PORTLAND, Maine (WGME) – A woman is pleading to get her pup back after she was forced to hand it over due to a medical bill.
Rachel Mullen said her pup, Jaxx, needed emergency surgery to save her life, but the bill was $10,000, an amount she couldn’t afford.
Weeks before the emergency procedure, Mullen said her 4-month-old German Shepherd became curious and ended up with a wooden skewer in her stomach.
Mullen said his veterinarian recommended Maine Veterinary Medical Center, a 24-hour emergency clinic, and Jaxx was admitted.
“The last thing I did was give him a hug and a kiss and tell him to get better,” she said.
The next day, Mullen said the veterinary clinic informed her that the operation had cost more than $10,000.
According to the clinic’s website, half of the payment is due up front, with the rest due upon completion of its services.
“You can’t come up with tens of thousands of dollars unless you have really big pockets in six hours,” Mullen said.
After considering financing options all day, Mullen said she only qualified for a small fraction of the cost.
“I was given the option to pay for it or deliver it,” Mullen said.
She said the clinic told her Jaxx needed urgent surgery, so workers didn’t give her 30 minutes to come in person. So she ceded ownership electronically.
“I signed the paper for them to help him,” Mullen said. “It was still close to $3,000 after that.”
Mullen said she then opened a GoFundMe account to get financial help. With the help of friends, family and the dog’s breeder, she said they received the money that evening.
“I called and said, ‘I have the money and I want to try and get my dog back. He left; he’s not there,” Mullen said.
The Maine resident said she does not currently know Jaxx’s whereabouts or how he is doing.
“My kids cry and ask about him every day,” Mullen said.
A spokesperson for the company that owns the clinic, Rarebreed Veterinary Partners, said when a person gives up a pet, it’s a legally binding contract.
The spokesperson also said the clinic works with shelters and rescues.
Patsy Murphy of the Animal Refuge League of Greater Portland calls the case unusual.
Murphy said the nonprofit receives calls from veterinarians in these situations and often has conversations about the animal’s needs and the owner’s ability to care for the animal.
“It’s a frequent conversation because of the financial impact families are currently experiencing with the high cost of veterinary care,” she said.
Murphy said the nonprofit’s priority is keeping pets and owners together, but she has not been contacted about the situation.
Meanwhile, Mullen said she’s not giving up and has filed a police report and raised her concerns with the state board of veterinary medicine.
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