

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