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Thursday, April 23, 2009

Pet Peeves #5 & 6

I was looking back over my archives, and realized that the last time I talked about some of my pet peeves was way back in November. Well, today I came across a couple more. Both have to do with cheap clients.

Number 5: Clients who come in for exams but already know they can't do anything. This really gets me. A client will come in with a sick or injured pet, yet they have absolutely no money to do any diagnostics or treatment. Today I had someone who brought a small dog that had been completely lame on a hind leg for two weeks after being bit by another dog. There was something wrong with the knee and I needed to take x-rays. They couldn't afford to to that, but also didn't want to get any pain medication. All I ended up doing is telling them that their dog had a problem with his left knee, which they kind of already knew. Last week we had someone who wanted us to do a free exam on their sick pet because they couldn't afford the office visit fee. I refused because I knew that if they couldn't afford the office visit, they certainly couldn't afford any tests or medication. The client became very upset because we refused to see her pet. No, we would be happy to see the pet, just not for free. I can understand not having money to do extensive tests or treatment. But if you know going into the appointment that you don't have any money beyond the office visit, what is the point? It's very uncommon for us to see a pet and not need to do anything at all. Usually we need to do at least some testing and treatment. What do these people expect of us? I usually forget to bring my crystal ball and magic wand to work, so I'm not much help in these cases. I really wish people would realize that the exam is simply the beginning, and there almost always will be more.

Number 6: People who refuse services when you know darn well they can afford it. Today we saw a client who refused to do more than a rabies vaccine on her pet. She didn't want heartworm testing or prevention, or a distemper-parvo vaccine. She complained about it being too much money. Yet my tech had seen her pull up in a 2009 BMW that still had a temporary tag. Lady, if you can afford a brand new Beamer, you can certainly afford to take care of you pet! I know some people can't afford to do much (which is another pet peeve that I've already talked about). But don't come in with expensive cars, clothing, and jewelry and tell me that you don't have the money to do the simple things.


  1. Chris. She couldn't afford to care for her pet because she just bought a bunch of expensive crap for herself. What don't you get about that?

  2. Hey! My name's Tanya and I've been following your blog for a couple months.
    I work as a veterinary technician, and I have to say, we see a lot of #5, and I feel your frustration.
    From my experience, some of those people know that vets got into their line of work because they care a lot about animals, and they're hoping that you'll feel moved by their plight and not charge them.
    My personal pet peeve is that so many people don't recognize that it costs the vet significant amounts of money to run blood tests, take x-rays, do treatments, etc. Doing tests and treatments for free doesn't cut into the vet's personal profit, it takes away from the money that we have to buy more equipment and supplies and to pay everyone.

  3. Excellent way of putting it, Tanya. I completely agree. Keep reading!

  4. We get both of those. I never really understand #5. I mean really, what's the point of wasting everyones time. It's not like those are the people just coming in for a wellness exam on a young dog that really doesn't need anything. I usually try to dig something out of the donated/returned meds box that I can give them. #6 is the one that really irritates me. That and people that get some little dog like a yorkie-that needs a lot of dental care even though they know full well they can't afford it and just thinks it's ok to let the teeth rot out just because they like having a dog.

  5. In the case of the people who paid for the exam but couldn't afford the tests, don't forget that pet owners really have no clue about how much things are going to cost until we come in with the pet -- even those of us who have been decades-long pet owners. Remember that for people with health insurance, most never even see the charges, only make co-payments, so they aren't even aware of the true cost of their own healthcare.

    I'm a reasonable affluent veterinary client (although my car is a Beetle) and I do not fall into the category of the people you described in your pet peeves. However, despite having multiple pets (who get excellent veterinary care because we don't scrimp on it) for many, many years, I am ALWAYS shocked at the sticker price for a visit, and frequently find that some Veterinary procedures are more expensive than some comparable human procedures, which I chalk up to the lack of managed care and market pressures on prices.

    Anyway, don't think too badly of people who balk at the cost. In many cases it may be because they had no idea what to expect.

    If you want to educate your clients, post your fees in the waiting room; post them on your blog, send them out via email.

  6. Fairly reasonable thoughts, anonymous. However, part of my point was that it's common sense to think that a visit is going to cost SOMETHING. I truly believe that people who think we can fix a problem simply by us looking at it really don't have much common sense. They may not know all of the costs, but they should expect something more than simply an office visit.

    I would also be very curious as to which procedures you've seen are more expensive than comparable ones in human medicine. There may be a difference in what you yourself pay, but what you pay in human medicine isn't the real cost. For example, you might pay $20 for a doctor's visit copay, but the actual cost of the visit is likely closer to $80-100. The insurance company pays the rest. Compared to that a $30-40 veterinary visit is very reasonable. Please let me know which veterinary services you think have ended up being more expensive than the same procedure in humans. I've actually never seen that happen.

  7. I don't know about anyone else but after reading the comment from anon I thought I would add that we actually have people call, get a quote for the exam and are specifically told that diagnostics and meds will be additional, and still come in with just the money for the exam. I just don't get it.

  8. This post really hits home for me. I started shadowing a vet in my early teens because I thought it would be good experience for what I always wanted to do with my life.. help animals and be a vet.

    After one dog was sent home after a bite (and shot instead of cared for, or even turned over to a rescue) and then seeing another animal hit by a car and the person leaving them there to die, I decided I like animals to much to be a vet. My hat is off to you Dr Bern.

    I'm currently a PhD student, but still volunteer at a local animal rescue when I can (since Sirius was a rescue, I think this is important). It sickens me some of the neglect people inflict on living creatures they promised to take care of.

    My biggest rant right now: getting a large breed puppy and then complaining about it when it grows. Recent example:

    THEM: "I wanted a dog that was around 40 lb when it was an adult."

    ME: "Then why did you get a German Shepherd, they tend to be upwards of 80 lb."

    THEM: "He was so little as a puppy!."

  9. I'm right with ya, Sirius. It seems that most people want to be a vet at one point, until they realize what it's really like. It's not an easy job to do, and it really wears on you mentally.

    I also agree about researching puppies better. So many people only get them because of how they look as puppies, without doing any research on what their adult behavior, health care, and size will be like.

  10. My puppy is 7 weeks old. And he's in paining in limbs coz of worms. Worms was present in between middle limbs finger when I removed worm its bleeding.. nd yesterday when I reached hospital the doctor gave 2 injections in legs one for pain nd second one for antibiotic nd now he's not walk properly


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