Sunday, April 28, 2013

No, it's not funny. And stop touching me. (Guest post)

Our reader TBB shares:

The clinic where I (TBB) currently work has a consistent raunchy atmosphere when not
in the presence of clients. The camaraderie and the laughs associated with jokes makes
our soul-sucking job tolerable after the fifth euthanasia of the week. And while in most
work places, this is probably harassment, the truth of the matter is that the jokes save
our sanity. And really, the comments about shaving balls while prepping for a neuter are
always funny. Semen collections are even better.

I don’t appreciate the same behavior from clients. Somehow the fact that we work with
animals makes the filters on our client’s mouths disappear. I have never worked in a job
where so many complete strangers say horrible, dirty things to me. I’m not the only one
either- most techs I know have similar stories.

No one questions the procedure if a doctor has to do a prostate exam on a man- yet I
am constantly bombarded with comments from clients of both sexes regarding which
human will have their temperature taken next. And honestly, I really didn’t want to know
that the last time daddy tried that on mommy he didn’t use enough lube so every time
mommy tried to poop the next week, she bled. Collecting urine also comes along with
a set of comments on how we collect urine, if we need help ‘holding’ or if we would just
like some of the owner’s urine instead.

Restraining animals in exam rooms is apparently also an invitation for owners to get a
little love. All too often, the male owners use petting their dog as an excuse to grope my
breasts. I have seriously considered wearing Kevlar to work, and have compromised on
multiple sports bras and an undershirt in an attempt to look flat chested. I’m not sure if
owners think I won’t notice that they’re petting me and not the dog, or if they just don’t
give a damn.

Unfortunately, I’m pretty sure I’d get fired if I stood up and decked the next guy to give it
a try.

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Community hostage, more like.

Community service: donated service or activity that is performed by someone or a group of people for the benefit of the public or its institutions. Performing community service is not the same as volunteering, since it is not always done voluntarily. (source: Wikipedia)

As a veterinarian, I am sick of “community service”. Here in North Carolina the Public Health Department is responsible for ensuring that every county has a rabies clinic at least once a year. Note: that’s ONE rabies clinic per year. They are encouraged to ask each county’s veterinarians for ‘help’ with the clinic. After all, both the state rabies regulations and the state veterinary practice act require that a licensed veterinarian to administer the vaccine. North Carolina does allow for certified rabies vaccinators (CRV) but only if there is no veterinary participation. Even then, a veterinarian has to be available to supervise the CRV!

So Public Health Guy (PHG) comes to the office to ask for my participation. It’s a public service, do your part, protect the public health, let’s fight rabies, yada, yada, yada. He is not concerned that these animals typically have never seen a veterinarian in their lives. Most are not well socialized and understandably, want to take my head off. Or my hands. Better yet, try to corral a terrified cat loose in a hot car to give it an injection of vaccine! If an animal gets away and gets hit in the parking lot or causes a wreck by running into the road, will the owners acknowledge their own stupidity for not having said animal in crate or on a leash? Will it be Public Health’s responsibility for not arranging an indoor location? No; it’ll be Blame the Veterinarian time- so we have to provide liability insurance for the event.

So after this discussion, Public Health Guy (PHG) shows me a proposed newspaper ad stating what day and time we local veterinarians would be available to provide this valuable community service. The vaccination clinics are scheduled for Saturday afternoons and last for 2-3 hours. Apparently you can’t expect John Q Public to get up and about before noon on a Saturday. So PHG is asking me to take time away from my family to work for free- after I have already worked 6 days a week. Most people will find this odd, but veterinarians like to have time with our families too. They want me to participate this year in addition to the vets that did it last year; with more vets participating wait times will be shorter. Apparently John Q Public complained last year about having to wait 45 minutes to get their $5 rabies vaccine.

Notwithstanding the loss of a big chunk of my precious little family time, the biggest drawback is the cost. PHG is telling me that I can not charge more than $5 for the rabies vaccination. That doesn’t cover the cost of the vaccine, syringe, needle, tag and certificate much less license, staff time, my time and oh yeah, the insurance. But doesn’t the Public Health Department provide the vaccine you say? NO! They provide nada towards the clinic. Zip. Zilch, zero, nuttin’. In previous years, the Public Health Department would at least provide the specific required government rabies tags, the books of vaccination certificates and some administrative help to fill them out. But because of decreased county revenues, the Public Health Department did not budget to cover any costs associated with clinics that they are mandated to hold! You would think, since having the clinics is their responsibility, they would budget for said items. Nope.

Participating veterinarians are responsible for providing EVERYTHING for these clinics: their own time, vaccine, syringes, needles, liability insurance, technicians- who have to be paid (which puts them into overtime) or they won’t be covered by liability insurance, tags, certificates. And oh BTW, you can’t charge more than $5 per pet. When I pointed out to him that $5 does not even cover costs and the participating veterinarians will lose money on every vaccination, he responded “but it’s a community service”. I don’t see him losing money providing the community service! He’s on a government salary with benefits- and he isn’t giving up his personal time to help provide this community service. Yet veterinarians are expected to give up time with family, eat the cost, lose money, endanger themselves and those around them by dealing with animals that are poorly socialized, poorly restrained, in fact many animals that never see a veterinarian, except for the rabies clinic…all in the name of COMMUNITY SERVICE!

Here’s another newsflash - COMMUNITY SERVICE does not pay my bills, feed my family or fund my retirement. I provide community service daily- when I provide spay surgery below cost to make sure people can afford to get it done, when I work with the local shelter to provide care for unowned animals, when I work with the homeless.

The state statute raised the price Public Health Departments could charge for rabies vaccinations but guess what? Public Health doesn’t set the cost in my county- the cowardly bastards leave that to the county commissioners. Never mind that us local veterinarians who are supposed to participate aren’t consulted about our costs, the commissioners set the price to $5. After all, it has to be “affordable”. Affordable to who? Well, to John Q. Public, who feels entitled to government subsidy of their lives. After all, “It is a community service, a win win. For the pet, for the owner, for the community!” Uh, ‘scuse me…am I part of this community? If I have to pay to participate in this project, and am already barely keeping up with my overheard, is this a service to me?

Pet ownership is a privilege, NOT a right, folks. If somebody can’t afford to spend $10 a year on a legally required vaccination that protects them and their pet from a 100% fatal disease, then they shouldn’t own the animal. Shove your entitlement attitude of Community Service up your backside, PHG. Public Health should have the moral fortitude to stand up to the collective entitlement attitude of our society and charge $10. Then next year I might be able to participate without losing money.

At which point PHG states “Well there is always the rabies clinic we want to have in the fall. You could help with that if you don’t want to do one now”.

There is now a dent in my desk the exact size and shape of my head.

Friday, April 12, 2013

The usual suspects

Things I have been asked in the exam room this week:

Doctor, what's this on her bottom? (This question accompanied by owner's hand tugging on dog's vulva.)
Followup remark: oh, I thought that would have been more internal!
It left me wondering: what was this lady hiding in HER underwear? How would one have an internal vulva?

Doctor, I've noticed one of her nostrils is a little larger than the other, is that ok?

Doctor, when he pees, I can hear the pee hitting the ground. Is that normal?

Doctor, do you think he needs a fecal transplant from me?

Doctor, in people, do the anal glands just empty automatically every time we poop?

And finally, after a long discussion about why the dog on the exam table was unlikely to survive the next few days, let alone make it until mid-May when the adult child of the family would be home from school, during which I used the words "very painful" and "extremely unpleasant way to go," I got "OK Doc, but, before you put him to sleep - do you think you can trim his nails?" I declined to do that antemortem nail trim.

Thursday, April 11, 2013


I'd like to thank our esteemed colleagues in Pennsylvania for sharing with us an excerpt from an email recently sent out to veterinarians in that state. Apparently their regional veterinarian makes a habit of sending out monthly maps showing where there have been diagnosed cases of rabies and listings of potential exposures and so on. The March mailing contained this paragraph:
The maps are attached for your use.  There was nothing terribly unusual last month. I will, however, share with you a rabies case we just received a few days ago in which the person who was being attacked by the rabid raccoon killed, butchered and ate said raccoon.  Interestingly, usually even the dogs we deal with that kill rabid raccoons do not seem to eat them.  While eating a properly cooked rabid animal does not necessarily constitute an exposure, the butchering of the rabid animal can often lead to human exposures and so butchering of rabid animals for consumption is not advisable.

Good to know.

Monday, April 8, 2013

A Case of Mistaken Identity

I know we've posted before about some of the issues we at VBB Central have with breeders in general. I also know we've posted before about a particularly lame "wolf breeder" whose website is so painfully moronic that I can't even bring myself to link to it again. That said, Retrieverman has done a great job of pointing out some of the problems with that website here

Anyway, so, my point is that a lot of people just seem to have a lot of ignorance and confusion about animal genetics. Case in point, my friends: MAN BUYS TOY POODLES, DISCOVERS THEY'RE ACTUALLY FERRETS ON STEROIDS!

Ironically, the original English-language publisher of the story gets it wrong too, with their headline reading "Man gets shock of his life when he buys two toy poodles for $150 only to be told by a vet that they are actually GIANT RODENTS pumped up with steroids to look like dogs"....sigh. Ferrets are in the order Carnivora, not Rodentia, and are mustelids, not rodents. I'm just saying.

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Bring back Miss Manners!

I have children, and one thing I try to impress on them is how very important it is to be respectful of other people's time. I teach them that they should not be late for school, for example, because it is disrespectful to the teacher and the classmates, who are either wasting valuable time waiting for them, or wasting time repeating something they have already gone over. My kids seem to have internalized this message and they are pretty good about making sure they are ready to go places on time now.

I wonder if other people's mothers and fathers do not teach their children this lesson, or if more people just really are that selfish these days....

I'm writing this on a Saturday night. I don't spend Saturday mornings with my family. I spend them with my patients, because I know how many of their owners are simply not able to take time off from work to get here during the week, and I want these pets to receive care. There are of course a finite number of these Saturday appointments. I'm not giving up my entire weekend with my children and spouse!

The 9:00 AM appointment today was for a "new puppy, 8 wk old pit bull." I was pretty excited to see it. But at 9:15, my receptionist decided to call the owner. Here's how that went down:

Receptionist: Hi, this is Katie at VBB Animal Hospital. We had an appointment for NewPup down for 9 AM today, were you planning to come in or...?
Owner: Oh. I thought that appointment was for 11 AM.
R: No, we had that down for 9 AM. Would you like me to reschedule it for 11 AM? That slot happens to be open.
O: No, I'm not sure yet if we are actually coming in at all. I'll call you back if I want the 11 AM, otherwise, just forget it.
R: OK, well, if you do want it, please call, or if you'd like to make an appointment for another day, that's fine too. Thanks anyway! Bye.

Really? I would be so very disappointed in my children if they treated someone this way. It's just the height of rudeness and so disrespectful, not only of my time, but the other patients who could have had that appointment at 9 today...

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Guest post: first year out

One thing we know here at VBB central is that we are not alone. You, dear readers, are right there with us on the front lines. Today, Stephanie shares her story. She's a new graduate (class of 2012) all on her lonesome in an ER (don't get me started on THAT, btw...). She has some helpful information for the lay readership:

Public Service Announcement: Contrary to popular belief, it is actually not really physically possible for you, your dog, or any other mammal to actually vomit up their stomach.  It may seem like they are trying, and they probably feel like they have succeeded. But I promise you with 99.99999% certainty that the fluorescent pink object that was brought up by your dog at 2 AM is not, in fact, his stomach.  It is likely your teenage daughter's completely inappropriate underwear, with perhaps a bit of Alpo thrown in for good measure.  So when you show up at the ER at 3 AM, hysterical over the missing organ, please forgive me when I don't seem as worried as you expect. You've told me that your dog now must have "an empty tube" draining kibble into the abdomen, which will of course cause him to bloat [in a stomach that you suspect is no longer there?!? Oy.]  I'm sure you did read it on the internet. I really do appreciate* your effort to solve the puzzle for me prior to presentation by contacting Dr. Google, since I am such a fresh-faced young doctor. However, I promise that (barring any severe trauma, of course), there is still a stomach at the end of that esophagus, so he won't be needing that theoretical gastric prosthesis that you found while Googling on your smart phone.  I'll just wheel him into the OR, cut the matching bra and socks out of his jejunum, and he'll be well on his way to recovery. Or perhaps some more underwear-eating.

*Sarcasm. Just another service we provide!

Wednesday, April 3, 2013


This showed up in a reader's inbox yesterday.

Interesting how Banfield has an ad on gmail, meanwhile AVMA whines they "can't afford" a publicity campaign, but has no problem paying $178,000 for a logo, $615,000 for international activities, $deity-only-knows how much for when Google is free; NOBODY-knows-how much to redesign NOAH (which, in case you didn't know, stands for No One's Active Here) when everyone's already on VIN and VIN will offer them a members only section and a discount; and an additional unknown amount for a commemorative AVMA history book conceived, designed and executed entirely by staff using the time and infrastructure we pay for. For the definition of "we" that includes those of us currently receiving non-renewal surveys, of course - because we already paid into this, even if we have made it clear we will not continue to do so.

If you haven't already done so, drop them a note at the "why we have a new logo" page (linked above). Tell them why we don't need a new logo. I'm loving the comments so far.