Frugal, Health, Personal Finance, Saving Money

Prevention and Honesty Are Always Less Expensive

vet shots

This summer in our area has been a terrible one for rabies. At least three dogs have had to be put down because their owners didn’t get them a rabies shot and the dogs later came into contact with rabid wildlife. While I won’t argue about what constitutes responsible pet ownership, I will argue about the financial irresponsibility of the decision not to get a pet vaccinated. One of the pet owners is currently in very deep financial trouble. Here are the problems he’s facing:

  • He had to put the dog down. While it’s sad, it’s also costly. He had to pay the vet for the procedure.
  • He and his family must now undergo rabies shots. That’s two weeks of daily shots. Even with insurance, there are still copays and deductibles. Not to mention discomfort.
  • He’s being sued by his neighbors. Since anyone who came in contact with the dog (human or animal) must also undergo preventative rabies shots or get boosters, his neighbors are suing him for their own treatments and that of their pets. (Apparently the dog was very friendly and roamed the neighborhood, playing with kids and other pets.)
  • He has to pay the fine. Since a rabies vaccination is state law here, he has to pay the fine for non-compliance.
  • He owes back taxes. Because he lives in a county that requires a pet ownership tax, the county is coming after him for the money that he never paid, plus interest and penalties. (More on this below.)

All of this over a shot that’s about $25 at the vet for a three year vaccine. (And you can get them for as little as $5 at clinics.) When asked why he didn’t have it done, he said it was because the information would have been reported to the state which would have triggered his county to levy the “pet ownership” tax on him. He thought he was being smart and dodging a tax.

In our county that tax is only $20 per year. Let’s just say the dog had lived twelve years. That would have only been four rabies shots, or $100. And twelve years in taxes would have been $240. So a grand total of $340 over the dog’s lifetime compared to the thousands he’s now facing in treatments, back taxes, and lawsuits. Not to mention the death of his dog. Doesn’t look so smart now, does it?

This is just one example of what happens when people try to skimp on prevention and/do something dishonest. They think they’re saving money by not going and getting that physical, skipping their own immunizations, not fixing that tiny drip in the faucet, dodging the tax man, not taking down that dead tree that’s hanging over the neighbors house, or ignoring their oil changes. They think it’s smart to cut corners and save money. In most cases, though, it’s really dumb to skimp on prevention. Sure, you may get away with something for a while. But when the poop hits the fan (and it probably will) you’ll be faced with costs that make the preventative cost seem like buying a gum ball out of a machine.

When the car dies from lack of maintenance, that’s thousands of dollars in repair or replacement. When the faucet drip becomes a flood, that’s thousands of dollars in flood damage. When that dead tree falls on your neighbors’ kid or house, you’re going to face a huge lawsuit. When you’ve skipped enough physicals and discover that you have a disease that will now cost hundreds of thousands to treat, you’ll wish you’d paid the $30 copay and just gone to the doctor. When you don’t report things to the county or state that you’re supposed to and they find out, they will come after you for everything you owe plus penalties and interest. Trying to be dishonest or dodge things you need to do just leads to more trouble than it’s worth.

If you want to save yourself a lot of money (and headaches), just do what you’re supposed to do. Take care of preventative tasks when they first arise. Deal with the maintenance of your body and property. Don’t think you’re being smart or “sticking it to the man” if you try to dodge your taxes. Just pay up, be honest and deal with it. It’ll be far cheaper in the long run.

(Photo courtesy of Tobyotter)

3 thoughts on “Prevention and Honesty Are Always Less Expensive

  1. Crikey! Very sad and irresponsible. Too many pet owners like him around.

    Also speaks to the concept of “not biting off more than you can chew”. Don’t acquire something for which you aren’t willing, or can’t afford, to pay for the short and long term costs: that old car someone wants to “gift” you, that great fixer-upper house, and *especially* a living creature, a pet. Simply not right.

    Well said.

  2. I have a dog and believe me, that is so true the vaccinations are a MUST. ESPECIALLY RABIES! Here in Maine you never know what may show up in your backyard and you may think your dog will never come in contact with any infected animal, well, think again. Sure it’s a bit of a pain to take your pet to the vet or to a clinic but as this guy found out it’s a lot more of a pain to deal with the consequences if something happens. Like Jay says if you don’t want to bear the costs don’t get the dog. No one is making you get a pet, so don’t get one if you can’t or won’t deal with the costs.

  3. From the title, I wanted more about honesty as a money-saving tactic; however, the article’s author used the concept as a very periphery one, and only based on this one person’s uncommon situation. Prevention is a no-brainer as far as saving money in the long-run, so this part was appropriate. Going on to repeatedly tie dishonesty to prevention was not appropriate and really wasted my time…. Please change the title.

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