Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Yet again, bad choices.

I reiterate to my clients over and over again (both in person and via my blog) that one of the most important parts of adopting any animal is starting a savings account for that pet. Putting aside even a few dollars a week into an account for pet health/pet emergencies is the best thing you can do for your companion.

Why? First, none of us can tell when an emergency with our pet will arise. You can take the best care possible of your pet, and they can still suffer illnesses such as urethral obstruction or GDV. Secondly, if a client couldn't afford something I recommended but told me that they could meet me halfway because they saved up for this sort of thing, I'd be much, much more likely to help them out with the bill somehow.

Case in point.  I was recently presented with a laterally recumbent, seizuring, vomiting dog. Ellie was a 3 year old, female spayed Lab mix. She was allowed to roam free. The previous day, she'd been normal. This morning, the owners had found her practically non-responsive, seizuring and twitching in the back yard. They rushed her to us.

The exam fee for me to even do a physical exam on a patient is $92. These owners had nothing. Ellie was obviously in critical condition, so I examined her anyway. After listening to her history and examining her, I came to the conclusion that she was likely suffering antifreeze poisoning.

I went over this with the owners and discussed treatment options. They assured me that they had NO money. Nothing. Not even the examination fee. They applied for CareCredit and were declined. Then they just sat there and stared at me, waiting for me to offer options. I explained again that we did not bill. Even if we DID bill, Ellie was likely too far gone for the antifreeze antidote to work at this point.

Still, they sat. Then the husband said, "You know, I don't want to put my dog down for financial reasons. Can't you work with me?"

Why would *I* lend money to someone I don't know? First, it's not my clinic. I am an associate. Thus, if I extend credit to someone that I doubt will ever pay us a dime, I am essentially stealing from my employer. Secondly, if a person cannot get approved for a medical purposes credit card and cannot find one family member or friend to loan them money, why would I trust them and extend credit?

In the end, the owners allowed me to euthanize Ellie to stop her suffering. These clients made no effort to even meet me halfway - say coming up with the exam fee and $60 to confirm my diagnosis with a few simple lab tests. Had they made any effort at all, I could have done some simple, cheap things to make sure I was right (a urine sediment exam to look for a specific type of crystal seen with antifreeze poisoning, a blood gas to assess pH of the blood, anion gap, and electrolyte status). But they didn't. They expected it all for free.

When we went to load the body into the car, the owners pulled up to the curb in an almost brand new sports car (certainly FAR nicer than my 13 year old SUV) and unloaded several thousands of dollars worth of audio equipment from the trunk to make room for the body of their *beloved* dog.

If you want to get your vet to help you out, you have to meet us at least halfway.


  1. Despicable. At least they let you euthanize her. Imagine if these horrible people had insisted on taking her away. It makes me really angry when people obviously have means, and yet they choose not to spend money on their pets. I think its even worse than getting a pet you can't care for.

  2. I had someone do something similar to me, except when they refused to euthanize her, they threatened to take her out and run over her head. People like try to take you as an emotional hostage. I told them that if they wanted to play that game, I would be happy to call in the cops in the sleepy little town so they could watch. We got to euthanize. For free of course. I never regret it for the animal, but I feel like it is giving a free ride to someone that does not deserve it. And since their behavior was rewarded, they are likely to do it again.

    As for the equipment in the trunk, maybe you need to call the police and see if anything was stolen.

  3. You want to ask... Do you see XYZ Clinic & Savings and Loan printed on the sign?

  4. And they smoke a pack of cigarettes a day, and have $1,000 worth of tattoos.

  5. I once had a gentleman bring in a boxer having a severe allergic reaction, I quickly treated the dog (epi/Benadryl/dexsp) and he rapidly improved. At checkout he proceeds to tell the front desk he has no funds, his bill was less than 200- which is cheap for an ER visit. Needless to say we didn't get paid and he went and climbed into his Jag. @$$hole.

  6. We've been known to take a dog hostage until payment is received. I had one dog for 2 weeks after it recovered from HGE waiting for the owner to come up with the $250 for the bill (were in a poor small town so prices are on the lower end of the scale). The total bill even came in under my initial estimate but not after 2 weeks boarding charges were tacked on!!

  7. Now that I'm middle-aged, my mental filter has gotten a bit leaky. I've told clients like this that there are five pawn shops and title loan places within a half-mile of our clinic.

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  9. Okay, okay, I'll be the one to say it, because it drives me CRAZY. I am a veterinarian, but I am not necessarily hung up on medical terminology. But I AM hung up on just plain ol' English. The dog was SEIZING. It was having a SEIZURE. When I hear another veterinarian say "seizuring," I pretty much start out with the assumption that they're an idiot.

    1. This comment has been removed by the author.

    2. Definition: seizuring
      Part of Speech Definition
      Verb 1. Present participle conjugation of the verb seizure.[Eve - graph theoretic]
      Sources: compiled from various sources, (under license) copyright 2008. Webster's Revised Unabridged Dictionary

      And for funsies:

      6. douche bag 1074 up, 281 down
      Douche Bag
      1. An object used for vaginal hygeine.
      2. A person that is a total moron and doesn't think before he/she speaks or acts.
      3. One with an undescribeable idiocy, hence stupidity, poor idea of what's cool, possibly an arrogance about them.
      4. One with an intolerable personality.
      5. A person that doesn't bother with looking up a term before calling someone an idiot.

      Dictionaries: They're nice to have

    3. I do not understand your stubborn need to justify the use of piss-poor English. Your "cut and paste" technique alone shows that your definition was lifted from and is not the product of a working intelligence. If you will notice, in your very own snide reply, "seizuring" was a word produced by EVE - a program that scans billions of sources to come up with a gigantic dictionary. You will see that "seizuring" is derived from the word "seizure" using EVE's graph theory. This means she's scanned many, many sources where morons like you continue to think this is a word. Dig deeper than the first website that makes you feel superior and learn a little bit about the English language. A seizure is the act of seizing or the state of being seized. Plain and simple. The fact that you can get away with saying "seizuring" does not make it correct.

  10. Well, you got me there, Roots. I am an idiot. Amazing that I made it through vet school, eh? Yet somehow I did. With scholarships, no less.



    Note that there is no definition of "seizing" listed that is related to the act of having a seizure. I'll grant that such a definition may be found in medical dictionaries, but seizuring is a completely acceptable term, and is in common usage.

    If you're going to be an English usage nazi, it's best to make sure you're right, lest you end up appearing a pedantic ass.

  13. The "ur" is used in other verbs, too.

    For example, one might be masturbating, but not mastbating.

  14. I dunno, Grumpy - in the deep south, I think they mastbate. Maybe without the t...

  15. Had a client once who said her dog had idiot : idiopathic epilepsy.

  16. You could call it "fittin" as I've heard several crackers say.

    Not to be confused with a *conniption*, which is what a douche has when they see a word they don't understand.

  17. As a 20-year veteran of a busy small-animal practice, and as someone who worked in the veterinary field for seven years prior to that, I have decided to work part-time. This is due to two primary reasons: (1) I am pursuing other fields of interest (and income), but (2) I've become incredibly tired of waging war with clients over all the things that are illustrated in this blog. That is one of the primary reasons I read it frequently. They say misery loves company, and it's nice to see that I am not the only one beating my head against the wall or being villified for actually asking to be paid for my work or for "wasting" people's time by suggesting "unnecessary" preventative care just to "line my pockets."

    I have explained the latter to many people - both professional and non-professional - and everyone in the service industry has the same response. The general population is getting increasingly rude, impatient, nasty, entitled and intolerable. The very existence of this site is proof to that.

    Perhaps my original post regarding the use of the non-word "seizuring" was equally as harsh by characterizing the user as an "idiot". Language is a powerful thing, and as such we should respect it and use it as an appropriate tool in communication. With certain people in exam rooms, the esophagus becomes "your swallowing tube" or trachea, "windpipe." Conversely, I am offended when my gastroenterologist - who knows I am a veterinarian and acknowledges as such in one breath - proceeds to tell me how they are going to take "a tiny little camera down my swallowing tube" to look at my stomach, like I have no idea what "endoscopy" might mean.

    I understand that "seizuring" is a term we commonly hear; and I agree that is has become somewhat acceptable. That does not make it correct. The fact that the built-in spell check lights up even when you type the word "seizuring" should be a clue. I am not asking you to take my word for it. Consult a neurologist or a linguist if you have doubts. And perhaps I am a grammar Nazi, but as professionals, I am just as peeved when I hear "We ain't got no Synotic right now," or "I seen a tick just yesterday," or "he's drank the entire bowl of water," or "you should have your dog spaded." And as for the latter, yes, I have heard that come out of the mouth of a veterinarian.

    As professionals we should SOUND like professionals - at least when it counts for us to do so. Not only is the moral decline noticeable in our clients, our English decline can be illustrated with one visit to my 13-year-old niece's Facebook page. My brain cells die every time I go there.

  18. This blog exists because of our nightmare clients. You know them. The ones that go to the front desk and are overheard calling you a douchebag because you had the audacity to recommend heartworm prevention for a CAT for Christ's sake! Or the one's that roll their eyes because of the verbal mast'bation you're spouting over senior care. Or the breeders that call you a pedantic ass because you tell them there is no scientific knowledge behind their claim that Pomeranians just CAN'T consume red dye in their food or they will die. These people make us crazy, and their responses are rude, nasty, hurtful and unpleasant. When we are supposed to be the pet's advocate and are treated with such disdain, it makes every day a battle.

    Therefore, the same responses given anonymously via a computer blog are no less rude, nasty, hurtful or unpleasant. It is a manifestation of the spreading lack of civility that we are blogging about here, just turned upon each other. I apologize for the use of such a strong word as "idiot," but I expected people to respond more like I did many, many years ago when I was told by a very well-respected and reknown neorolgist that epileptics don't seizure, they seize. My reaction: "Huh? Really? Get out! Really?" Do a little research, and lo and behold, the brain man is right. Wow. How cool! I learned something new!

    I did not call him a douchebag. I thanked him.

    1. @roots4u interestingly, I was of similar opinion before this particular post was published (I'm not the one who wrote it). After the initial fracas regarding the use of the word "seizuring," I did consult an American MD neurologist (and no, it wasn't @docgrumpy!). I was informed that either is acceptable and it depends where you trained. I feel this particular usage issue is of little importance as long as all of the participating members of the conversation understand what is meant by either "seizing" or "seizuring."