Can’t Afford Your Pet’s Vet Bill? Crowdfund it with Waggle

Published on February 8, 2020

Many pet owners know this awful moment: You’re sitting in the animal hospital and you’re hit with devastating news, your beloved pooch or kitty has a dreadful illness. 

To top off your shock and worry, you’re hit with the bill for their treatment. Your head hurts. Your heart hurts. Your wallet hurts. And you’re completely panicked on how you’re going to pay. 

When this happened to Darka, and her husband Miri, from Portland, they crowdsourced their pooch’s tab.

Lulu, Darka and Miri’s adorable pooch

Shortly after the couple adopted Lulu, they found out she suffered from horrible dental disease. Some of the beautiful poodle mix’s teeth were loose and their vet said the dangerous condition was getting worse by the day. Lulu needed about $1,500 worth of surgery, a bill Darka and Miri could not afford.

So they used Waggle. The site helps create crowdfunding campaigns to help owners pay for their pets’ medical bills. 

“My husband, Miri and I are self-employed,” Darka said in a video on Waggle’s website. “Unfortunately, being self-employed is a little bit of a feast or famine situation sometimes. So at the time the vet said it’s time to take care of this dental disease, we needed help.”

Before the couple could create a campaign for Lulu, they had to prove their dog’s medical needs were legit; Waggle requires pet owners to send in multiple pictures of their pets, their animal hospital’s contact information, and the actual estimate for their care.

Any money is raised is paid straight to the veterinarian’s office or animal hospital. That helps eliminate doubts about fake fundraising campaigns you’ve seen make news headlines.

The company’s founder and CEO, Steven Mornelli, calls it an innovative solution for saving beloved pets. “Waggle is a trustworthy means to help families who have lost hope. We provide a trusted solution,” he said. 

Ending Economic Euthanasia

Mornelli’s goal is to end “economic euthanasia.” When pet owners, shelters, or rescue groups can’t afford an animals’ care sometimes, they end up having to put the pet to sleep. Waggle estimates about a half-million animals are euthanized each year because of financial constraints.

“Heartbreaking economic euthanasia is simply unacceptable for both the pet guardian and the pet in need,” Mornelli said. Economic euthanasia not only is emotionally brutal for the pet owner’s family it can have a huge downer of a domino effect. The animal’s veterinarian and staff are also impacted, and right now suicide among vets is now at an all-time high.

Sometimes owners who can’t afford their pets’ medical bills drop them off at an animal shelter. The lucky ones are adopted or saved by rescue groups who then fundraise for the pet’s care. The unlucky ones, confused why their family left them, might be euthanized by the shelter.

Pets in Need

Pet owners can raise up to $5,000 to help pay for their pet’s vet bill through Waggle’s site. The campaigns depend on pet owners sharing the links and letting people know about the hardship they’re facing.

Waggle is now partnering with other nonprofit organizations, some will match the donations pets receive, others offer grants.

Lulu’s campaign initially raised more than half of the cash she needed for surgery. Then luckily for Lulu two organizations, GreaterGood and FreeKibble, shared her plight on their sites and more generous donors helped raise the rest. “We are blown away by this, you can imagine,” Darka said. 


Scrolling through the stories of pets in need on the Waggle website you see gut-wrenching stories of owners who lost their job and then find out their dog needs emergency surgery. They don’t know how they’ll juggle paying their mortgage and for their dog’s care. 

These are families who love their pets but hit hard times. Got a few extra bucks and feeling generous? Head over to Waggle and help out a dog or cat owner down on their luck who is trying to do the right thing to care for their four-legged friend. 

You can also follow Waggle on Facebook.

Looking for more news from Watchdog Mary on Grit Daily? Check out her full column, here.


"Watchdog" Mary Schwager is a Columnist at Grit Daily. She is a television and print journalist watch-dogging for consumers and animals. She is honored to have won 16 Emmy awards, seven Edward R. Murrow awards, and Associated Press awards for investigative reporting and writing.

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