Saturday, March 21, 2015

The Search Continues

Unfortunately, the new dog vet didn't work out for us, but at least Stewie is caught up on his vaccinations for the next year.  My husband feels that the vet he took Scrappy to when he had Giardia was the best.  It's just so far away and you have to take a really congested road to get there.  I keep thinking there's got to be some vet closer to home who I can tolerate, but it seems all the vets around here went to the same vet school -- the one that teaches them to put the fear of God into pet owners and drain their wallets with a lot of unnecessary tests and treatments.

Here were my issues with the new place:

1.  Tiny waiting area.  You have to be on guard so that your dog doesn't touch noses or get into a tussle with other dogs.  If worse comes to worse, you have to take your dog out into a supermarket parking lot.  I don't know why, but the majority of veterinary offices around here are little store fronts in strip malls.  Not very safe for animals with all the traffic.

2.  Only one vet and two technicians on staff.  The technicians doubled as receptionists, so we had to wait until they were done answering the phones in order to get into an examining room.  We finally saw the vet half an hour after our appointment and by that time we were the only clients in the place.

3.  They have an office cat that was loving on me, and I'm allergic to cats.

4.  Their walls were covered with educational posters that list all the things that can go wrong if you don't choose certain optional treatments for your pet.  It seemed like they were more interested in selling to our fears than in making us comfortable.

5.  The receptionist/technician verified with us four times which vaccinations we wanted until I was about to scream, "Can't you listen???", and then half an hour later she started pushing another vaccination.  I agreed to that one, which opened up the floodgates and then the vet swooped in and started adding more and more tests and vaccinations and procedures and surgeries in until I thought I was going to vomit.  I snapped at her and told her I wanted the three original vaccinations and nothing more when she tried to get me to sign a print out for several hundred dollars worth of services I did not intend to have done.

6.  She told us that Stewie had to have his baby teeth pulled after the vet at the low cost clinic said it wasn't necessary.  She also insisted that he had abnormal build up on his teeth and needed a cleaning.  He's only one and a half years old, for Pete's sake.  I owned dogs my whole life and they lived normal, happy, full lives without dental work.

7.  For every optional service I refused, she talked about the worst case scenarios with a scowl on her face, pushed educational pamphlets on me, and tried to make me feel guilty for neglecting my pet.  People should be praised for bringing their pets in for routine exams and vaccinations, because for every one who does that, there are more people who never take their pets to see a vet because they can't afford it.  Being shamed for protecting my wallet seems to be the norm in most vet offices now-a-days.  The way my husband sees it, some of these services vets try to sell us are like tornado insurance.  Can it happen?  Sure.  But can you afford the insurance, and is the pay off even guaranteed?  Sometimes you can spend more in insurance that it would cost to just deal with the problem when or if it arises.  Many of the options being pushed on me required multiple appointments, and I am desperately trying to free up my time -- not tighten the noose.  Vets sure can be like used car salesmen.  I feel like I need to take a shower after dealing with them.

8.  Stewie was so terrified that he ran a temperature.  I felt that both the technician and the vet handled him roughly.  For instance, the vet kept pulling on his legs and showing us how one of his knees pops in and out.  That's not necessary.  That's like hitting someone in the head and saying, "See?  He has a headache.  Here, I'll do it again just to be sure.  Yup, that's definitely a headache.  Let's schedule surgery."  Sometimes I feel like I'm in a mechanics shop instead of a veterinary clinic, and the name of the game is to point out as many potential problems as possible.

9.  They turned away a man who had an emergency because they were "all booked up".  However, they could have easily just given my dog his shots in five minutes and helped this man.  Instead, they chose to hold me hostage for an hour while they told me everything that exists on earth that could kill my dog and what I needed to do to fix it.  All the five star reviews on the Internet say that this vet really cares about the welfare of animals.  What I saw was that she cared more about money.

10.  I got on the freeway to get home, and got stuck in slow moving bumper-to-bumper traffic.  I had to get off at the next exit and take the side roads home.  Now you know why I am so adamant about not having to take freeways or busy roads to a vet's office.  You never know how much time you are going to need to get there and back.  Between the traffic and being held hostage while haggling over my dog's healthcare, I need to block out an entire afternoon.

I just want to find a vet who respects my choices and isn't always pushing the up-sell, but that's hard to find around here.  I miss my best vet in Nevada so much.  He actually did the down-sell.  He'd tell you your options, and then say, but this costs so much and it isn't guaranteed, so it's a bit of a risk...  He was also very practical about end of life choices.  He'd let you know how much the treatment was affecting the animal's quality of life and whether it was worth it.  He was into making humane decisions as opposed to guilting pet owners into doing everything to save a life at any expense.

I also want to find a vet who respects my time.  No means no.  If I say no, that does not mean it is time to start arguing with me.  I went in to get vaccinations, but what I got was a bunch of bullshit.  When the vet finally got around to administering the shots, it took her all of one minute.  So, why was I forced to say no for an hour to a bunch of other crap?  I think in the future I will need to verify in advance how long the appointment will take.  If I am told it will be any longer than 15 minutes, I'll make an appointment elsewhere.


TeresaA said...

wow that must be extremely frustrating. It would drive me bonkers as well.

Laura Lee said...

The vets in your area sound like they are CrAzY! They push dental work up here too and make you feel guilty and like a bad doggy mom if you don't pay for ALL the dumb services they offer. What happened to honesty and integrity??

Cheryl Ann said...

All the vets down here are in that insurance company. Frankly, I think it is a big scam. I take my dog to the animal clinic out in Thousand Palms for her shots once a year and that's IT. There is also a mobile vet up in Anza and she's new, so she's pretty good (so far...) I know how hard it is. They ALL want you to do the dental cleaning, etc...It's just about the money.
Cheryl Ann

Cut-N-Jump said...

There's a lot of the shots you can get at the drug store pharmacy and give them yourself. Cheaper, less stressful and a LOT less time consuming.

I know of two vet offices where they have been more than awesome to me and my dogs over the years. I'll give you their names when we meet up for the masks. They are both in their own buildings so no strip mall traffic to deal with.

Janice Grinyer said...

Out here, Dr. Randy comes to our place and does all the animals - it makes it very easy...are there any real farm vets in the area for you?

Mrs Shoes said...

My biggest pet peeve is vets who will happily dole out whatever I want for cattle or sheep (& just instruct how & what to use if needed), but who then turn around & think I'm a different, much DUMBER person when I direct care for my farmdogs & barncats!
How did my IQ drop so fast going from cow to dog, I always wonder!

My 2nd biggest pet peeve is vet techs who SHAME clients (even though they have NO idea what I just talked about with the VET) & who hold themselves as somehow morally superior to me because I actually atop to weigh the risks vs benefits of vaccines &/or treatments rather than just blindly let them yank 1/2 the perfectly healthy teeth out of my dogs mouth! (Just as an example.)

Have your ever read Terrierman's Daily Dose, Nuz? He wrote a pretty detailed article about this kind of stuff being a part of vet & vet tech schooling now (up-selling, marketing, etc).

I use a "farm vet" now for ALL of my animals - he actually gives me credit for having half a brain rather than shaming me into what I think is any wrong direction for me!!
His wife is his tech & receptionist; they attend a lot of ongoing training & are happy to present all sides of a thought & take my opinion into consideration in the end. I have never ONCE felt like they were giving me the hard sell (which I HATE).
They treat me with respect(!) & they have a LOYAL (& quick to recommend them too) client for as long as he is in practice.

Dealing with vets & (even more so) vet techs is the most aggravating part of having animals of any kind. JMHO.

Saiph A said...

I normally don't say anything when I read things like this post, and especially this comment, but it has been bothering me ever since, so I'm going to speak up.

I am a vet tech. I went to school for it and have a license. Of 25 people that started in my class, only 8 of us graduated: vet tech is HARD. We do what RNs do for a third of the pay. I started out in general practice, got bored with vaccines and dentals and since then have worked in specialty hospital ICUs and ERs for the last 8 years. It is rare for techs to stay in the field this long, though I have fellow coworkers that have been doing this for 15+ years and know more than a lot of vets. I am on the East Coast so I can't speak up for how things are in Arizona, but I have worked with vets from all over the country and I feel the need to defend them.

I did NOT take a single marketing class in school and I wish I'd had the option. The average vet tech that went to school has an associate's in science. We can do a Bachelor's instead (only a couple of schools in the ENTIRE COUNTRY offer vet tech Bachelor degrees) and choose to go for a major in business management, but I know ONE tech that chose that route, out of hundreds. None of the vets I have worked with has taken marketing classes either. Vets can elect to take business management courses while in school if they want to, but most of them don't, unless they were already planning on eventually having their own practice. Most of us hate talking finances with clients, vets and techs alike. I have personally taken a stand against management wanting techs to discuss estimates with clients, because it makes the techs look like "the bad guys" and clients often want further explanation from the vet anyway after seeing prices. So please don't lump us all together. I would never guilt a client into anything. I'll explain something the client has a question about because that is part of my job, but I'm not here to force anyone to do anything.

And FYI: the vast majority of techs have NOT gone to school: they are trained on the job by the vets they work for. Only a few states require credentialing (and thus a formal education.)

The average veterinarian these days finishes vet school with over $200,000 in debt + interest. Average veterinary salaries out of school are around $50,000/year and jobs are harder and harder to find these days as more and more vet schools keep popping out veterinarians with nowhere to go. A registered nurse just out of school makes more than a newly graduated vet. How do I know? I'm married to an RN. A veterinarian can expect to make up to $100,000/year if they specialize or become practice owners, which can take a very, very long time. Years. Sometimes over a decade, especially given the fact that they come out of school with so much debt that they are often paying over $2,000/month in student loan payments, which leaves no room for a mortgage, let alone a practice of their own.
I have a feeling this vet was a young one. How do I know that?
1. Strip mall location = lower rent.
2. 2 techs doubling as receptionists = saving money with minimal staff
3. She pushed for "the gold standard" estimate. A good doctor will present the gold standard and will let the client choose to not go that route without making them feel bad about it. I agree that this vet should not have been pushing for a surgery when all NM wanted was vaccines. Luxating patellas are not life-threatening by ANY means, and a lot of dogs out there have them for their entire lives and they are absolutely fine. I know vets that ignore the problem on their own dogs.

Saiph A said...

Older vets did not have the student loan problems that we see today in the newer generations. This is why the older vets can afford to give clients discounts or tell the clients that the sick animal will be fine eventually. This leads into the war between specialty practitioners and old-school general practitioners, but that's a whole other can of worms that I can't really talk about. I'm just going to say that a lot of times with this approach, the animals are fine. But there are times when the animal is not fine, when the owner would have liked to have known that there was a gold standard and it wasn't offered, and the animal dies unnecessarily.

In terms of pushing for dentals: the veterinary industry has finally recognized that we overvaccinate cats and dogs (I'm wondering when they'll recognize the same for horses???) and good vets are spacing out vaccines more and more. I have worked with vets that recommended NO vaccines after 7 years of age, other than the mandatory rabies. With more people choosing to spay and neuter at shelters due to the low cost (and yes, I'm one of those), vets have to make a living somehow. There ARE studies that have linked bad teeth to increased risk of heart disease. It's not a marketing ploy. Newer vets will present the dental option nowadays because it IS an option that exists. They might push for it, yes. But ultimately it is up to the owner to decide and the vet should be fine with the owner's decision.

Not all vets are cut out of the same mold. Vets are not "out to get" pet owners, guys. I'm sorry if some of you have had bad luck with vets, but veterinary medicine IS evolving because there are people out there that want the same standard of care for their pets as they do for themselves. Cost of veterinary medicine is proportionate to the cost of human medicine (BEFORE INSURANCE! Look at your health care invoices before your insurance discounts!) and as the cost of human medicine rises, so does the cost of veterinary medicine: most of the medications are the same! Vets would be out of business otherwise.

Nuzzling Muzzles said...

Saiph A - All very good points. Thanks for showing us the flip side of the coin. This vet was actually near retirement age, which gave me hope that she wouldn't push the up-sell, but she still did. It's good to know about the over-vaccination issue. I'm not denying the link between dental hygiene and heart disease. However, anesthesia and opening up the gums to let bacteria in also carry risks. I, personally, have not had good luck with dental surgery on my dogs. I also am fine with be presented the option of dental work, but once I say no, we need to move on. 9 times out of 10, when I take a dog in to a vet for a specific reason, my issues are ignored and I am forced to listen to person after person lecture me on dental work. It's quite extreme, and I'm sure how vets behave varies from one locale to another.

achieve1dream said...

I've had bad experiences with dental work for dogs too. I just have no desire to put my dog under anesthesia without a very good reason for doing so (spay/neuter). I would rather provide bones and brush his teeth myself than to take the risk. My vet doesn't push it though... I don't know why it's such a big deal in your area but I can definitely imagine it would get horribly annoying.

I really don't think they are trying to scaremonger.. I think it's just they are provided with all of this information, posters, brochures, etc. from the drug reps. Drug reps can be extremely pushy!! I worked at a vet and saw how that side of it is. Some of them do offer deals to vets for using their products, but even so I don't think vets should be so pushy. I guess I've been more fortunate in my area or maybe it's because I typically use a large animal vet for my horses and dogs? I don't know. I hope you can find one who listens and isn't pushy and is in a good location with good prices. It must be so frustrating!! The new vet where I moved to started in on the suggesting things I hadn't asked for last year when Jackal got bit by the coon and I straight up told him all I could afford that day was the exam and the rabies. He let it go at that. Then I had to turn around and spend three hundred dollars on my cat recently so he knows I'm not being stingy with my pets. If they won't listen when you say no, that won't work though. :(