02/06/2013 04:30 pm ET Updated Apr 06, 2013

Are Healthy Pets for the Rich Only? We Can Do Better Than This!

I haven't sat down to do research on this subject so some of this is not yet based in hard numbers and facts. But I'm going to put it out there anyhow. With an aging and beloved Dalmatian dog (14+ years) and someone who is decidely not-rich, I am appalled at the dearth of affordable animal healthcare options for pet guardians today. Truly appalled.

If you have a pet and live in a metropolitan area you know what I'm talking about: $300+ for teeth cleaning, $145 shots, $90+/month special food, $140+ a pop for blood tests, and if you try an holistic vet, you'll be paying near $300/hour! I ask you: who can afford this? Answer: The Rich.

So now healthy pets are for the wealthy only here in the great USA? Surely, we can do better than this.

I'm a reporter who also volunteers in dog rescue and for several weeks I stood at the front intake desks at Los Angeles city shelters to hear the reasons why the endless flood of dumped dogs and cats were pouring in. There were basically two: "no time," and "can't afford it." Kids cried and screamed and pleaded to take their pet home, but the dog or cat was taken terrified and shaking to the back, held for a handful of days, then most likely killed in that cold concrete jungle. That is if the once-loved pet was not one of the very lucky few pulled out by an over-burdened animal rescue who then must raise tens of thousands of dollars to board and vet all their charges until they find them homes. I can't even being to count the number of $2,000 vet bill pleas to which I've chiped in money to help save an animal from certain death at a local shelter.

Everyone in the animal rescue community focuses on spay/neuter to stop the over-flow and over-population of unwanted animals at shelters and to help reduce the rate of euthanaisa. Of course, this is important. Yet I don't hear a yelp or howl over the extra-ordinary amounts of monies pouring into vet clinics and hospitals and animal health care manufactuers and pet health insurance companies and their executives making it near impossible for anyone without wealth to afford caring well for their pet.

Why not?

It seems to me veterinary medicine is following the lead of the unholy mess that is human healthcare in the United States: a cash cow focused for the wealthy only. It would be interesting to see if the huge spike in vet health care costs coincides with the introduction of Pet Insurance a few decades ago. My guess is that it is right there in the graphs and numbers.

In the meantime, what are animal-loving, pet owners to do?

I have no issue with $800 Gucci dog beds that cost the manufactuer $30 or massively over priced be-jeweled dog collars or anything else people want to spend their hard-earned money on. I do, however, have a big problem with big-priced healthcare for both humans and animals because it brokers in lives and is not optional.

To believe that someone who makes $20 an hour deserves a less-healthy pet than someone who makes $100,000+ a year is sick, sicker than the state of vet care I've seen in the past months.

Vets and Animal Hospitals and the animal medical community will come back with XYZ costing so much, expenses, expenses, don't blame me! Again, just as with human health care in the United States, I believe the once good and affordable-for-all health care system for companion animals has been hijacked by those interested in money to then cater to the rich only (and in case of humans the goverment's cash cow medicare.) - i.e. It's a system now fed by the wealth of a few to the detriment of the health of all.

Surely, we can do better than this for our companion animals.