Thursday, June 18, 2009

Canine casualties of the property bubble...

We have a client in one of our clinics who shall remain unnamed in todays monologue. A big brash builders foreman who earned his first weeks wage under the benevolent conciliatory largesse of Ahern and who has now joined his first dole queue during the chilly and pragmatic stewardship of Cowen. In keeping with the time He collected four or five beautiful big pedigree dogs, rottweillars mostly. For good measure when the new house was built and fenced off he added three or four ponies until the healthy growing menagerie began to create healthy growing Vets bills. Wisely, an insurance policy was taken out for each dog so that the monthly premium to Allianz replaced the unexpected.
Pet Plan are a subsidiary of allianz Insurance Company who have the Pet Insurance market more or less to themselves. It is a problematic business. Insuring horses is a minefield as Irelands army of canny horse dealers would out smart and bankrupt any insurance company. Insuring pets is also not without risks as pur bred blue blood canines have their breed specific congenital defects which can be troublesome and expensive to treat. In fact some of these defects can be so wide spread ,such as hip dysplasia in the German Shepherd and Entropion in the Sharpei, that insurers request extensive examinations before accepting a dog or will simply insist on an exclusion clause in the policy for certain defects or conditions.
Our hero's first few years as a pet owner were uneventful as his pride of rottweillars grew as healthily as his bank balance. The new house was sold for one of those improbable sums of the halcyon peak era and a newer and bigger one with more room for dogs and ponies built next door. We didnt see our hero very often in the clinic but I made the occasional house call to the ponies and would often note that the wad I was paid from was matched only by the size of the newest tattoo on the arm.
Until last week, when he reappeared with a rottweilar I hadnt seen in a few years which now had a severe hind limb lameness. We admitted Jake, a 4 year old 52 kg male rotti, for sedation, examination and x-rays. A diagnosis of rupture of the anterior cruciate ligament of the stifle was made after the " draw test"- a type of manipulation of the stifle joint and a tell tale sign for cruciate injury.
Repair of this condition is by a surgical repair using a prolene ( a form of nylon) replacement for the torn ligament. The tricky procedure is then followed by lengthy rest, physio and then controlled exercise to test the new ligament. Surgery in a dog like Jake would be a three hour affair involving two Vets, two Nurses, numerous X-rays. Jake would stay with us for perhaps three days and need the best antibiotics available to us for up to ten days afterwards.
We gave a quote for Jakes total Veterinary work as an estimate of 750-950 euro; The final figure would depend on soreness/swelling post-surgery etc.
The owners bellow of anguish seemed out of character and a far cry from his ebullient old self.
I reassured him that Jakes insurance would probably cover this and went to make a call to Allianz only to be told that our hero had let the insurance lapse as the bills had only ever been in the region of 60 to 100 euro before and it had seemed a waste to be paying out for insurance...

Des Groome.

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