Saturday, April 21, 2012

WHAT? You Need A New Vet? A Pet Parents Guide To Making A Hard Decision Easier.

I suppose there are a few justifiable reasons why I would lose a client; moving, specialty referral, or you decide to get a pet Boa Constrictor (I don't do snakes).

But admittedly, I am not the perfect vet for every client. I have learned to accept this. Every vet  has their own areas of interest, strengths, and limitations. Trying to be everything to everyone is not possible.

I have clients tell me that they are moving, and regrettably, need to find a new vet closer to their new home. I too have had the unfortunate task of driving my kitties to the Vet. I too hate hearing their incessant pleadings to be "let out of the torture chamber!" I too empathize with having my cat stuck in the carrier in the car, screaming those blood curdling, gurgling, guttural green-mile desperate calls. Only to be followed by vomiting and blow-out diarrhea. I know taking your pet to the Vet can be very stressful on everyone involved. I know we all try to make that trip as short as possible. I wouldn't want to drive my cats an hour away for their routine Vet visits, so sometimes it is necessary to say goodbye to one vet and start a search for another.

In my life before I was a Vet, when I had just moved to Blacksburg, Va. I went to three different vets before I found one that I both liked and trusted. I started my search in the phone book, (ah, the good ole days of phone books), and found a vet 2 miles from my house. I made my first appointment with him. It was a small single doctor practice. When I arrived with my cat I was put in a tiny closet sized exam room, "Very homey," I thought, "but that's OK." When the vet started his exam he started by picking up my small 6 pound cat and then they both got on the scale together. OK, this was a problem. How can you get an accurate weight this way? I mean what if he just had an especially big lunch? Or what if my cat lost a half a pound, (this is significant if you only weigh 6 pounds), and you take her half pound because you just ate 2 double whoppers? This guy was out. He was a cheap, old-timer, BUT, I had high standards and my cats were very, very, important to me.

Back to the phone book.

Vet number two had a nicer practice. Well, not by leaps or bounds, but, nicer. When I arrived there were about a dozen people in his reception area. "OK!" good sign! He is popular! People like him! I had come to inquire about some motion sickness medicine for one of my cats that I wanted to bring to see him. Belle got terribly car sick every time she went anywhere. I remember one time she had diarrhea all over my boyfriend in the exam room. He was NOT happy. Lesson learned; Always keep your cat in the carrier! Until the vet takes them out.

As I inquired about some sedation for my cat, the receptionist said to me, "Hold on honey, I'll be right back." A few minutes later she came back to me and said, "Here you go, give this to your cat and then come on in." I was pretty sure she had done the prescription herself because I had seen the vet go into an exam room and I know she didn't go in to ask him. But the real icing on the cake was when she checked me out and said, "$1.13, Honey."

"What!, a dollar?" I said. Now I knew why the reception area was so busy.

"Please tell the vet that he is part of the reason this profession is stuck in the dark ages. How am I ever going to pay back my student loans from vet school when other vets charge a dollar for a prescription?!"

She had no idea what hit her, and I was sort of a little taken back by my own vigorous reply. I never went back. I was a little embarrassed, and I didn't want my kitties to be getting anesthetized by a rag soaked in ether.

My third attempt was a whole 35 minutes away from my home. I actually passed 4 other vets to get to them. I decided on this clinic because they were open 7 days a week, (big sigh of relief for me, I always seemed to need them Sunday mornings), and had 5 doctors on staff. The clinic was always clean, smelled clean, and they had 4 clinic cats that littered the front desk like old fat men at a brothel.

So I know first hand how hard and tedious it can be to find just the perfect match for not only you, but your pets.

On Wednesday afternoon one of my technicians came to me saying that there was "an appointment here who wanted to interview me."

OK, I had never heard this one before. I stopped and looked at them quizzically. "Umm... What?"

She replied. "There is a women in Room 2 who made an appointment to interview the doctors because she needs a new vet. But she wants to interview the clinics first."

"OK," I said very enthusiastically.

I went into the exam room and said "Hello."

I was greeted with a firm handshake from a well dressed middle aged woman holding three large binders.

Maybe my technician confused "client" with "reporter" I thought?

She introduced herself and said, "After many years I am in the market for a new vet because my old vet only works fours hours a week now. He is moving towards retirement. He is now in his eighties."

"Good for him," I responded. (OMG, 80's?).

"Do you mind if I ask where you live?" I said.

"I live in Delta."

"I do too, I just think it is helpful to start looking close to home." She nodded in agreement.

She then pulled a magazine out of one of her binders. "Do you mind if I ask you a few questions? I just read this article in the Reader's Digest."

She handed me the copy. The article was entitled "50 Secrets Your Vet Won't Tell You."

So began the interview.

I picked up my own copy of the Reader's Digest the next day. I was happy to see that each of the 50 "Secrets" were submitted by veterinarians. It's actually a very good article. I would suggest you all query your vet about it. Many of these "Secrets" will tell you a lot about your vet and the practice you are supporting. But many of these "secrets" don't have cut and dry answers.

I didn't charge her for the interview. It was too entertaining and it appeared to me that this woman loves her pets, wants the best for them, and she is on a very tight budget.

I'll let you know if I ever see her again.

I think I am going to blog on every one of these "Secrets".

A great article on how this fellow blogger dealt with having to find a new Vet.


  1. Hi Y'all,

    Just saw you had a new post in Reader and took a sec to stop by to say "hi" and see how y'all are doing. BOL!

    I've been around the vet circuit! Course I live in 2 different places, so I have a local vet in each place. I also have a specialist that is a long drive. My Human checked out several vets.

    My Human and I are looking forward to hearing more from you on the Readers Digest article.

    Hope y'all are having a great weekend!

    Y'all come by now,
    Hawk aka BrownDog

  2. We already got the perfect vet. Now I just dread him retiring or us moving.

  3. The first "We Couldn't Make This Up" = good doggie ;P