Phil Villarreal is a Consumerist contributing editor and an Arizona Daily Star reporter. His new book, "Secrets of a Stingy Scoundrel: 100 Dirty Little Money-Grubbing Secrets," is a guide to being an insanely cheap person. He is also on the Twitter, natch, where he teaches you how to get $12 shoes. In this excerpt, he teaches you how to get free pet medical care. Also the book has a chapter on timing your breakup to pay for fewer birthday and Christmas presents.
As costly as it is to pay for your own medical mishaps, it's even more expensive, and less reasonable, to pay when your dog falls deathly ill or is injured. It doesn't make fiscal sense to fix up your puppy because the price of having him put to sleep and then adopting a replacement pooch is almost always miniscule as compared to having him professionally nursed back to health, but you want to do right by your doggie because you love him so darn much.
So that's why you have to follow the old maxim: If you truly love a creature who happens to be mortally wounded, abandon him outside a progressive, no-kill pound or pet rescue facility, then swoop in and adopt him once he's all healed up.
The world is filled with kind, lonely folk who–brutally disappointed in their human interactions–turn to the automatic love of animals as a weak substitute to fill the gaping maw inside their pathetic hearts.
These people are in love with the innocence and helplessness of pets and thus divert all their resources to saving as many as possible. You can either be annoyed with the naivete of these types or accept that it takes all kinds to make a world and abuse the sentiment to your betterment.
You do risk the ownership of your animal if you go this route, because someone else might adopt him before you're able to get him back, but comfort yourself in the knowledge that whoever takes your pup will almost certainly be a kind and caring owner–one who'd never resort to creepy, exploitative shenanigans in order to save a buck when the pet gets sick again. Odds are, however, you and Fido will be back together after he's been taken care of. No-kills and rescue societies are adamantly particular about who they'll let take in their little angels, so make sure your house looks to be in good, pet-caring shape and make sure to hid your backyard bulldog fighting ring.
When abandoning your pet, make sure to wear a disguise as you carry him into the joint, then drop him off without a word, providing any particulars about the injury or condition of the dog with a note attached to his collar–ID tag removed, of course. Wait two weeks and then stroll into the facility with a specific description of what sort of dog you're looking for. You'll make some eighteen-year-old intern's eyes light up when you say you're in the market for a brown lab mix who's at least a few years old. What do you know, out will trot your old friend. He'll be happy to see you since dogs are dumb and don't care when you've risked losing them in their darkest hour, and the folks who run the clinic will be overjoyed to see the way the old boy has taken to you. They'll be convinced they've found a soul mate and that their tireless efforts are responsible. Little will they know they've reduced themselves to pawns at your bidding.
© Phil Villarreal, "Secrets of a Stingy Scoundrel," Skyhorse Publishing, 2009.