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Woman forced to surrender puppy after she was unable to pay $10,000 vet bill

German Shepherd puppy lying on grass
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Note: A recent statement issued by the Maine Veterinary Medical Center and further details on their side of the story can be found here

A woman forced to surrender her puppy after she was unable to come up with the money to pay for the urgent surgery he required, is sharing her heartbreaking story in order to make others aware of just how quickly things can go wrong when you're short of cash.

Rachel Mullen, who lives in Maine, recently adopted a German Shepherd puppy she named Jaxx and it wasn’t long before the mischievous little bundle of fluff required a trip to the vet after he managed to swallow a wooden skewer. And that’s where this tale takes a sad turn.

Taking Jaxx to her usual vet, she was advised he’d be better off at the Maine Medical Veterinary Center, who would be able to provide Jaxx with the advanced care he needed following his mishap. In good faith, Mullen immediately took Jaxx to the center and left him in their capable hands.

"The last thing I did was gave him a hug and a kiss and told him to go get better," she told WGME-TV. Just 24 hours later, a staff member from the Maine Medical Veterinary Center contacted Mullen and told her that she would need to pay $10,000 for Jaxx’s procedure.

Mullen was given mere hours to come up with the money, something that she says was impossible to do in such a short space of time. “You can't come up with $10,000 in six hours unless you have very big pockets. I was given the option to pay or surrender him."

Because Jaxx needed urgent surgery and she couldn’t come up with the money required in the necessary time frame, Mullen was given no choice but to sign him over to the center so that he could receive the treatment he needed.

While she signed the electronic paperwork so the surgery could go ahead, she quickly set up a GoFundMe campaign where she was able to quickly raise the $10,000 she needed to pay for Jaxx’s treatment and get him back. But when she called to tell the Maine Medical Veterinary Center the good news, they informed her that Jaxx had already been given away.

"I called and said, 'I have the money, and I want to try and get my dog back." But Mullen was told that 'he's gone, he's not here'. "My kids cry and ask about him every day." 

The medical center’s corporate owners, Rarebreed Veterinary Partners, had this to say about the incident: "When you surrender a pet, it's a legally binding contract." We doubt that’s any consolation to Mullen and her children, who are without the puppy they intended to provide with a forever home.

For those worried about the price of veterinary care in the advent of an accident or emergency, we'd recommend reading or article: How much does an emergency vet cost? Make sure you're prepared for the cost of care.

Kathryn is a freelance writer who has spent the past two years dividing her writing time between her two great loves - pets and health and wellness. When she’s not busy crafting the perfect sentence for her features, buying guides and news pieces, she can be found hanging out with one very mischievous Cocker Spaniel, drinking copious amounts of Jasmine tea and attempting to set numerous world records for the longest ever FaceTime calls with her family back home in NZ.