Saturday, September 23, 2017

The Storm Behind The Rage. When The Truth Threatens. Backlash of Rant Video

It has taken me days to begin to try to understand the reasons for the intense backlash I am facing.
You see I posted this video. It went viral. It was an emotional plea for the veterinary community to do better than we have. To help people find meaningful AND affordable answers when they come to us in need. It focused on how expensive care has gotten, and how, for too many, veterinary care has gotten out of reach.

The example, (which in retrospect I would have changed and made less about the individual case and more about the systemic problem as a whole), was met by intense anger, threats, harassment and about the worst week of my life. I was attacked, ostracized, banned, bullied and castigated by, what appears to be (almost) the entire veterinary community. I am being called "the most hated person in veterinary medicine," "the reason the suicide rate is so high," and told that "you are under attack so be careful."

It is a burden of despair I would never wish on anyone. I find myself alone, afraid, and questioning everything I thought I stood for and belonged to. While I would never publicly attack anyone (maybe just politicians, if I am being open and honest), I would not ever name a business, or "throw anyone under the bus." You may choose to not believe that, but to most people outside of the veterinary community they seem to understand my point and my message without placing blame on any single person, business, or facet of our profession.

There is a problem. It is a very big, very deep, very emotionally charged problem. I am not the first person to bring it up, although I might be the strongest voice heard across the greatest distance. To deny the problem is futile. The number of people who have added their stories, relived and recounted their tragedies and their grief to the video feed proves this. The inane reaction to justify this 'out of reach for too many high cost' explanation from the vets that "our cost of education is $XXX (too high), our expertise and training, our overhead, our long hours, overnight/holiday/weekend schedules, etc. etc." are not falling on ears who understand, identify with, or even for the most part care. The general public can be told repeatedly about all of the reasons the costs are so high, but when their family members life is on the line, they don't care. They don't care why it is soo expensive, they overwhelming, over-archingly and quite verbally feel this is simply the case. Further, it doesn't motivate them to find resources they don't have.

Now I understand the arguments from the vet side that are being placed on the pet parents. All of the blame we place on them. This is also a waste of time, and a further divide we place on an already tenuous situation. They are where they are. Telling them they should have known better is salt in a wound simmering in shame and disdain. They are your customers. We wouldn't have a job if they knew how to avoid us.

Stop blaming. Stop shaming, and start listening.

Where does my personal discontent lie? I don't care how much anything costs when someone can afford it. The number of zeros, the placement of that comma sign are not relevant when a pet parent can pay. It ONLY matters when they come to us (yes, I know many of my colleagues now take offense at my use of "us" as I am, in their eyes no longer a part of "them") with a pet in need and we forget, or omit, or disregard their journey and their plight. We HAVE to listen. We have to offer assistance AND, most importantly, WE have to help. Realistically, when rubber meets the pavement, we have to speak a common language with a common patient centered goal and make it work. Start to finish. Everyone walks out feeling the patient was put first.

A significant part of the veterinary profession is focused on the top 20%. Those people (I, in truth doubt it is even 20%) who have lots of disposable income and are willing and able to pay regardless of the cost. These clients spend tens of thousands of dollars on their pets care. There is an inordinate amount of options for this population. They are well served and under representative of the pet owning population. The problem is that the able love their pets as much as the struggling.

I live with my pets, who are the only beings who will ever have my name to carry as their legacy (not silly to me) and I will fight for their well being for as long and as much as I am able to pay. I am a pet parent and they are my first and truest love and obligation. I am like all of those millions of passionate viewers. We, all of us, know this, we need to make this relationship paramount in every single decision making process and every single word we utter. It is the center of our duty regardless of which side of the exam table, or operating table you stand on. It has no price and yet it too often has narrowly defined options based only on available cash resources.

When a person comes to a vet they should not ever feel that their decision to love their pet depends on a dollar figure. It is possible in almost all cases to allow a pet parent to leave our facility feeling "ok" with their decisions. They may not have won the battle between life and death, but walking away accepting the consequences does not hinge on ability to pay large sums of money. We owe, I owe, each other that. We have forgotten, or overlooked in our defensive, protective posturing, to remind ourselves that compassion is still free.

So, I am at day 6 of this pit of pity. I cry everyday. Sometimes over the stories people have shared and the terrible heart ache they still carry. The overwhelming burden to help them move on if they can only forgive themselves. The fear that I cannot wear a name tag to a veterinary conference, of which I have to go to ( I am seriously considering going abroad for this next year), and the anguish I think I am putting my family and clinic through. I wish I were even more isolated so I could spare them this journey. It is that bad for me right now.

Medicine is all about dealing with worst case scenarios. Looking at a case and asking yourself what you need to do, what approach you need to take for the patient, how you can protect them from whatever this case might be if it is indeed the 'worst case scenario'. It is also about cajoling that client to understand your perspective on their pet, and encourage them to take the next steps needed to alleviate the condition. I am trying to strategize my own worst case scenario. Let the lynch mob of angry vets, who can't take responsibility, cannot for reasons I find inexcusable say that they have failed to meet our clients expectations and say that they are sorry (I sincerely feel like I am the only person able to utter these important over due words) and move forward. There seems to be only 2 or 3 people inside this profession who get this. Why is that? That is my question? Why do I see the world so differently than so many of my colleagues, and for heavens sake why can't anyone step up, hear the million people screaming for their pets, and say something! Why are we still throwing more division into an already over divisive topic?

The fact remains, vet care is too expensive for too many. It has to be mitigated somewhere.  We (vets) don't want low price options being offered out in our own neighborhood, yet, we don't want to lower our own prices. We aren't shy about asking for clients to pay thousands for our services, but we don't talk about the W2's we file. Why is that? Don't tout the same old "no one gets into veterinary medicine to become rich" when there are a number of vets, who would very closely approximate the definition of "wealthy" to the mass majority of the public we serve if their salary was revealed. Don't try to bull- your way into telling people they aren't worth your time because you aren't trying to get rich. Most people, (which is open to each persons interpretation), are trying to get rich. Most do it on the backs of others less fortunate. Be honest here. The vet profession can show a little integrity in this department. We all look for less expensive options. It is the nature of our being. Getting something for less because you have access to the price is called an open free market society. Getting rich by charging more, or spending less, is the formula to wealth. Wealth is still perceived as a sign of success. The cost of Vet med these days are squeezing this ability out of peoples reach. The divide between finding affordable accessible care and 'Ivory Tower' or "ideal standard of care" case management is harder to find and less appealing to offer. Where there is a market there is an opportunity. Maybe that is what is so threatening?

The profession may think I am attacking, undermining, or belittling them. Their efforts, their intentions, their heart and soul, but I am not. This is not about an individual, although we are of course a collection of the sum of our parts, this is an outcry for change in the system. It will happen, it has to happen.

Care costs, but that cost has options, real life-saving, life-changing options.. Decline a full blood work and do a PCV/TP and do the damned pyo surgery for $200 less. Why not? What do you have to lose? A dog, or a paycheck?



As always I wish you all love, peace, and kindness.

Find me, anytime, at Jarrettsville Vet, on Pawbly.com and after the shit-storm passes back on social media.

If you have a story to tell you can email me.. If you have a voice to help others in their quest for help for their pets care and well-being join me on Pawbly.com. It is free for all and dedicated to providing real help for real people.. I cannot always tell people what they want to hear, but, we will always be compassionate to your pets.

Krista..

31 comments:

  1. You are so awesome and brave, I am going to start referring people to your site. We are all behind you.

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  2. Standing right beside you Krista. Thank you for first being the loving and compassionate person you are, and then an amazing vet too!

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  3. You are the very embodiement of the words "Integrity" and "Courage". The self-interest of this Human species is often the most disgusting attribute that we harbor; to see someone deny that in the interests of fairness and compassion is the highest example of the BEST impulses in a Human Being that can be found. Keep your head high and know that there are millions who stand with you and respect you MIGHTILY for what you are doing here!!!

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  4. Ditto Krista! You are an AMAZING woman & VET, for actually caring so much about our pets & their owners. Seriously......God Bless you for who you are as a human being & how you spoke the words that most pet parents have felt for so long! We are all behind you! I am so sorry for all that you are enduring, for doing nothing more than stating the truth!! I truly wish that we the PEOPLE who stand behind you, could take away the pain that you are enduring, caused by this TRUTH! Honestly, I feel like all of these people (so called ADULT veterinarians) need to GROW UP!!! Why be so defensive if you are not doing exactly what she said!!!! Seriously!!! GROW UP!!! And help!!! Instead of hate!! COMPASSION GOES A LONG WAY!!!!

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  5. My deepest respect for you in a world that seems to have forgotten what that is. Thank you for standing up and honoring what you stand for. When I struggle to have hope for humanity you are there in that glimmer of hope. Please keep fighting for the animals.

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  6. I wholeheartedly applause you for stepping up and addressing this issue. You are a true warrior! I have had pets all my life...now that I live in Mexico, my husband and I singlehandedly undertake rescues who are at the end of their rope. I try not to use vets for the reason you have stood up for. I do everything myself except for surgeries (lancing an abscess I can handle) We can buy Vet meds down here without too much problem. Years ago in Canada, a cat had moved into our barn with the horses. He was an amazing fellow. I got him fixed and he continued to live with us for a number of years. One morning I noticed he appeared to be having problems peeing. Yes, you guessed, he had a urinary problem. I took him into the vet and then it started. IV's, catheters, meds and the list goes on. This went on for 2 weeks and cost me a fortune but I so wanted to help this loyal soul who had adopted us. After the 2 weeks I knew he was not getting better and all of this was an assault on his dignity. It was pointless discussing this with the vet. "Oh we can do this, we can try this, etc." NO, he was not getting better, he was getting worse. I had to say farewell to this bundle of love and loyalty. After a bill of 1700 Canadian dollars that I had paid, I then received a bill of 300 to have him euthanized. ???? No note of condolence, nada. I was devastated by guilt that I had put him through everything and then played God. To have this final assault put on me was horrific. They knew the outcome was going to be the same no matter what was done I found out. Changed my perspective a lot since that time. I still have the utmost respect for vets and what they do. Not all are $$ gougers but I have learned to diagnose and help our creatures with as little contact with them as possible. It is unfortunate that greed overcomes many at the expense of caring humans and their furbabies. Just saying this to say I feel very proud of you for stepping up and although I do not know you I feel you are an amazing human. Thank you for all you do for everyone, 2 legged, four legged, etc. <3 <3

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  7. Krista,

    You did the right thing. Things we don't want to address are always met with negative.

    You've started an important conversation, I'm sorry for the backlash.

    Hold your head HIGH ��

    Would love to have you as my vet.

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  8. We are behind you 100%. We love ❤️ you and hope the storm blows over soon. Nobody should ever be attacked for speaking up so passionately about a broken system. You and the staff are the best...and the reason we drive an hour to come there even with one dog that gets car sick 😷, Love you! The Francis Family
    and especially Ty and Kody!

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  9. I don't know about your clinic but I know at mine, the animal comes first. If you have $20 in your pocket, that is what we will accept.
    The high cost of veterinarian medicine is sometime contributed to those who do have the ability to pay but choose not to, those who write a check they know can't be covered, or promise to make payments but never do. Their animal still went home feeling better with the medicine to help them recover.

    The clinic I volunteer at is on a skeleton crew because of the fact that our vet cares more about the animal than getting a payment. Yet he could give care to so many more animals that needed it if he had the staff to be able to cover it. I volunteer to help him save money and I get to learn in the process.

    I can't tell you the thousands of dollars he has to write off because the people don't want to pay anything for vet care. He even offers a few to come in and work in the clinic to help pay their bill off but almost all of them say no.

    There are many times that it isn't a vet's fault for high prices. They have to raise their prices to keep the lights on and the rent on the office up to date. I know there are some vets whom are in it for the money only but I guarantee there are more of them who are in because of their love of animals.

    Surgical supplies, medicines, vaccines, etc all cost the vet money. They are supplies that are crucial to have. If they gave everyone big discounts or free services, how would the vet be able to afford to replenish his/her stock for the next animal that comes in and needs care.

    It is time to stop blaming the vet and start blaming the ones who don't pay their bills or promise to pay but never do. If a vet is too high for a person to continue going to, find another vet that possibly charges a little less. When someone comes in for a yearly checkup they should only get the rabies vaccine and a check up. Rabies is the only one required by laws.

    Pet parents need to put $5 or $10 a paycheck up in a cookie jar or somewhere for emergencies, plan ahead and apply for Care Credit, or call a shelter/rescue first to see if they can help you with the cost.

    I know many will disagree with me on what I have written but sometimes it takes actually working in a vet's office to open your eyes to what really goes on.

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    1. I don't think anyone would disagree with you. The original post was in regards to the vets who DON'T do it right. Thank you for your story of your wonderful vet, we need stories like that too. But, as you have probably read, many of us animal owners have had bad experiences and some of us, many bad experiences. I for one worked with a cat rescue and there were about 8 of us who all had bad experiences. The founder of the pet rescue was more trustworthy then any vet any of us could find. She wasn't a vet, but we she knew so much and when you don't trust vets it gets really hard. I was so tainted for a while that I was certain 90% of vets were bad, but I have some hope now. I finally after 4 years of not finding any reapuatable vet, found a wonderful, compassionate, caring vet. There is a problem out there, the hundreds of responses of bad experiences prove that. The problem does not include every vet and I wish your vet who sounds wonderful would stand along side of Krista to help with this problem.

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  10. I appreciate everything you are fighting for. I understand there is alot of studying and years of school and training to go thru to become a vet, but I and many others love our pets and can't afford hundreds upon hundreds of dollars to just drop on my dogs and cats. My current dog is my pal and it would absolutely kill me if something happened to her and I couldn't fix it because of money. The same goes for my 2 cats. I am alone about half the year and I am going to college so they are really what I look forward to going home to see. Right now, I work for a vet so it helps to lower my cost of care somewhat, but if something horrible happened and they needed more than about $200 worth of care, I am not sure what I would do.

    I stand behind you. I love the work you are doing. Please keep it up!!!

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  11. I truly appreciate your passion and kindness. I know you have looked at my 'Come, Sit, Stay Awhile' blog and I invite you to check out my blog at barkingtwo.blogspot.com where I keep track of, and list, my annual pet expenses.

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  12. Krista, we have never met but I know many of my clients use Jarrettsville Vet. I think the treatment you have received within the veterinary community is appalling. At no time did you suggest that veterinarians should work for free. I 'do' know that there are less than ethical veterinarians out there who rape their clients. I have a client who may have lost her dog because the first vet she visited gave her an outrageous price to remove a tumor.Fortunately she has an out of state relative who is a veterinarian and told her to take her elsewhere. The reputable hospital did the same surgery for a fraction of the cost and her beloved dog is absolutely fine today. Are there 'really' some veterinarians who would let an animal die if there clients could not afford their 'over inflated' prices? That is medical ethics at its 'worst'! Are veterinarians now reducing themselves to the same fate as auto mechanics? Must people now question the cost and necessity of everything? I am certain unnecessary testing is done all the time. A person should be able to trust their veterinarian as humans should be able to trust their Dr. I suppose I could liken you to a whistle blower. Whistle blowers see an injustice and report it. The people against whom they have blown the whistle are, of course, furious. Such is the case here. I commend you for your passion, ethics and integrity. I hope you can find a way to rise above the greed driven vitriol with which you have been bombarded. Stand proud knowing you have done and continue to do the right thing for your clients and patients.

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  13. Its a shame you have to stand up for your clients and their pets. I know so many people who have a dog or cat for more reasons then just have a pet. Some suffer every day with PTSD, mental illness, stress,anxiety. Their pets are literally the only thing that keeps them living. With that said, I am one of them. 8 years ago I lost my cat she went EVERYWHERE with me, a year before that she got sick in the middle of the night. I rushed her to the emergency vet, they quoted me a price and it scared me. The man behind the counter looked at me and said "If you dont have the money maybe you shouldn't own a pet". I scraped the money together ($7000.later) and she lived only to loss her a year later to congestive heart failure. I am not a client of yours, but I stand behind you 100%. God bless you!

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    1. Hello,
      I hear this story too often,, repetitively. It is sickening to me that we are pitting clients love and adoration for their companions, and often life lines, because of exorbitant costs, and unwillingness to work within the abilities of our clients. There is no way I will ever believe that we can't still provide compassionate, reliable pet care at reasonable costs. The backlash from pet parents is warranted and the division will grow wider and deeper until we concede that the excuses like you mention "If you don't have the money maybe you shouldn't own a pet" need to stop. How dare they judge and shame you. That's an ethical violation and an inflammatory divisive remark.
      I am sorry for both your loss and your experience.
      Sincerely,
      krista

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  14. You have struck a chord! How ever many vets are attacking you, you have way more consumers that have your back; you need to remember that. These vets attacking you are feeling convicted and they don't like it. Then, thousands of incidents are being reported to prove you
    Are right and now they REALLY don't like it. They act like we the consumers are dumb and don't understand how hard they've got it. Give me a break. I'd love for one of those angry vets to spend one month in the shoes of the founder of the cat rescue I help, and then they will know what hard work is. I'm not saying what you do isn't hard, but so are many other tbings. Stay true to your beliefs, you will be rewarded. It may not be in the way most people look at rewarded, but it will happen. And, focus on all of us that are behind you 100%. God Bless you!!

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    1. Hello Jill,
      Thank you! You hit the nail on the head! The vet community is screaming for empathy while they abandoned their compassion... and now they are really upset that they got called out on it,, not by just me,, but by everyone else too! You cannot ask for one while you refuse to provide the other.

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  15. I respect you for telling the truth. I wish you were closer to me!

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    1. Thank you Linda.. often the truth hurts,, but it can also set you free. Heres to hoping the former brings the latter, xoxo krista

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  16. By your side always. You are not alone, I think some of your peer group are just not willing to put themselves on the line. Our thanks to you. I am a breeder of quality purebred dogs. You are the kind of professional that I want to refer my owners too.

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    1. Hello,,
      I think that throughout this shitstorm of bullying and nastiness all i ever needed to hear was that people were here for me.. many of these are people I dont even know personally., but these people love their pets as family and I owe it to them, all of us, to do whatever I can and have to to protect and defend them. I want to say THANKS! for reading and reaching out to me.. I am by your side as well.. krista

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  17. (((hugs))) We need vets like you!

    This last week we went through one of the worst crisis I've ever faced. My 10 year old spooky greyhound has 4 seizures in 10 hours. End up at the hospital needing IV meds to get them under control. Neither of us has ever experienced a seizure before. I've had her for 8 years.

    The hospital was able to give me 4 different treatment options. Which really helped control costs. We got very lucky! The drugs we chose worked! Which cut down on the hospitalization cost.

    The hospital insisted we go to a neurologist. They wouldn't discuss any other possibility. A neurologist is the only person who could work with figuring out which anxiety meds would work with the seizure meds.

    Only trouble is that I've had her for 8 years. We've pretty much tried all the anxiety meds and they did not work as well as the as amatriptalyn.

    I called our primary vet in a slight panic. She was able to calm me down and offer 3 options.

    Going to the neurologist would tell us the why. We could get a diagnosis.

    If it is a brain tumor it may be operable.

    The third option is that she helps us manage the seizure meds until we can't manage any longer. We will cross that bridge when we get there. Worst case scenario, xanax pays nice with the current seizure meds. And we know that short term med works well with her little brain.

    We can try to keep her quality of life which is the most important thing. I think every Veterinary professional should strive to always give your clients at least 3 viable options to choose from. The bonus is that it calms us down and helps us make those cost decisions.

    Don't stop doing what you are doing! I've been through a dozen Veterinary practices until I found out current one. It's HARD to find someone who you can trust and that will communicate well. It shouldn't be that hard. People need to think about these challenges. Just because we have the medical capabilities, doesn't mean it's right for every pet and owner.

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    1. Hello Jessica,
      Thank you so much for sharing your story! I sincerely hope that you will join me on Pawbly.com and our facebook page.. We are mounting an army of people just like you so that other people can learn from our experiences, trials and terrible tribulations... it is our way to pay it forward and protect a pets life regardless of how far away, how late at night, or who they meet at their time of peril AND I want to start offering people options even if their vet doesnt! We can do this togehter.. its a tall task but we have each other! I wish you and your spooky girl many happy days ahead! PS I also have lots of info on seizures on this blog.. let me know if you think they help? Or if I should add anything?
      Be well!

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  18. Krista, I'm so sorry you had that reaction from the veterinary community - I thought better of them! Please keep up the good work, and know that there are many of us who have your back. :)

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    1. I thought better of them too.. They either don't care, think they can't afford to care, or check their compassion at the door because it is too difficult to care and keep going. It is disappointing and will be the ultimate demise of many a pet and professional. Thank you for all of your support through the years. xoxo

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  19. First off, let me say how sorry I am for any threats, name-calling, harassment, and so forth that you received because of your viral video. Differing opinions is one thing but that behavior is never acceptable. I respectfully disagree with your views for reasons I'm sure many have echoed. I do agree it is our duty in the veterinary profession to give owners many options (including payment options) and never make any judgements. But in a world with increasingly less accountability, I feel you have given many owners an avenue to blame veterinarians for fair prices. I again echo the sentiment that I am sorry for the backlash that has been thrown your way. All I hope is that you don't confuse constructive, professional criticism with cyberbullying. If you want fellow veterinarians to be open to your views, you must be open to their's too. I noted you asked many owners to share their stories of hard financial times pertaining to their pet with you-I truly hope you collect those and put them to good use how you see fit and that it is not a shameless ploy to garner more business for your clinic and online endeavors. I hope this event brings good into our profession instead of dividing it. God bless.

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    1. hello,
      Where to start? One, just admit you're a person who is a veterinarian and use your name. In the vain of transparency, attempting to provide a legitimate apology and your own integrity maybe start there? Its ridiculous I can place a voice to the masses who are undeniably hurt and angered, and you can't be honest with that. What are you afraid of if your criticism is constructive? Further, I don't care if veterinarians agree with me.. the public does,, and we don't have a job OR a purpose if they don't trust us and need us, do we? I am not sorry that you (the profession, whomever) doesn't agree with me or my views.
      Second, you are vet and therefore you miss the point that everyone else understands. It is not about price! It is about options that are affordable. Why does the profession get soooo defensive about this? People all have different price points for affordability. Start there, INSTEAD of shaming and blaming them when they cannot afford YOUR idea of affordable.
      I will not only share stories I will share prices. If we as a profession cannot do this for THEIR sake someone MUST. You can disagree with anything you want. We are lucky to live in a free country,, you know,, the "home of the brave and land of the free." Be brave, give yourself a name, Stand behind what you believe, with integrity (and that only comes from transparency). Or, provide your constructive criticism and apologies elsewhere. They mean almost nothing when you cannot give them your voice. I am not angry at you, I am angry so many vets, and this profession, think this behavior is permissible. Ask yourself if you would feel the same way if you were the consumer?
      Constructive criticism starts with acknowledgement there is a problem. Ask the millions of people who love their pets if there is a problem finding affordable care with transparency and accountability?
      And yes, cyberbullying (and all the rest as you state above) is alive and well when there is an emotional anger that hurts this deep. Accountability? Where is that? I have not seen it? I don't even see it in your remarks. Start with the small change you can make in yourself. It is where the only chance of sustainability lies.
      The degree to which so many veterinarians only seem to be able to reply with "anonymous comments" OR nasty threats is shameful. The problem is not just on the other side of the exam table and the other end of the leash.

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