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North Texas family upset about having to pay for pet wellness plan after dog's death – CBS News

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/ CBS Texas
NORTH TEXAS — A North Texas family grieving the loss of a beloved pet says they still have to pay the remainder of the dog’s health plan, even though he’s no longer here to use the services. 
Now Josh Brubaker wants to warn others to read the fine print of these wellness policies. 
 His dog, 15-year-old Pepperoni, loved treats and snuggles. 
“He was the sweetest dog,” Brubaker said. “He liked burrowing under blankets. He’d curl up under a blanket and want to be next to you.” 
The short-haired dachshund got sick in December and had to be put down. 
On top of the grief, Brubaker and his mom got hit with an unexpected bill. 
“They say we owe $91 on the 5th for his plan,” he said. “Well then I called the next day to talk to someone, and they reiterated, yeah you have a contract, you have to pay.” 
Brubaker renewed Pepperoni’s Optimum Wellness Plan through Banfield Pet Hospital on November 29th. The dog died just over a week later. 
“It’s almost like having to lose him again,” said Brubaker. “Being told, well sorry, we don’t care that you lost your pet. We want your money.” 
Banfield makes it clear on its website that the Optimum Wellness Plan isn’t an insurance policy. It’s a year-long package of preventative pet care at a fixed cost. Clients can either pay for the plan upfront or spread the payments out monthly.   
You can cancel at any time if your pet dies or for another reason, but you have to either pay for the retail value of the services already provided or the remainder of the contract.  
Banfield told CBS News Texas Pepperoni received $1,100 in services and discounts during his last week alive. So Brubaker either has to pay that or the remainder of Pepperoni’s contract, which is just over $1,000. 
After CBS News Texas got involved in his case, the company offered to settle with Brubaker for $200. 
He called the offer an insult. Brubaker says he has receipts that show he already paid for Pepperoni’s final care. 
“If you care about your pets, then when they die, you should quietly close the account, say you’re sorry, and then move on,” he said. “Because going after a family who’s lost a loved one – whether it’s a four-legged one or two-legged – you don’t do that.” 
That’s why Brubaker plans to keep fighting the bills and spreading the word to other pet owners. 
A Banfield spokesperson sent this statement about Brubaker and their Optimum Wellness Plans:  
Our hearts go out to Mr. Brubaker over the loss of Pepperoni. It is always our aim to help families feel supported during this painful process, and we remain committed to continuing to work with Mr. Brubaker to answer questions and address any remaining concerns during this difficult time.  
Banfield’s Optimum Wellness Plans (OWPs) are not insurance, rather they are a set package of routinely recommended preventive veterinary care services available at a fixed cost, including unlimited office visits, vaccines, exams, and dental cleanings. The OWP package of preventive care services is designed to be delivered over the course of a year. Clients can elect to spread the cost of the OWP over a year with monthly payments, or they can choose to pay up front for the entire annual cost of the OWP. Our OWP clients also receive other non-preventive veterinary care at a discount.  
OWP clients can cancel their plan at any time before the end of the plan year; otherwise, the monthly billing that had previously been arranged will continue until the plan’s end. In the event of cancellation, a client making monthly payments is responsible for the lesser of (1) the retail value of the services and discounts already provided to the pet under the plan minus the amount of monthly payments made or (2) any remaining monthly payments due under the term of the plan. In other words, Banfield collects payment for the services already provided through the plan. When questions or concerns arise,  we will work directly with our clients based on their individual situation. 
The Texas Department of Insurance recommends asking the following questions about pet insurance or wellness plans before investing in one: 
Always read the entire contract to see if you’re on the hook for payments even if your pet dies. 
Caroline Vandergriff joined the CBS 11 News team in September 2019. She grew up in Arlington (go Lamar Vikings!), and is thrilled to be back home in North Texas.
First published on January 3, 2024 / 6:01 PM CST
© 2024 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved.
©2024 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved.


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