Stray and wild animals often end up injured due to cars, attacks by other animals, and problems with illnesses and infections. Many passersby end up playing good Samaritan and taking those animals to the nearest veterinary hospital. That's good for the animal but not so good for whoever ends up with the bill -- and if you've brought in an animal for treatment, you could end up paying quite a lot of money. So how do you help an injured stray or wild animal without busting your budget?
Call a Wildlife Rescue First
If you've found a wild animal that is not a cat or dog, like an opossum, calling a wildlife rescue outfit first is the safest thing to do -- and it's likely to save your money as well. The rescue team can determine if the animal can be saved and can safely transport the animal to the vet the organization usually works with. While some wild animals may know that humans are trying to help, many don't, and injury risks to humans are high.
Ask About the Clinic's Own Policy
However, if you've found a stray cat or dog that appears to be docile enough for you to put in a box and drive to a vet, call the vet hospital or clinic first, for two reasons. One is to check on their policy about who pays for the treatment, and second to find out if there are local organizations that will help with the cost. You want to ask about these before bringing the animal in because these organizations sometimes want to pre-approve the visit and won't approve payment if the animal is already at the vet's clinic when you call.
Never Assume You Know Who the Owner Is
Never, ever assume you know who the owner of the cat or dog is. It is very easy to mistake that injured tabby for your neighbor's cat when in fact it could just be a similar-looking cat. If you assume it belongs to someone you know and tell that to the vet, then the vet may pursue the totally innocent neighbor for costs -- and you could end up in court with the neighbor demanding you pay.
Veterinarians realize that not everyone who brings in an injured stray can pay huge vet bills. Some vets perform lower-cost procedures for free in this case, while others split the bill. Let the vet know up front that you can't really pay a huge vet bill (this is assuming that you truly can't afford it; if you can, you might want to be nice and simply pay), and you and the vet can discuss potential arrangements.
Vets do want to help injured strays and reunite lost pets -- but they also need to cover their basic costs. See what you can work out with the vet so that the animal gets the care it needs. Visit a site like http://www.emergencypetclinics.com for more help.