Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Threats and shenanigans

It's been so bitterly cold across most of America lately - in an effort to stay warm, I have been thinking about summertime. When I think about summertime, I start off with images of sandy beaches and umbrella drinks - and usually end up with images of heatstroke and DIC. So, this story came to mind today. Enjoy!

A stray dog was brought to VBB Central once by a Good Samaritan. A real Good Samaritan - the kind who takes financial responsibility for the situation, not the kind who simply moves the problem from his lap to your lap. Anyway. He'd found this dog roaming his neighborhood and he thought it would be a good idea to bring it to us, because it had been outside for so long, he considered it a stray. He asked us to examine it and get it up to date on vaccines. He wanted to adopt it if possible. 

When we examine stray pets, we scan for a microchip, to see if possibly there is an owner somewhere looking for the animal. In this case, we found a chip, and were able to reach the owner - who told our receptionist that while he was unable to leave work at that time to pick up her pet, he would be happy to come get him in the morning. Okey-dokey. The Good Sam paid our bill for the care up to that point and went home, and the dog got put into the boarding kennel for the night. 

The next day, the owner came in to pick up the dog. When presented for the bill for the dog's overnight care (a whopping $23 boarding fee) he went ballistic. In the course of his ranting he expressed the belief that he had expected the care to be free, because it wasn't his choice to bring us the dog. Also, the dog should have been taken to the tax-funded shelter (there isn't one in his township, nor ours for that matter, but this fact was lost on him), and we were insane to expect him to pay. OK then.

So, Dr. VBB attempted to defuse the situation by telling Mr. Deadbeat to just take the dog and go home, and that instead of attempting to collect the boarding fee from him, VBB Central would report the stray dog situation to the township, and the township would handle it from there (historically this means that the township will assess a very large fine from the pet owner - and btw, this dog was not licensed, either, which is another fee). The man continued screaming. It got to the point where clients in the exam rooms with the other veterinarians were becoming fearful for their safety. One client asked "um, how well do you know that guy? are you sure he doesn't have a gun or anything?" At that point Dr. VBB, realizing that Mr. Deadbeat clearly has no intention of leaving, calmly said "if you'd rather stay here and yell instead of taking your dog and going home, I'm going to have to call the police and ask them to escort you off of our property. You are interfering with our business."

The man gets even MORE incensed. He is now asking Dr. VBB for her name, license number, social security number, all kinds of identifying information. He says he is going to "report [her] on the website" and she will lose her license, "why you say call police, you cabeza de mierda, you hate Hispanics, you want la migra send me home? you think I'm illegal? twenty years I'm American citizen! I'll take your license, pendeja!" But when Dr. VBB attempted to respond, the man just kept yelling and screaming over him. The man also refused to accept Dr. VBB's business card, which she offered to him so that he would spell her name correctly when he reported her to the board, of course...

This was going on for at least half an hour. Finally the man and dog went out to his car, and the staff at VBB Central watched warily from the window. That's when we saw the man put the dog into the trunk of his car! Bear in mind it was about 97 F at the time, too - and that car had been out there for at least an hour in the sun at this point. So against her best judgement as far as resolving this situation went, Dr. VBB went back outside and said "please do not do that, it is very dangerous for your dog." So of course he started in again "who do you think you are? you OBSERVE ME? you ain't allowed to observe ME! I'll have your license, pendeja!!" But luckily, while continuing to rant and rave, the man put the dog in the back seat, got in the car, and drove away.

It really kind of ruined that whole weekend at VBB Central though.


  1. Wow, I really feel sorry for that dog.

  2. I usually feel sorry for your stories, but in this case, the vet was clearly behaving unprofessionally. It takes 2 to argue, and to allow it to continue for 30 minutes was completely stupid. I've worked in retail pharmacy for years dealing with similar cases. You ignore the person and go back to work while the police are on the way. I no situation should you confront and certainly not for 30 minutes. This vet caused his/her own problems that day.

    1. You've never worked retail or with the public, then. It may take two to argue, but it only takes one to have a screaming rant fit.

  3. I am a vet. Plus I have worked in retail, hospitality and with the public in general for approximately 25 years and I am afraid I am inclined to agree with mikesim. Once upon a time I would tolerate this kind of behaviour but not any more. There is no excuse for it. Have the receptionist call the police and then refuse to engage.

  4. I would agree that the best thing to have done would have been to call the police after a couple of minutes of arguing and tell the owner to get off your property ASAP if he didn't want to be arrested when they arrived. Then walk away and have the staff ignore him. However, I also know how difficult this can be when someone is intent on screaming at anyone in range and is especially difficult if you're worried the situation might escalate to physical violence if not handled. I once spent 10 minutes with my staff in treatment while we waited for the police to come for an irate, intoxicated client. Not sure what I would have done if there had been other clients in the waiting room that needed to be tended to around her.

  5. The way this is written implies that Dr. VBB said she was going to call the police if the client didn't leave, but then the nonsense continues for at least half an hour *after* that. That's ridiculous. If you say you're going to call the police, you call the police.