Friday, March 16, 2012

Don't Judge Me

A few of us here at the VBB have fielded more than a few critical comments about our blog posts, some downright calling us names.  I feel they are just jealous that they are not as awesomesauce as we are, but I digress.  :)

I had to share a story about a situation that came up this week at my clinic that was so appalling, I had to write a blog about it so that I don't kill the person who did this.

So we're doing our normal routine right before lunch - working on a dental while the staff sees tech appts, etc.  Right about then a car drives up in our parking lot and sits there.  We notice, but no one has come in yet, so we just sort of wait.

Then one of my staff noticed that a woman with a small child got out of the car, brought a dog that was wrapped in duct tape to our light pole, and proceeded to tie the dog's leash to the light pole.  Staff ran out to the car to see if we could help, and this person had the nerve to tell us that "the dog needs to be euthanized but I can't afford it."   That was it.  No explanation, just made it clear she was gonna dump her poor dog off on us and leave.

The dog had some sort of extremely large tumor on its side, and this idiot had wrapped duct tape around the dog in some feeble attempt to control the fluid leakage.  Never mind that she hadn't taken the dog to a vet for ANY form of care.  Do I really have to say that this person had no business owning a pet?  But I digress again.

My staff caught her in time to shame her into admitting what she was gonna do.   She told us she could not even afford euthanasia.  Normally I would try to help if possible, but this person was so unbelievable in her trashy attempt to dump her suffering animal off on us, that I told her to take her pet to the low cost place and have him euthanized.  It broke my heart for the pet.  It made me want to kill her dumb ass. 

But she was not a client of mine, and other than paying for it all out of my own pocket, there was nothing I was going to be able to do to help.  And believe me - I pay out of my pocket every single day helping people and their pets.  I'm much more apt to give a lot more when I'm being met in the middle for the most part.  But come in as a non-client, offer ZERO money and just expect me to take care of your responsibility?  Um.  No.

So when people get mouthy with us and accuse us of being heartless or cruel or that we are being overly hard on clients...  understand that it is because of situations just like this that we suffer from a condition called Compassion Fatigue - a very real syndrome that vets (and other healthcare professionals) suffer from, because of the constant struggle of caring for animals a hell of a lot more than a significant amount of the general public cares for them. 

It simply wears us down with time.

10 years into this career, I can tell you that my used-to-be bubbly self looks at the newer generations entering the profession and I feel badly for them, because I know that they too will suffer from compassion fatigue at some point in this career. 

Because you just can't fix stupid.

32 comments:

  1. While it sucks that this person owns a pet, it is even worse that she has a child. I would have been tempted to call CPS and AC on her. She is going to do one of two things (or maybe both) to that kid: treat them like shit or teach them to treat animals like shit.

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  2. It was awfully tempting, but it was hard enough to tell her to GTFO and not just take on ANOTHER free case where I pay for the euthanasia and care of remains myself. I'm so sick of scenarios like that.

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  3. Get a plate. Call the cops. Leave the rest to me.

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    1. I would video it. And then I would post it; like a bad check from your neighbor, it would be seen by others coming into the clinic. It might involve public shaming of the person involved. At least I would hope so. Peer pressure can be so effective. The cop would be a hero and the duct taped dog owner would be the villain. I am thinking youtube of stupidest criminals.

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  4. "You can't fix stupid. There is not a pill you can take. There is not a class you can go to. Stupid is FOREVER." Ron White said it best (:

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  5. oh if I had a dollar for every time i "couldn't fix stupid"...

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  6. How sad is that? My gawd..

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  7. I worked 11 years in the animal field (Shelter, then as a Tech). There's a reason I got out. When you no longer care if an animal lives or dies....because you simply cant bring yourself to care anymore....because it's hurt you WAY too many times in the past....you know you're burnt out and it's time to GTFO of the field. I make soap now....I love my job....the only stupid I have to deal with is people that lick the soap (yes...that happens) and answer dumb questions about what's in the soap. I love my job....I miss my old job....but I can't bring that kind of pain on myself again.

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  8. The only thing I can possibly imagine might even have a smidge of helping is a reminder that there are also people who really, really, really care about their dogs. Also, they are as horrified about this as you are.

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  9. That story makes me want to cry for the poor dog.

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  10. She wasn't stupid- she was just poor. There's a huge difference. Yes, she had no business owning a pet she can't take care of (or having a child she can't take care of), but maybe she found the dog on the street- did the best she could for it as long as she could until she couldn't afford the to foot the bills. Instead of put it back out on the street- she took the time to drive it to a vet and hope that someone else with the means would be able to find the compassion for this animal.

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    1. The reason we get so angry at this woman and call her stupid is because she pushes us to that limit of compassion fatigue. But it isn't her fault. It's a much, much larger problem of poverty, too many stray animals, and lack of compassion from those with the funds to solve these issues. The solution: spay-neuter clinics and subsidizing pet healthcare for poor clients- the same way we subsidize healthcase for poor people.

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    2. Every town and/or county in America has a dog pound, animal shelter, Humane Society, or animal rescue organization. She had a car. She could've driven that dog to one of those facilities and surrendered it at no cost. They might even have come picked the dog up. "But it isn't her fault." Bullshit.

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    3. I actually agree that this woman was probably poor and desperate, but also stupid and irresponsible. Those four adjectives are unfortunately tied together in a lot of people. She may have had no money but what's galling is that she couldn't even be bothered to look into other options for her dog.
      I had a woman call me last year, asking me to euthanize 7 sugar gliders because she was keeping them in a bird cage and they were becoming aggressive towards one another (gee, you think?). I went online and within half an hour (off a Google search!) I had a rescue within driving distance ready to take them all. The woman thanked me profusely when she dropped them off for ME to take to the rescue. I just nodded and sent her on her way. I didn't do anything she wasn't too lazy and stupid to do herself. This is the kind of thing that exhausts you.

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    4. I just realized that I'm still furious about that one

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    5. I think that duct taping up a tumor that has gotten so bad that it drips constantly then tying your dog up outside of a vet clinic is not only indicative of someone that is stupid, but also someone that irresponsible. She wants someone else to take care of her problem. And rather than ASK for help, she just does the completely terrible thing of TYING IT OUT, hoping that someone else will feel bad and take care of her problem. Say that this person was just poor insults other poor people that manage to take responsibility for their pets.

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    6. I agree. It would take 30 seconds to pick up the phone and call a hospital to be instructed that the humane society does no cost euthanasia. Or 30 seconds to walk into the clinic and ask and be told the same thing. But apparently it's easier to just dump her problem onto someone else. Not to mention she did this in front of her impressionable child who will now think that this is an appropriate way to behave.

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    7. No, not every town/ county has a shelter or humane society. Mine does not. The rescues are closed most of the time because they cant keep up with the volume of animals. We had a woman with 100 rescued dogs and rampant bordatella for example. Our animal control will only deal with dangerous animals ie. Rabid skumks, vicious stray dogs,and feral pigs etc.... Of we find a stray, which we do often as we live in the 'country' and people often dump dogs out here, we are left with a few options. Leave the dog on its own, find it a home ( very.hard as.most friends and neighbors are.full up on rescued pets already), shoot it, pay for euthansia out of pocket. All difficult options but all we have. The next county over will only take animals from residents and is striving to be 'no kill' so when they fill up they stop accepting animals which greatly increases the dumped dogs and cats out here. I wish people would understand a humane injection is far kinder than dying of dehydration, starvation, being hit by a car or.maules.by coyotes.

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    8. Years of seeing this sort of thing over and over again has given me my very own special brand of compassion fatigue. The wonderful vet I work for would probably have given in, again, and performed the euthanasia at no charge. I would have silently done my part, but would have suggested to Dr. Toosoft behind the scene that I would gladly hand my Makarov to her, telling her that she can go ahead and shoot the dog right now while it's tied to the post. What I would charge for the bullet would be within her financial ability and I could probably find it by simply rummaging around her car or through the bottom of her purse. "Yes Ma'am. That's our low cost euthanasia, but you have to pull the trigger. Our liability insurance won't cover us if we do it and something goes wrong. But if something goes wrong when you pull the trigger, we're covered, but the police will have to be involved. Oh, you just found some money in the section of your wallet you don't normally use. That's great! Yes, it's not quite what we usually charge, but we'll make an exception in your case. No Ma'am, you'll have to take the dog home for burial as that's a separate business and our hands are tied on their fees. We have a box to put Rex in, but you'll have to dig the hole in your yard yourself. I would recommend at least 3 feet down from the top of the box or some wild animal might dig Rex up and you wouldn't like your child there to go outside one morning to see various parts of Rex scattered around your yard."

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  11. Being one year into the veterinary profession, I can attest to Compassion Fatigue. Some weeks are better than others, but on the bad weeks, I find it hard to believe this can be a sustainable life-long career. It can be EXHAUSTING sometimes dealing with people. Then there are other days that are fulfilling. I think "You can't fix stupid" pretty much sums it up!!

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  12. should've called the cops. That's abuse. Then she would've had the pay for the euthanasia and a nice fine.

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  13. This is the kind of thing that makes me wonder if I really want to be a veterinarian...

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    1. Veterinary medicine isn't all cute puppies and kittens. It also involves a lot of suffering, death, and emotions that fall all across the spectrum. Keep your eyes very wide open if you pursue veterinary medicine.

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    2. I'm not afraid of suffering, death, or disease; it's these stories of clients that put me off the most.

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    3. Doing emergency and critical care, I saw enough trauma and suffering for a lifetime over only 10 years. However, the thing that causes me the most angst and anxiety is the callousness of people. And the people that think that I should take care of their problems because "I love animals." I got very tired of being the bad guy...and when people won't let you help and say they are just going to "run over his head" in the parking lot, that just got to be too much.

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  14. It's this kind of thing that made me be a nurse and not a vet. I'm way too soft around animals to be able to face that typeof bullshit week in and week out.

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  15. The sad part is most of the people that I see who do this are driving nicer cars than I do & often are wearing expensive watches or jewelry.

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  16. After 20+ years in rescue, I'm past compassion fatigue. I just plain hate people... the ones needing to turn in their 12 year old Collie cause they 'don't have time for him anymore' (he sleeps about 20 hours a day), or the ones with the new house and beautiful special ordered ecru carpet..... can't keep a dog when you have light colored carpet, you know. Really? Are you freaking kidding me? or the ones that can no longer afford the dog -- scuse me, but how much do armpit to wrist tattoo sleeves cost nowadays???? (please pass that Makarov..... cause I just figured out how to fix stupid.....) That's why I love this blog --- it always inspires me.

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    1. "he sleeps about 20 hours a day". The dog or the owner? Both?

      I see these losers every day. The ones claiming they can't afford (fill in normal societal/legal expectation here), but they are NEVER without their beer, their cigarettes, and their tattoos. Fortunately, I only do rescue in my off time, so their's still plenty of compassion left in the tank for the dogs that deserve it. Now as for their owners, well.....

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  17. DogMa, you are proof that it's not just veterinarians feeling this way. There is an underlying illness in this society that causes us to make excuses for every damned thing stupid people do. Dumped your dog? You must be poor (not an irresponsible psychotic nut job). Didn't spay your cat? And she had 10 litters? You must be poor. (super cheap low cost facilities ended that excuse) Pets behind on rabies vaccine? You must be poor. (see low cost facility excuse) Gave your 5 lb dog horse dewormer because the feedstore told you to and it died? You must be stupid. Sigh. Let's just stop making excuses for ourselves as a society and start holding people accountable and I guarantee that a lot of what ails us as a country would get solved! This isn't just about vet med. This is about a sick society that is getting sicker because we are self-enabling it! GAH!

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  18. Officer Cynical, move to our suburb please!! Just don't pull me over for speeding to work. :-D

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  19. Amen, grumpyER vet: "...driving nicer cars than I do & often are wearing expensive watches or jewelry"

    DogMa, most days I hate the human race too (still love my profession) - I wish I could spend most of my time practicing medicine, & quit being a combination of business manager/amateur psychologist/family counselor...

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