Friday, September 5, 2014

Burnt Out From Being Burned

I had a wonderful lunch meeting yesterday with a woman with as much passion and determination as I have for changing the face of availability in veterinary care and in affordability.

Never go into business with someone who doesn't love a pet.
They  will never understand the nuances or repercussions business decision's on the life of a companion.
For more information on Electronic Vet Billing options here. 
It was such a breath of fresh air. I had lost much of the wind in my sails over the last few weeks. It is the life of a veterinarian who works too hard trying to will the world into manifesting the destinies you yearn for them. It is also the ups and downs of owning your own business, where people who you believe truly give a damn about you, and their pets, turn out to be disappointing dirt bags.

If people asked me what the single biggest obstacle to pet care is I would state, "lack of responsible pet ownership." Now we could argue and debate all day as to what this means specifically, but as the provider of advice, expertise, and care to large numbers of pets and their people I would say clearly and forcefully that it is NOT THE EXPENSE OF CARE that limits pets getting the help they need. Because if you truly believed that, there would not be so many people making such poor life choices. It is our uniform goal at my clinic to be accessible, affordable, and full service. There are very few instances where care at our clinic is in excess of $800. That's not to balk at eight hundred dollars as chump change, but can you imagine having an open abdominal surgery under anesthesia for less than a thousand dollars? Should you decide to go price shopping we are routinely about half of the price of those around us. It almost is irrelevant in too many cases how much something costs at my clinic. Unless the treatment options are under $50 to $100 dollars a significant number of people will tell me that they "cannot afford to treat their pet." Sure, there are some clients who use a "budget" as a nice way of declining care. There are others who simply choose to invest elsewhere, a car, a phone, an addiction. It is real-life. It is the worst advice I ever got whispering in my ear, the nagging incessant reminder that I invest too much of myself in my inescapable admission to loving a pet more than the owner does.

I don't live in the world of negligence and self-serving, I live in the world of "my pets are my kids, my responsibility and my obligation to do right by." I am not alone. But, I am not stooping to serve those who dispose of a pet when the cable bill is due.

Here's where the dilemma of poor people with poor choices becomes the bane of my existence.

The inevitable arrival of a dying pet who needs immediate assistance and an owner with a sad story and $50 cash to their name. They can't get credit, they don't have a friend to ask for help, (the list of reasons and excuses goes on and on), until you realize that you are merely wasting your time, getting nowhere, and witnessing the last few grains of sand slip through the pets depleted hour glass.

Do you think that you could walk away? Do you think that these kinds of cases won't haunt you? Ask yourself what would you do?

It has  become my latest obsessive mission to figure out how to manage these cases and get to a happy ending.

I used to be interested in providing a place where people could find pet care regardless of where they live. I've done that. solves that. My quest has turned into "providing a method to get those in need the resources to get their pet treated."

How can I take what I know about social media, crowd funding, crowd sourcing, medicine, veterinary critical care, and create an innovative, effective, engine to serve the financial needs of pets?

In the last month the crew at the clinic have joined together to help 4 desperate dying pets. The owners all shared a desire to get help and a complete lack of available reserves to provide it. No credit, no emergency fund, and a list of excuses. All of these pets would have died if they had not been treated immediately. And most of them would have had been turned away at every other clinic they walked into.

I made myself a promise a long time ago, that I would not turn away a pet in need based on lack of funds. It's an almost impossible promise to keep. It requires that I cut needed corners, bend all comfortable decisions, and prepare myself mentally and emotionally to get burned. Its not the bending the list of ideal diagnostics, and preferred treatment options that is causing me to question y ability to continue this credo, it's the getting fed a load of crap, a boatload of promises, and being lied to your face. There seems to be no shame in lying, in mis-leading and in screwing a person who saved your pets life. It sucks to care more than the owner does and be screwed repeatedly. Of all of those cases not one person has shown up to put their money where their mouth is.

The one dog, the one case, that shaped everything.
Is there a little voice in the back of my head every single time I let someone pay us back later? Yes, of course there is. Do I still struggle to say, "I'm sorry I am not willing to help you at your pets most desperate hour," Yes. I really do. I'd rather be disappointed in the failure of others than abandon a pet in need.

So with that said, I know I cannot turn my back on a pet who will die without me, now all I have to do is figure out a way to not feel or be screwed. I always said I love a challenge. So here I go world,, I've been burned, I am bitter about it, but I'm determined...

I have a plan,, I'll let you know how it goes..

If you have a pet question to ask, or a lifetime of pet loving lessons to share please visit me on We are a community of pet lovers who can help you take better care of your pet. And, best of all we are always free to use!

Or visit me on Twitter @FreePetAdvice, or at the clinic, Jarrettsville Vet, in Jarrettsville, MD., where new payment plans will soon be in place.


  1. I've got my fingers crossed for you!

    1. Thanks!!! Sometimes just a few tiny words of encouragement are all anyone needs to keep the wind in their sails! I sincerely appreciate it!
      Have a wonderful weekend!

  2. It's hard to know how much is our responsibility and how much is pet owner's. There's no way to will ourselves to not bear guilt even when we know the ball was in their court. I keep thinking the solution is in what we can do about the system of pet ownership and care.

    I'm really curious about what else you have in the works. I keep believing there are ways to do good in the world and do right by the world without sacrificing our sanity and livelihood.

    1. Oh SISTER! you said it! I know I am not alone on feeling frustrated by the lack of apparent responsibility and ability to provide needed care, especially in those immediate emergency cases.
      I have an in-house plan in the works, and from there I'm going to do my darnedest to create a revolutionary innovative approach and system to getting almost immediate funds into pet parents pockets for those 2 am bloat cases at he ER that cost $3K.
      Stay tuned!
      And as always,
      Many Thanks for reading, and for keeping me in such supportive good company.
      Take Care,

  3. I'm an animal control officer. If people asked me what the single biggest obstacle I dealt with in my job I would also say "lack of responsible pet ownership." I'm burned out too. I see those same people for different reasons. I don't have any sage words for you. Sorry. But please know that you're not alone and believe that somehow, someway you're making a difference. It works for me (most of the time). I also find comfort in wine, brownies and profanity.

    1. Hello Kelley,
      I can't even imagine how you do that job. I would be overdosed on my comfort foods, and my profanity is already at sailor-worthy skyrocketed proportions! I have great respect for you, and all that you do every single day. Should you ever be in my neck of the woods please stop by for a hug and a brownie!
      Many BIG thanks for reading and for putting a BIG smile on this burnt face.
      Take Care, Chin Up. Press On. and Bottoms Up!

  4. Krista, thank you for writing this, and not just because you mentioned what I am trying to do to help responsible pet owners. And I repeat, responsible. However, the responsible ones aren't the problem. Please consider me part of your "army" in creating a revolutionary approach to assisting pet parents dealing with the $3K, 2 AM bloat case. I am deeply committed to making a difference when it comes to these situations. So much so, it infuriates me when people tell me I can't. Sorry, I don't believe them. :-) Perhaps that is why one of my favorite quotes is "One person can make a difference, and everyone should try" (John F. Kennedy.) EVERYONE SHOULD TRY! Thank you for doing more than your part. :-)

    1. Hello!
      I am so happy to have met you and so inspired to be surrounded by so many determined people looking to help pets in more innovative ways.
      I agree with you, "CAN'T" is not a word that I recognize in my vocabulary, especially when it pertains to pet care. I sincerely hope that your business makes many more happy endings possible. Thanks for helping us get it in place at the clinic. You know me, I'll be blogging about the stories as they unfold.
      Many Thanks again!

  5. Hi there VetChangesWorld! I follow you on Twitter and love what you are doing, too. Yay for you!!