Kirk Boxleitner/Staff Photo

Animal lives matter to Tulalip nonprofit that helps pay vet bills

MARYSVILLE – If you're a dog or cat lover, it can break your heart to have to put your animal down because of a needed, costly medical procedure.

  • Tuesday, August 9, 2016 4:30am
  • News

MARYSVILLE – If you’re a dog or cat lover, it can break your heart to have to put your animal down because of a needed, costly medical procedure.

Karen Brothers knows that all too well.

Brothers, who has eight cats, had one a few years ago named Dora, nicknamed, “The Explorer.”

“She was into everything,” Brothers said.

Dora swallowed a piece of rubber from the base of a fan and had to be taken to emergency veterinarian. Her bill was $1,900.

“I could cover the amount needed, but not everybody could,” she said.

It was then she decided to start a nonprofit organization called Four Paws Lifeline. It raises money through donations to help people who can’t afford necessary treatment for their pets.

Brothers used to work at a vet lab. She said it saddened her to see the number of times people would not have needed blood work done.

“They couldn’t afford it,” she said. So the pet would not get “additional testing that would have been helpful to isolate a cause” for an illness, she added.

“It happened all the time. They would cancel a test because they couldn’t afford it, and put the animal down,” she said. “Cost should not be a factor” in keeping an animal alive, she said.

Brothers said as a volunteer at Perfect Pals no-kill animal shelter she saw owners surrender animals because they can’t afford medical care. She said it’s especially tough for people with low incomes or fixed incomes like seniors.

“They don’t love their pets any less,” than those who can afford medical care for pets, she said. “A vet trip is devastating to them.”

Brothers said it took awhile to get the nonprofit up and running because she had no idea what to do. But there is now a website where supporters can go to donate. They also take part in local pet events, such as Marysville’s Poochapalooza, to try to get donations and tell their story.

“Our primary concern is the welfare of the animals,” she said.

There is an application to fill out, and vets are paid directly for up to $350. In its first year, the nonprofit has helped five pets: cats Kayleigh, Bird and Luna, and dogs Kodiak and Tripp. Their ailments included everything from a broken tooth or knee surgery and an amputation. Next on the list to help is a rabbit in Alaska.

“We do not discriminate,” Brothers said, adding the first pet they helped was from Ohio.

Four Paws Lifeline will only help pets whose prognosis is for continued quality of life.

“We’re not going to prolong the animal,” she said. “But we can help put an animal at peace.”

Brothers added that in itself can cost hundreds of dollars people may not have.

Along with donations, the group sells items to bring money. There are pet collar charms for $5 each, handmade gemstone zipper pulls and proceeds from the book, “Four Paws and 31 Tales,” which tells stories from the animals’ perspectives.

Happy client

Christine Sissel’s 6-month-old kitty Luna was helped by Four Paws Lifeline in December.

She was pooping blood, so Sissel took her to a vet in Tumwater. While she was waiting she read an article about Four Paws Lifeline in Pet Connection magazine. She emailed Brothers and got a response three minutes later. They talked and Sissel provided Luna’s diagnosis, prognosis and treatment plan. The nonprofit provided more than $300 toward the bill.

Even so, Sissel still had to take back Christmas gifts for her children, ages 23 and 18, to pay the vet bills, but they understood.

“Do what you have to do for Luna,” she said they told her. “I’d do anything for my kitty. Pets are like children to me.”

Sissel said Brothers showed so much compassion because she’d been through the same thing. “She knew my pain.”

Sissel said she has a medical background so she was able to save some costs by taking IV bags home and giving the cat shots by herself.

“There was so much testing,” she said. “Something was lodged in her stomach.”

Sissel said she has tried to give back to Four Paws Lifeline with some donations, but she wishes she could do more. She has spread the word about the nonprofit, but has found people reluctant because donors are always worried how much goes to administration.

Sissell does tell friends that if they are in a dire emergency, even if Brothers can’t help, she will direct people to other available resources.

Sissell said Brothers is a lifesaver.

“I could not let her go,” Sissell said of Luna.

More in News

Inslee: Stay home for 2 weeks

By Jerry Cornfield and Zachariah Bryan The Herald OLYMPIA — Gov. Jay… Continue reading

Fences have been put up around Marysville playgrounds to keep kids off. (Steve Powell/Staff Photos)
Marysville leaders concerned as (almost) everything’s closing

By Steve Powell spowell@marysvilleglobe.com MARYSVILLE – Within hours of Gov. Jay Inslee’s… Continue reading

Briefly

Beware of coronavirus scams SEATTLE – U.S. Attorney Brian T. Moran is… Continue reading

Jennifer Thompson, left, and her father Ron Thompson secure a new remembrance plaque to the Oso slide site gate on Sunday, near Oso. Ron Thompson handcrafts a new plaque for the gate every year. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Community remembers Oso slide victims, survivors

By Ben Watanabe The Herald OSO — The power of remembering the… Continue reading

People gather to pick up special allergy meals before leaving Lakewood High School on Wednesday in Marysville. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Districts taking meals to students since schools are closed

By Stephanie Davey The Herald LAKEWOOD — Children wearing pajamas stood outside… Continue reading

Jon Nehring
Letter about coronavirus from Marysville Mayor Jon Nehring

This is an edited version of a letter Marysville Mayor Jon Nehring… Continue reading

DOUGLAS BUell/Staff Photos
                                Lead cook Keina Gowins with Presidents Elementary hands out free grab-and-go breakfasts and lunches to students and parents outside the school Wednesday. Presidents and AHS serve as central kitchen sites for preparing meals, which starting next week will expand to 12 delivery sites from Silvana to Oso. Right, Arlington Food Bank executive director Carla Gastineau and Mike Simpson, food bank board president and owner of Arlington Grocery Outlet, partnered with the district with their Meals Til Monday program, and gave a woman a box of donated food while at Presidents.
Arlington students won’t go hungry during the COVID-19 school closures

ARLINGTON – Arlington schools are closed through April 24 to help fight… Continue reading

Scott Beebe hands out Chromebooks to people in their cars. (Steve Powell/Staff Photos)
Marysville parents anxious to pick up school materials for kids

By Steve Powell spowell@marysvilleglobe.com MARYSVILLE – A few days ago Marysville schools… Continue reading

Jon Nehring
Marysville leaders’ trip to D.C. productive

MARYSVILLE – City leaders recently obtained advice on how to get more… Continue reading

Crews will blow garbage into the street and sweep it up over the next few weeks. The city is asking people to move their cars, trash cans and recycle bins when they come around to help them do a thorough job. (Courtesy Photo)
Marysville shuffles workers due to virus, seeks public’s help for sweepers next week

By Steve Powell spowell@marysvilleglobe. MARYSVILLE – From working from home to teleconferencing… Continue reading

Arlington closed until April 24 amid COVID-19 outbreak: what’s next?

ARLINGTON – When Arlington public school leaders met for a special meeting… Continue reading