Saturday, March 24, 2012

"I've already spent SO MUCH MONEY..." - guest post

Today, a guest post from Emily, who writes:

I have been working in ER/Critical Care for more than 10 years.  And wow, today I read in the news that the owner/trainer of "Uggie" who was in Artist and Water For Elephants was suffering from some mysterious shaking disease and had spent thousands of dollars on trying to figure out what it was, I got a little miffed.  Now you might think that I would be happy that they were spending money on the dog that they earn money off of, but no.  Why does the amount spent have to be at the forefront of the conversation?  Do parents always preface their quest for diagnosis on a illness in a child with a dollar amount that they are spending after insurance?  No, not really!!!!
Does spending money on your pets make the owners saints?  Some owners think so, but really come on people.  Having a pet is a responsibility wether or not the pets are for companionship, breeding, show or other.  It is very frustrating to go into a room and the first words from the client are "I've already spent 200 dollars on Fluffy and I she is not better and I really do not want to spend much more."
Well, had the owner got their pet vaccinated appropriately, you would not be here with the dreaded Parvo virus!!!  Had the owner spayed or neutered their pet they would not be here with ulcerated mammary tumors, or a testicular torsion.  Had the owner properly provided flea, tick and heart worm preventative, they would not be here for flea anemia, immune mediated joint disease or right sided heart enlargement.  Had the owner actually paid for regular grooming, or bathed and brushed their pet regularly, they would not be here for skin laceration from trying to cut matts off their pet.
I have known clients to obtain a second mortgage to pay their vet bills. Their pets were family.  I have had clients call family and friends to collect money to treat appropriately.  It can be done!!!
So, when people brag on how much they have spent on their pets for sympathy or attention, I find it repulsive and insulting.  We are doctors, we studies hard, we love medicine and prefer treating those who do not have a voice!!  Veterinarians are here to provide a voice for the patients.
The owner/trainer of Uggie certainly have it in their budget for pet health insurance as well as most others. It saves in the long run just like it does in people.  Imagine if you had to pay for your annual physical exam and blood work, mammogram or colonoscopy, or any ER visit or UTI or sinus infection.
We are doctors and not taking advantage of people or their pets.  We want to practice excellent medicine and improve quality of life for pets.  It is not amount the money. 
I tend to agree - investing in preventive care up front can save a lot down the road. Too many owners are penny-wise and pound-foolish. But then, that's not a behavior limited to pet-owners. Emily, I feel your pain. I hope the economy turns around and fewer people are put into the position of making healthcare decisions with their wallets.


  1. Now you know part of the reason I'm grumpy. lol.

  2. Well, it would certainly be different if human healthcare suddenly morphed into a vet-based model. Can you imagine the outcry if we suddenly started humanely euthanizing children for expensively treatable diseases?

  3. Pet owners can pay now or pay the emergency clinic later but they will always pay in one from or another

  4. I don't think it is necessarily bragging or asking for sympathy or even questioning the vet's abilities, but a way of expressing how frustrated they are when the doctors can't find a definitive diagnosis. Sometimes clients don't know exactly what tests have been run, etc. in order to try and figure out what the problem is so they figure that by saying how much money has been spent, it emphasizes that they have tried to do a lot for their pet.

  5. Apparently most clients do not understand what one goes through to become a vet and whats involved in running a vet business. To some clients vets are greedy people who want to get rich overnight because 'how can it cost more to have Fluffy treated than to have my kid treated'. I used to give clients discounts bt have realised that they regard vets as inferior to other medical professionals and actually feel that vets should charge far much less than their counterparts in human mdicine. These days I only deal with those clients who are prepared to pay for their pets because I enjoy practising the best possible veterinary medicine. For me its either I do the best job possibl or I do nothing at all because I do not want to lose sleep over a patient I treated using a shortcut because the client was not willing or able to pay. Those who cannot afford private veterinary care can approach charity organisations

  6. Meant client was not willing or unable to pay.