Thursday, March 6, 2008

Where's the Vet?

Have you ever had to play a game of "Where's the Vet?" It seems each time I call for an appointment with a vet, they change the rules of the game. I suspect that the rapid increase in population is forcing these changes in the rules.

Ten years ago I could call for a vet just to get some routine vaccinations, and he'd show up to my ranch within a few hours. Eventually, appointments started getting booked out a few days, then weeks. One time I called and was told that it is difficult for the vets to do ranch visits, so I should trailer my horses in to their clinic. The doc was nice enough to give the horses their shots through the trailer windows, so I didn't have to unload them. The next time, however, I was required to unload them.

Soon I was being told that it is difficult to even set up an appointment at the clinic, and I would need to trailer my horses to the fairgrounds where the vets were doing mass immunizations, teeth floats, and sheath cleanings. What an ordeal! My husband, kids, horses and I stood in line for hours. After all the sedatives, we had to wait another hour to get the horses to wake up so that we could load them into the trailer. This was before my vets started using those shots that reverse the effects of sedatives.

Last year, after the population dropped a bit most likely due to the housing crisis, I was able to get a ranch visit like the good old days. I called today to get another ranch visit, and things sounded promising until I told the receptionist that I needed an appointment on the weekend. "We don't do ranch visits on the weekends," she said.

"You don't? You used to," I said with a tinge of annoyance in my voice, hoping that would be enough to break her.

Sure enough, she broke the rule for me, but I have to wait three weeks and there's always the chance they may have to reschedule if there's an emergency. I'll take what I can get. It's better than spending an entire weekend trailering three horses with a two-horse trailer to and from the clinic, then to and from again, or using up my vacation time to take a weekday off from work. I really do prefer ranch visits. They are so much more relaxing and you can get to know your vet better without other people constantly interrupting. I suspect the doctors like them better too. At least they never seem to be in any big hurry to leave my place when they do come.


On The Bit said...

That sounds terrible...I am lucky (and spoiled) to be in such a horsey area...I was seeing my vet every week, sometimes twice when my horse was first injured. He was great to come out whenever I called. I think 24 hours is a long time to wait to see the vet on a non-emergency call. In an emergency I expect less than 2.5 hours (that is about how far he has to drive sometimes). We make the appointment for spring shots early though because we have a ton of horses who react so we always plan to do it the day before he has a light day. Just in case he has to come back. I am glad that they are coming out to your farm on the weekend this year at least!

BrownEyedCowgirls said...

I am on the opposite end of the spectrum from On The Bit. We called every vet within a 70 mile radius last May when my old mare was having trouble foaling. They all wanted us to load her up and haul her to them-Huh? She was down and straining...don't think that was an option. The last one I finally got on the phone was good enough to walk us through pulling the colt, but it was too late.
Around here the only time a vet will show up on your place is if you are preg-testing at least 50 cows.
There are good vets around, they just won't come to you, irregardless of the emergency. If you can't get that horse/cow/dog/cat to them, you are SOL.

Beth said...

I would never be able to live without farm visits. My vets will come out for one horse! But I use a big clinic...15 vets or so, but I can request who I want for a routine visit. Just never know with emergencies.

Rising Rainbow said...

It's been like this in my area for a while. The only farm calls many vets make are to the big training facilities.

Fortunately, I am on a first name basis with my vet. I met him when my twins were born. He was so impressed by my efforts to save them that he has a lot of respect for me so I no longer have problems getting a vet anymore. I even have his home phone number instead of dealing with an answering service.

Twinville said...

It's interesting to read how horse vetting is in other parts of the country. Thanks for sharing your experiences.

jdp said...

That is ridiculous! I, too, am spoiled by being close to a Vet Teaching Hospital, so we get ranch calls whenever needed. I can't imagine trailering my horse for shots! And then waiting for hours... grr!

Nuzzling Muzzles said...

Based on your comments, I looked around to see who was from where, expecting that all the west coast states would have problems with getting a vet due to a rise in population growth in recent years, but it appears to be a little more random than that.

Anonymous said...

I'm here in Mass and have always had vets come out to the barn. I can't imagine trailering for spring shots! The only time I've trailered a horse to a vet was for specialty work--either to a lameness expert or last summer when my horse needed surgery for some tumours. It's amazing the difference around the country.

Also, is it routine to tranquilize horses for routine vaccinations and teeth floating? None of my horses have ever been tranqu'ed for these things.


Nuzzling Muzzles said...

Ann -- The vets here don't sedate for vaccinations, but they do for teeth floating. I don't know if it is routine or if they just choose to do it if the horse is nervous. My horses get nervous because I've failed to expose them to a lot of different things -- something I hope to change this year.