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Daniel

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At the checkout counter at the vet's office today, I handed my husband $170 in cash before the total was announced (for a routine wellness visit, including two vaccines and a nail trim). He said "I'm sure it won't be this much." Total was $164 :D

(The vaccine boosters are for three years. But if a vet tech makes $20 an hour, they have to work all day for such quick, basic wellness services.)
 
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Regarding emergency funds, many Americans don't have enough for their own healthcare, like for high-cost deductibles:


"America's debt crisis is driven by a simple reality: Half of U.S. adults don't have the cash to cover an unexpected $500 health care bill."
 

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From 2007:


“This blatantly anti-competitive regulation serves the sole purpose of maximizing the incomes of largely untrained, unqualified, ill-equipped veterinarians at the expense of horse owners and Texas entrepreneurs.”

Carl Mitz is a third-generation horseman with customers in 30 states. He has treated the teeth of more than 100,000 horses and is recognized as the nation’s premier equine dental practitioner for miniature horses. Dena Corbin is president of North Texas Equine Dentistry and has provided dental services to approximately 15,000 horses. Randy Riedinger has floated the teeth of more than 40,000 horses; his long-time customers include celebrities such as 11-time World Champion Barrel Racer Charmayne James, Phil Rapp, Bob Avila and several top teams in the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association. Brady George has spent decades raising horses and has treated more than 2,500.

"I’ve been a horseman as long as I’ve been a man, and I’ve never met a veterinarian adequate in equine dentistry,” said Gary Barnes, who hires Carl Mitz to treat the horses on his 60-acre ranch in Tolar, Texas, and whose father and grandfather were veterinarians. Carl’s services are an integral part of Gary’s business because his horses perform and must have healthy and well-maintained teeth to accept the bit and receive instructions in driving competitions.

Independent and self-reliant Texans have been taking care of their horses for a long time without unnecessary government meddling. Yet Texas, along with a handful of other states, recently outlawed the occupation of equine dental practitioner. The Texas State Board of Veterinary Medical Examiners is demanding that Texas equine dental practitioners spend more than $100,000 and four years at veterinary school, where they would learn next to nothing about caring for horses’ teeth, or else abandon their profession.
 
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...Her stay racked up some serious costs: more than $3,100 at the Pet Emergency Clinic and another $1,000 for an outside ultrasound she had been referred for, Rall says.

The final diagnosis? Maya likely ate too much food, had acid reflux and needed time to digest.

By the time Rall got her back, the arthritic dog could barely move, had chewed a patch of fur off near her tail, and had ripped out one of her claws trying to get out of her kennel...

"The prices go up, quality goes down, and you're stuck with it. Those are the dangers of monopolies."
 
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"We have priced ourselves out of access for many pet owners," he said. "Aren't we obligated to find a way to serve those animals?"

In his eyes, the midlevel professional could also help whittle away at another challenge for the profession: lack of diversity. He said individuals from underrepresented groups often look at the debt-to-income ratio in veterinary medicine and decide to forgo the profession despite their interest in the field. A master's degree leading into an extender position could provide a more appealing entry point.
 

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Also on the positive side, public awareness can only increase about ways of preventing emergency conditions in dogs such as bloat, dog being injured by one's own car in the driveway, urinary blockages in male cats, etc.

Regardless of being positive or negative, Google reviews for vet offices and vet ERs can partly accomplish this -- as do TV vet shows, pet parent blogs, etc.
 
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It’s often said that “the standard of care is a moving target,” and nowhere is that more true than in veterinary medicine. Over the last ten years, the level of care available to pets has skyrocketed. We’ve become more accepting of the need for pain management in pets, realized that we were probably vaccinating more than we need to, and recognized that good oral health is critical for good health in general...

Because while the health insurance industry and legal system have a strong hand in determining the standard of care for your two-legged family members, it’s still really up to each veterinarian to determine what theirs will be for the four-legged ones...

It’s not unusual to find vets who have exceptionally high standards in one area of practice and at the same time seem to have standards left over from the 1970’s in others.
 
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90% of saddle thrombus cases have underlying heart disease...

Some heart conditions do not make themselves known through physical examination and laboratory testing.

“Performing a cardiac ultrasound is sometimes the only way we can determine this. EKGs are often inconclusive in these cases, though that may have helped,” she conceded. “It’s just not yet part of our standard screening for cats. Not when everything else checks out fine.

Our job now is to decide how we treat this. Why don’t we focus on that for the moment?” she urges.

That’s when she gives you a couple of choices:

1) Immediate intensive care at the specialty hospital where they’ll place her in an oxygen cage and supply drugs to support the heart, treat the congestive failure and blood thinners to help dissolve the clot.

Here she’ll receive more imaging (a cardiac ultrasound and perhaps a CT scan) and more labwork. In 35-40% of treated cases (typically if they're treated early on), cats will recover well enough from the damage done to their nerves (a result of the poor blood supply) to use their hind legs again. Because of her congestive heart failure, however, her chances are slimmer than that. She may well die during treatment.

Surgery can sometimes be effective when 1) we catch these cases very early on (within hours), 2) when there's not another clot within the patient's heart potentially waiting to imminently dislodge itself, and 3) when the cat isn't in congestive heart failure. In this case surgery’s not likely an option due to her congestive heart failure and the fact that this happened sometime overnight. But it may still be worth a shot. It all depends on the facility's capabilities and your surgeon's aggressive tendencies.

And…

2) Euthanasia.

“That’s it? I have no other choices? Can’t I give her medications and treat her at home?” At least she can die in peace in familiar surroundings, you reason. “Or perhaps you could treat her here?”

But your vet is firm on this. “There’s no way to responsibly manage her severe pain without electing for definitive treatment,” she offers. “You have to be willing to choose one path or the other. There’s no middle ground here. It’s Saturday," she goes on to explain. "We have no 24-hour care. This is a serious condition I could treat with halfway measures to some effect but I’d be doing Kitty a huge disservice. Even if I could get her well again the pain relief she requires means continuous monitoring. I know you don’t want her to suffer so I’m giving it to you straight. You have no other choices.”

In the end you drive her to the specialty hospital where she dies overnight in spite of the internal medicine specialist’s best efforts. A complication of her kidneys and her heart failure, you’re told, since lab tests revealed her kidneys also received a clot.
 
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Daniel

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What can you do if you suspects your veterinarian has committed malpractice?

You have several different courses of action available to you if you suspect your companion animal was injured or killed due to veterinary malpractice.
  • You can send a complaint to your state veterinary licensing board. State licensing boards have the power to suspend or revoke a veterinarian’s license, although this rarely happens.
  • You may also want to sue the veterinarian in a court of law.
  • A lawyer can negotiate a settlement or bring a lawsuit. Please see our page on the Stages of a Civil Trial for more.
  • Another option is pursuing your case in small claims court.
    • The advantages of small claims court is that you do not need a lawyer — in some states you are in fact prohibited from bringing a lawyer to small claims court — and the cases move much more quickly than in other courts.
    • However, the amount of money you can receive in small claims court will be smaller than in other courts.
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Case in point:


I had to sue Dr Koster for malpractice and I won. I then reported the case to the Colorado State Veterinary Medical Board and they revoked his license for 6 months because of what he did. What did he do? He said he did orthopedic surgery on my dog and actually didn't. Look him up though the Department of Regulatory Agencies before trusting your pet to his care.
 
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Daniel

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More reasons to not trust vets or to at least read reviews...

From some negative reviews for a single animal clinic in Hamilton, Ontario (rated 3.6/5 on Google Reviews):


Took my teacup chihuahua puppy there when he was lethargic, the vet tried telling us the puppy had internal bleeding with zero evidence, he told us our puppy would most likely not make it and I would have to hospitalize him with a bill close to $2,000.... Turns out he was just low on blood sugar and needed some corn syrup in his mouth and to just continuously do it.

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When my partner and i pulled into the parking lot our dog was running away from the vet techs. We managed to get him back and relax him as he was shaking in fear. I had asked what happened and the vet tech told me that she had LOST HOLD OF HIS LEASH AND HE STARTED TO RUN. If we had not pulled into the parking lot when we did our dog would've been missing or would've been hit by a car. After everything was completed and we got the dog back in the car, they still had the AUDACITY TO CHARGE ME $400 FOR A BLOOD WORK TEST. The situation was handled horribly and the staff seemed to have little to no care in the world that they had almost lost my dog.

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Vet barely looked at him and sent us on our way with an infected incision. Then refused to touch him because he was barking. He was in pain and It is your job to care for sick animals...

I am not confident in her ability as a vet. I would not recommend this clinic to anyone I know. I have also met a ton of people who have had similar issues here. I understand human error, don’t get me wrong. But this is 3 different animals on quite a few different occasions.

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LEASE READ THE BAD REVIEWS BEFORE BRINGING YOUR ANIMALS HERE!!!! MY CAT DIED AFTER THEIR VISIT HERE!!! I don’t know where to start.. I brought both my cat and dog in yesterday night for flea treatment. They applied treatment to both my pets and I bought an extra month supply for both of them. I mentioned to the vet or assistant that my cat is 16 years old and If it is safe for her.. she assured me it would be. This morning I woke up to my cat dead. I called and they said it is impossible for the medication to cause death and that it is probably because she is 16. My cat was very healthy and never had any health concerns. It could have been a human error such as the assistant applying the dog medication on my cat by mistake or her not being weighed properly.. either way, her death was sudden. They also did not do blood work to make sure her organs were working properly, or even examine her for fleas. I asked if I could return the Unused tubes since I obviously won’t be using them anymore and they said no. Telling everyone about my experience here. I wish i read all these bad reviews before bringing my cat here.

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My friends cat went to this hospital cause the cat broken his leg, he broke his leg in shock, the doctor said the diagnosis shows that there was no big problem, so they give him a special bandage and let the owner bring the cat home. However, after a week, she noticed that the bandage was bleeding and went to another vet, she sent the X-ray to a Mississauga vet as a specialist. Specialist said it was too serious and missed the best treatment period. The cat returned to vet and into an operation, and amputating the leg. HE LOST HIS LEG BECAUSE OF THIS VET!

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I brought him to a professional place to have his nails trimmed so I wouldn’t accidentally hurt him at home... however, I got my dog back gushing blood and in pain.

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A couple days later when we called to get the meds we were told no because a blood test for her levels WAS NOT DONE. My question is what was the blood that was taken for??!? And why did we have a bill for $280 and no meds for our 16 year old dog that the VET could not be bothered to meet or be there for the appointment. We will NEVER bring our dog back here ... EVER!

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We dealt with Dr. Mogavero. One of the most unprofessional veterinarians. He assessed our cat for maybe 20 seconds. Then he did not properly complete the stitches in a very simple operation, so we had to go back in and have him re-do it. When we went back to fix the stitches he did not tell us anything that was going on. He just sent his assistant to take our cat and he began re-stitching her without any freezing or something for pain. Our cat was very loudly in pain and we did not know anything that was going on. Then after he acted as if it was our fault like we were a nuisance to him taking up his time, when he clearly botched the first operation. I cannot speak about other veterinarians there, but if you go to this clinic and he is the vet, I would strongly suggest leaving. His manners and work were extremely unprofessional.

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Refusing to give me my dog. I called 911...Two police responded because your staff was screaming at me. I couldn't even hear the dispatcher.
 
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Daniel

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My latest rants after dealing with another vet today (though my expectations are so low now, that I am just glad when it's over):

Too many pets still die due to a lack of pet parent education. While it's important to educate clients about flea and tick prevention, millions of dogs are run over each year. Yet not one vet has ever asked if I have a fence or keep track of my dogs.

As a group, vets seem very insular. Vets have little interest in helping vet techs advancing professionally or educating clients about preventing deadly problems like bloat or hit-by-car. "They are also significantly less likely to be...agreeable than the general population."

Vets often seem unsupportive to their own employees:


More and more on social media, technicians, assistants and customer service representatives are posting about the lack of respect they receive from their veterinarian colleagues, as though their value and humanity are an afterthought.

At the animal hospital I go to, I was shocked to read the job description at Indeed for ancillary staff, which included being able to work with "disgruntled" coworkers.

Though they complain of cyberbullying (what most people would call negative reviews), they have lobbyists to protect the worst among them:

Sadly, the bills were never even read. They were completely ignored, such is the strength of lobbyists in this industry.
 
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A representative review for a less-than-stellar (super greedy) vet oncologist in Los Angeles:

Dr. Lyons acts real "neutral" to pet parents during the initial consult -- emphasizing that while he cannot "guarantee results" he feels all tumors are worth paying $15K to try "zapping." He will also be sugary sweet at first going into the procedure. Once the pet parent learns that the SRS [radiation] was a massive failure, Dr. Lyons is no longer accessible anymore. He claims he doesn't have the answers to your questions. He gets real lazy with his advice -- he kept telling me to double, triple, and quadruple the doses of Prednisolone over the phone!

Having consulted with two world-renowned brain specialists for humans afterwards, I learned that Dr. Lyons should NEVER have performed SRS on my dog's trigeminal nerve tumor, and he should have been more realistic with me. I will never, ever forget this experience and hope no one else will go through this with their furry children.
 
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Daniel

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The trustworthy veterinarian knows he doesn't know everything. No one is omniscient. I have no problem with that. While I would assume any veterinarian knows a great deal more than I do about general medical issues relating to pets, I don't expect him to be an expert on every single medication, condition or obscure article in a medical journal.

But when I ask him a question he can't answer I do expect him to respond by saying, "I don't know, let me check on that." Veterinarians who try to bluff to preserve their authority, or worse, imply you're being fussy, bothersome or over-protective for asking in the first place, don't deserve your trust.
 

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I think most of us will agree that the relationship between veterinary professionals and the public is broken. But like any relationship, it’s two-sided. And we need to work on our side if we’re going to save it

If we want clients to bring their pets to us, we need to be welcoming.

If we want clients to respect us, we need to respect them.

If we want clients to trust us, we need to earn their trust.


Continuing to blame clients for our unhappiness only further breaks down their trust in us and exacerbates the problem.
 

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"Listening is the most prominent strategy used to gain trust with people in which the veterinarian does not have an established relationship."
 
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From a book by an internal medicine vet, who thinks people generally need higher -- not lower -- expectations of vets. A recurring theme in the book:

"What is more important, your dog's health or your veterinarian's feelings?"

Her other book, also published in 2011:



A review of Speaking for Spot:

"Could save you thousands of dollars and give you the tools to prevent the heartache that comes with making uninformed or rushed decisions about your dog's health care." —Linda Tellington-Jones


About the author:

"Dr. Kay was selected as the 2011 Leo K. Bustad Companion Animal Veterinarian of the Year, an award presented every year by the American Veterinary Medical Association to a veterinarian whose work exemplifies and promotes the human animal bond."
 
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