A Waikato man is outraged he had to front up about $2000 before urgent treatment was given to his pregnant pig dog at an after hours vet centre but the director defended the position saying there were finance options available.
Mike Cornelius, 26, could not believe he had to pay up front and the shock drove him to take the story public on Facebook where his radio interview about what happened has been seen more than 28,000 times.
"My phone literally hasn't stopped," Cornelius said.
But Waikato After Hours Veterinary Hospital director Dr Keith Houston said it was policy that everybody was asked to front up with a deposit at the lower end of the estimated bill.
"That's fair ... everybody pays that," Houston said.
Cornelius, a faultsman, said that about a month ago his dog, Bess, showed the first signs of labour just before he was about to go to a work callout.
"I had been watching her closely. I thought when I got back I'd expect to see pups there."
On his return, about 3am, there were no pups and instead a bad smell was coming from the dog, he said.
Cornelius said he rushed to the after hours centre where it was confirmed there were no live pups but he was left baulking at the price tag to help his dog which he was told could be about $2500.
"I started pleading ... I can't come up with that amount of money at this time."
Cornelius said he had the money but could not access it at 4am when his bank was not open.
It was lucky he could get his mum on the phone over in Australia, as she "didn't hesitate" to use her credit card to pay $2000 and the dog was treated and spayed.
"It's not about the money," Cornelius said.
It was about Waikato people turning up at odd hours and not being able to pay, he said.
"We need to come up with a better solution. I think it is a big problem in this country."
It was simply not the fault of the animal, he said.
Cornelius said he remained grateful the clinic had saved his dog.
Houston said the Waikato After Hours Veterinary Hospital offered a number of options to help people who could not pay on the spot, including Pet Funders and Finance Now, which allowed people to pay in installments.
"We do have all the finance options available."
But if those groups were not willing to loan to people then there was no reason the after hours centre should foot the bill, he said.
"I would feel really guilty putting a large debt on someone who can't afford it."
Some people, through no fault on their own, did have to make "some very, very sad decisions sometimes and I really feel for them".
Houston maintains Cornelius was treated fairly and the centre saved a "very sick dog".
Cornelius claims he was not offered one of the payment options mentioned by Houston.
An SPCA spokesperson said the SPCA had looked into the situation and would not be pursuing any animal welfare offences and it was a private matter between the dog owner and the vet clinic.