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Sunday, December 21, 2014

Tightwads With Coach Bags

One of the things that frustrates us in the veterinary field is the life choices some pet owners make that puts their pets at risk.  I'm talking about the people who have enough money to buy luxuries but won't spend even a little money on their dog or cat.

Recently a client came in with her poodle, worried about her dog's nasal discharge and sneezing.  While the dog was in good spirits, she was running a low-grade fever and had slightly enlarged lymph nodes.  To me it was a very straightforward case....the dog had a sinus infection and needed antibiotics.  Because of the enlarged nodes and fever I wanted to treat for possible bacteria rather than just letting the case run its course.

To me this wasn't a big deal.  I ordered up the medications, which came to $18, and had my tech review the treatment.  The owner looked up at her and asked "Can I use something cheaper, like Benadryl?"

Several things bothered me about this comment.  First, antihistamines aren't going to treat an infection.  Second, $18 for antibiotics is really inexpensive.  And last, the client was carrying a Coach brand handbag.
I actually had to look up the costs of these bags, even though I knew they were expensive luxury items.  Looking on the Coach website when writing this blog, I saw that they start at around $300, and go up from there.  Some list for $1000 or more!  And the lady had one.  Sure, it's possible she got a really good deal or managed to pick one up at a yard sale for a steal.  Maybe it was a gift from someone else who had the money.  But it looks bad when you carry a brand known for its expensive price and then balk at necessary medicines that come out to less than $20.

I don't change recommendations based on a perception of the client's ability to pay.  I offer a treatment plan based on what is best for the pet, and then deal with whether or not the client can afford it.  I don't artificially inflate the price if I see a client driving a Lexus or wearing a Rolex, and I don't artificially discount the price if the come in wearing flip-flops and overalls.  What is the best treatment plan is relatively objective and whether or not a client can pay the costs doesn't change whether or not their pet needs it.

Every day I see people who want to treat their pet but can't afford to.  Many of them are sincere in their desire to help and legitimately can't come up with the funds.  But many others are tightwads are are simply looking for the cheapest way out rather than the best way.  Sure, I like a good bargain as much as the next person, but we shouldn't be dickering about the life of a pet. 

I'm sorry if this sounds harsh, but if you can't afford $20 worth of antibiotics for you pet, then you do not need to have a pet at all.  If you're that hard up for cash, put the Coach bag on eBay, make a couple of hundred dollars, and set that aside for your pet's care.

Yes, I'm ranting a bit, but it frustrates me and many others when we see clients buying costly handbags and carrying their iPhone 5 who complain about things that cost a fraction of their monthly cell phone or cable bill.  If someone is going to have a pet, then they have the responsibility to put that pet before luxuries.  Unfortunately many people have their priorities mixed up.