Paying it forward: A tragedy turns into a moment of kindness


Courtesy of Aspen Veterinary Hospital
The owners of this cat pleaded for everything to be done to save their cat, which ultimately did not survive. Strangers paid the vet bill when they learned the story.
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For cynics, consumerism and corny songs characterize the holiday season. But, for believers, the holidays mark a season to favor generosity and benevolence.

At Aspen Animal Hospital, a family experienced such a caring moment after heartbreak.

A few weeks ago, a client brought her 2-year-old cat to the vet after weeks of being unwell. They reported that the cat had trouble breathing through its nose and stopped eating as a result. The family tried to get him to eat food, to no avail.



Anne Cooley, senior physician at Aspen Animal Hospital, examined the cat. After her thorough examination, the owners insisted that she do everything she could to save their cat; Cooley decided to perform a rhinoscopy or examine the nose.

She found polyps then removed them and biopsied them. The cat was cancer free and clearly felt better with the polyps. She then decided to bring the cat, who was on a catheter, home to watch over him overnight.



“She was doing pretty well – wagging her tail and moving around. And I had really, really high hopes because she was breathing so well,” she said. “And then, in the morning around 6 a.m., I felt his pulse was a little thready.”

Cooley left to work with the cat as soon as she could, but, sadly, she died along the way. She was devastated and contacted the cat’s owners to pick up their beloved pet. The cat died of multiple organ failure, Cooley said.

As the owners bid farewell to their cat, she was tending to another walk-in emergency for another client. A couple brought in their elderly dog ​​who had pneumonia. Cooley performed the examination and the husband left the room.

“I thought he took a phone call, but he actually snuck past and paid these people’s bill,” Cooley said.

In the waiting room, the couple overheard what had happened to the cat. They wish to remain anonymous and had never even met the couple whose cat died, but Cooley said that’s what they told him about why they paid the bill: “We didn’t want any just not that they have a financial burden and have to deal with the financial aspect after such a big loss.And we didn’t want them to have to worry…And hopefully one day they will will pay to the next.

Cooley said the couple paid around $5,000 in vet bills for the couple who lost their cat.

For many workers in the valley’s service sector, that’s more than a month’s pay.

Cooley said customer generosity is not uncommon at Aspen Animal Hospital. People hear things in the waiting room and want to help. When she moved to the valley 11 years ago, someone gave her a large sum of money to help pay her sick horse’s vet bills.

And that experience, while tragic, reminded her of the love her clients have for their four-legged family members. And the compassion that people can have for complete strangers.

“I think it’s sad that they lost their kitty just before the holidays. I think it’s really sad. But I also think it’s really amazing during the holidays to remember how people are willing to help others,” she said.

The Aspen Animal Hospital holds a charitable fund with the American Veterinary Medical Foundation. To help ease the costs of vet bills without hearing a case in the waiting room, donate here.