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Family needs a helping hand to cover vet bills

Rachel Lewish and her family desperately need money to cover emergency vet bills.
Rachel Lewish and her family desperately need money to cover emergency vet bills. Lewis family.

Things don't always work out like we plan. Rachel Lewis and her family had two pets, a child and were lucky enough to have jobs, but medical disasters have brought them to the brink of financial ruin. Last month, her husband, Duff, had just started a job. Then their beloved pets, their cat Pikachu and their dog Kaylee, became ill.

The Lewis' finances had already been strained. Married since 2003 and with one son, Rachel Lewis is recovering from two medical procedures on her right arm and hand done in early May so she can't currently work. She writes that she was once a retail story manager but was had a workers compensation injury. She's had a scancolectomy of the bracial plexus. Two years before that, she had her ulnar bone shortened and had a titanium plate removed.

Insurance only covers so much and when you stop working that's more money lost.

While Rachel was still recovering, their 8-year-old blue merle collie, Kaylee, became ill and was rushed to the vet on 14 May 2014. She was diagnosed with a bladder infection by someone who was not her regular vet and given amoxicillin, tramadol and ketoconazole. The infection cleared up, but Kaylee was still vomiting bile, not eating, excessively thirsity and limping. Still unable to speak with her regular vet, Rachel was advised to give her pet rimadyl, even though Rachel pointed out to this vet that Kaylee had had a negative reaction to the drug during her spay. The vet assured Rachel that things would be fine. They were not.

Despite this, Kaylee was collie tender and loving with her favorite furry companion, Pikachu, cuddling her and cleaning her. Little did Rachel and Duff know that while Kaylee was sick, Pikachu was even sicker.

There are some things you can plan for, but you don't want to such as the death of an elderly pet. Pikachu was 15 years old and only born with one kidney, Rachel Lewis writes in an email. That mean Pikachu's diet had to be carefully monitored. Old pets take a bit of your heart and when Pikachu went into the vet on a Friday, 30 May 2014, she was put on an IV and made comfortable for the weekend while waiting to see what their regular vet, Dr. Steed had to say. That bill was $570. By Monday, when their regular vet returned to work, he was brutally honest: All the money in the world wouldn't save Pikachu, but only prolong her pain. Her single kidney was not functioning well; the tests showed high values.

It was, the Lewis' knew, time to let go. Yet while putting Pikachu down, they still wondered if they were going to do the same for Kaylee. At one point, it was a choice between an ultrasound and exploratory surgery. The Lewis' elected to visit another vet for the ultrasound because the emergency facility could take in Kaylee immediately. The Lewis' had the results sent to their regular vet, Dr. Jeffery Steed. This ruled out cancer.

According to Rachel the diagnosis was liver problems due to medication. Officially, the practice manager, Denise Warner wrote to me that the diagnosis was "treatable, potentially curable hepatitis."

The cure will run the Lewis' another $200-300. That's a total of almost $2,000.
The Lewis' have spent their rent and then some for their beloved pets. Rachel Lewis has been able to raise $200 via a Facebook Paypal campaign (to racheleverhartlewis@comcast.net). You can also make payments directly to the vet:

For Rachel Lewis
Account number 19373
Manheim Pike Veterinary Hospital
1669 Manheim Pike
Lancaster, PA 17601
Phone ( 717) 569-6424 or Fax (717) 569-7745

Here's the timeline:

14 May 2014: Kaylee requires x-rays and medication ($249.54)

23 May 2014: Kaylee gets more medication ($43.81)

30 May 2014: Pikachoo is hospitalized and tests are done ($568.77)

2 June 2014: Pikachoo is euthanized ($200.80)

3 June 2014: Kaylee requires more bloodwork ($124.64)

4 June 2014: Kaylee requires medication ($97.88)

6 June 2014: Ultrasound ($360.00)*

Future care: An additional $200-$300.

TOTAL: $1945.44

All costs were confirmed by the office manager Denise Warner at the Manheim Pike Veterinary Hospital except for the ultrasound which was done at another facility.