Emergency surgery. Knee reconstruction. Addison’s disease. Hospital bills for any of these are high, whether the patient has two legs or four. Summit County residents love their pets, but they never know when they might be suddenly and unexpectedly faced with a large veterinary bill.
That’s where the League for Animals and People of the Summit comes in.
LAPS is a local 501(c)3 nonprofit that supports locals and their pets. One of its main missions is a spay/neuter program at the Summit County Animal Shelter, which includes offering voucher coupons to local veterinarian offices for the procedure. LAPS also provides a medical assistance fund, that helps defray the costs of expensive vet bills.
Summit County local Morgan Dayton and her boyfriend adopted Paul the cat last year from the Summit County Animal Shelter. This May, they noticed he was in a lot of pain and brought him to the Frisco Animal Hospital. He went home with a $360 bill, which was paid, but then had to go back the very next day for an emergency surgery to remove blockage in his urinary tract. He stayed three more days in the veterinarian’s care. The bill was nearly $1,000, a hefty charge at any time, but particularly during spring downtime in the county. So Dayton contacted LAPS.
“It was just going to be … really a financial issue for us both in mud season, because we both work in the service industry so it’s really dead all spring and all fall, and summer and winter, you know, you just have to work like crazy and save your money,” Dayton said. “He would have died if we didn’t get him that surgery and get him overnight at the vet.”
LAPS defrayed about $500 of the cost, she said, which made a big difference.
“It helped out so much. I was freaking out, we were both freaking out. We didn’t want to put him down, we love him.”
Now, Dayton is happy to report, Paul is back in good health.
“I’m super grateful,” she said.
The unexpected is something that Breckenridge resident Sherri Calderini had to deal with when her dog, a four-year-old Samoyed named Stormy, suddenly fell ill. After extensive blood tests, he was diagnosed with Addison’s disease, a chronic condition that also affects humans, and has to do with a deficiency of the adrenal gland.
“Just to diagnose it was extremely costly,” Calderini said — not to mention the news that Stormy would have to rely on pills and a $125 shot each month for the rest of his life.
After contacting LAPS, the Calderinis received $750, the lifetime maximum awarded to a single pet. Calderini likens it to “manna from heaven.”
“They were wonderful,” she said. “That is why we are so lucky to have LAPS in the county.”
Now that he’s set up with his medicines, Stormy is doing fine and acting just like his old self.
“You would never know there’s anything wrong with him,” Calderini said. “I’m happy to tell the story and thank LAPS for coming through for us at a really tough time.”
Six-year-old Zuley has never been able to walk very well. Born with a genetic defect in two knees, the shepherd-husky mix had become nearly immobile. Her owner, Frisco resident Meredith Metz, took her to the veterinarian and learned that a surgical procedure could potentially fix Zuley’s problem.
“It was finally something I could take care of,” she said, though it came at a high financial cost.
Reeling from the estimate at the vet’s office, Metz contacted LAPS and shortly after received approval for assistance. Zuley received surgery on one knee and her activity has since greatly improved.
“She is more playful. She actually goes and swims and stuff. It’s a big change, she was pretty immobile,” Metz said. “I’m just really grateful for what they (LAPS) stand for and what they do. I’m not sure if it would have been as feasible for me to get my dog surgery if I didn’t get assistance. I’m grateful and so is she. She gets to be a dog again.”
THE CANINE 4K
LAPS hosts a number of annual fundraisers, of which the Canine 4K, in its 24th year, is one of the longest running.
In addition to a 4K run/walk in which participants are encouraged to bring their dogs, the event includes a silent auction and at least 14 vendors peddling all kinds of pet-related wares. Farmer’s Korner Veterinary Hospital, for example, will offer free samples of a laser treatment that helps dogs with arthritis, said Sally Beerup, LAPS president.
LAPS is still seeking volunteers for the event, which will be held at the Frisco Historic Park, Beerup said. The group needs course marshals to point the way, dog handlers to hold leashes during registration, help with the silent auction and more. Those interested in volunteering should contact Beerup by email at Laps@colorado.net.
Prizes will be awarded, with free coffee from Abbey’s available.
“It ought to be a good day,” said Beerup.