How One L.A. Filmmaker Saved His Pet's Life with The Help of Friends and Facebook

How One L.A. Filmmaker Saved His Pet's Life with The Help of Friends and Facebook

Last summer, on the way to a 4th of July BBQ, *Jeff Hoffman noticed something strange about his dog Peanut.

โ€œHe repeatedly laid down flat on the sidewalk, and refused to continue walking,โ€ Jeff said. โ€œI mistook this as his reaction to the fireworks going off around the neighborhood, and reluctantly carried him the remainder of the way.โ€After arriving at the BBQ, Jeff noticed that Peanut was lying in an odd position on a sofa, then changing position, and then changing again. 

โ€œHe looked like he couldn't figure out how to be comfortable,โ€ Jeff said.

A few moments later, Peanut jumped down from the sofa, let out an unnatural high pitched squeal, and bolted to hide under a desk. Fortunately, one of the people attending the BBQ was a veterinarian, and Jeff found her and asked for advice.โ€œShe said that in the best case scenario, he mildly tweaked his back, and proper rest would alleviate the condition with the help of some anti-inflammatory medication she gave us,โ€ Jeff said. โ€œBut if he appeared to be in pain and I noticed him dragging his legs, I should take him to the 24 hour emergency clinic immediately. We decided to go home so that I could monitor his behavior.โ€

That evening was incredibly stressful for Jeff. Peanut couldnโ€™t lie down in his normal position, and he refused to sleep. He sat on his rear end with his head staring straight up at the ceiling. Anytime Jeff tried to help him get more comfortable, Peanutโ€™s breathing increased and he let out little whimpers. Jeff stayed up with him for hours and finally decided to test his legs by standing him upright.

โ€œTo my horror, his attempt to walk was without any control over his rear legs, which dragged numbly behind him,โ€ Jeff said. โ€œAt 4 in the morning, I took him to the ER.โ€

The High Cost Of Emergency Pet Care

The vets at the emergency clinic discovered that Peanut had a pinched/herniated disc, a condition common in long-bodied dogs like dachshunds.

โ€œI was devastated to learn how much Peanut had been suffering,โ€ Jeff said. โ€œHe had paralyzing inflammation in his lower body; I felt terrible for him. Immediate surgery was required to prevent permanent paralysis.โ€

Peanut underwent emergency surgery performed by a neurologist at the clinic. The neurologist removed the inflamed tissue that was pressuring the spinal column, and Peanut remained under veterinary care for two days following the surgery.

The cost? $5,500, not including the pain medications and sleeping pills prescribed to Peanut.

โ€œAt first I wasnโ€™t sure how I was going to be able to pay for it all. I've never had pet insurance,โ€ Jeff said. โ€œThough I was aware of the possibility that Peanut could suffer this injury because heโ€™s a dachshund, I didn't do my research and assumed that it only occurred later in life.โ€

The vet clinic suggested that Jeff sign up for a CareCredit credit card. CareCredit immediately approved a line of credit to cover Jeffโ€™s expenses, and it included a 0% interest rate if paid within 6 months of activation.

โ€œPayment was taxing,โ€ Jeff said. โ€œBut luckily I was able to pay off the debt before interest kicked in, which would have included retroactive interest starting at the date of the original surgery payment.โ€

Paying Off The Credit Card, Creatively

In order to pay off the CareCredit card within 6 months, Jeff knew that he would need some help.

โ€œMy friend group was hugely supportive and they were all actively pushing me to create a fundraiser to help cover Peanutโ€™s expenses,โ€ Jeff said. โ€œAnother friend of mine did a similar campaign using Kickstarter to cover his own dog's surgery, but I felt uncomfortable asking for money.โ€

But then, Jeff found a creative way to pay back the people who wanted to support him.

โ€œSome friends who own a letterpress company offered to donate their time and skill set, so instead of using Kickstarter I created a Facebook page and linked it to a Paypal account. Suggested donations of $10, $15, and $30 were reciprocated with a variety of handmade letterpress coasters and 5x7" card prints featuring drawings of Peanut done by an artist friend of mine.โ€

This clever campaign raised $2400.โ€œRaising that money was a huge relief,โ€ Jeff said. โ€œIt not only helped me pay back the credit card in time, it also lifted my spirits to see how much my friends supported me and Peanut.โ€Peanut had a difficult recovery. He couldnโ€™t walk for the first three weeks, he required a sling to support his midsection, and he wasn't able to properly function his hindquarters.

โ€œIt was tough to watch,โ€ Jeff said.

In all, it took about 6 weeks for Peanut to reach his current mobility, which Jeff says is probably 90-95% of what it was before the injury.

Hindsight Is 20/20

Jeff says that if he could do it all over again, he would sign up for pet insurance from the start.

โ€œI would definitely recommend pet insurance, especially with purebred dogs,โ€ Jeff said. โ€œMost varieties should expect to encounter some health issue throughout their lifetime and it's much easier to deal with the small insurance bills compared to veterinary bills. Peanutโ€™s surgery could have potentially cost upwards of $7500, and some other surgeries are more costly.โ€

Today, Peanut is feeling much better, though he still has trouble balancing from time to time.

โ€œHeโ€™s a trooper,โ€ Jeff said. โ€œHeโ€™s been through a lot, but heโ€™s still got a great attitude. When I see him wobble a little bit, Iโ€™m reminded that this could happen again -- it often does. And now he has a pre-existing condition, which makes it hard to sign him up for insurance. But weโ€™re going to stick together. Iโ€™m going to stick by him.โ€

After hearing Jeff and Peanutโ€™s story, we decided to offer them a complimentary year of


coverage. PetPlus offers deep discounts on pet medications plus savings on vet visits, vaccines, kenneling, and thousands of pet supplies. AND PetPlus covers ALL cats and dogs with no exclusions for pre-existing conditions.

โ€œWow,โ€ Jeff said. โ€œThatโ€™s so generous! Peanut and I canโ€™t thank you enough.โ€

We thank you, Jeff, for sharing your story with us!

---*Upon request the


editors changed Jeff and Peanut's real name for professional reasons. The other details of the story are completely true to real life.

Have a story youโ€™d like to share or know a pet-family deserving of a free trial of PetPlus? Contact the Pet Savvy editors at content [at] petplus {dot} com or leave a note in the comments below. Weโ€™d love to hear from you!
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