There are certainly times that I feel are appropriate to take the bull by the horns. Last week, 20/20 did a report about unscrupulous practices among veterinarians, with the premise of protecting pets and owners from unnecessary procedures.
The show used two dogs as examples. They were examined by a reputable, well-respected veterinarian in NYC and deemed healthy and normal. They were then taken to other veterinary hospitals to see what the vets would recommend. Some vets gave them the all-clear. One recommended a dental cleaning procedure. Another recommended vaccinations for the dogs, which were actually NOT due for vaccines.
The report available to read online implied that the dental cleaning and vaccines were unnecessary. The undercover camera work showed the veterinarian that was recommending unnecessary vaccines — and in this case, I might agree. Now, it’s somewhat foolish of me to comment on the full dental exam and the condition of the undercover dogs’ teeth. In the half-second glimpse that was shown of one of the dogs, there wasn’t enough time to fully evaluate. Interestingly enough, I saw two things that make me VERY curious about how the full exam looked.
The vet that was featured in the report was asked several leading questions by the interviewer. He said that he was pressured by his former boss to rely upon the pet owners’ fears to push for unnecessary procedures that would profit the practice. He also said that when he owned a practice, he did the same thing, in order to cover his overhead and costs. (Some of that was in the written article I read online.)
So, what gives? Is this guy really a crusader for pets? Is he looking out for owners and animals from the pure desire to help? I did some digging of my own. You can indeed get a lot of information for free from Dr. Jones’ website. You have to sign up for his email list to get most of it. Other information you have to pay for. He has a book now in its second edition. The e-book version on Amazon was $47. You can also order additional epubs from his website, for a price.
Dr. Jones says that owners need to go into veterinary hospitals because they’re a business, and businesses operate for profit. True enough, we do. So does everywhere else that you purchase products or services. Even human hospitals are for-profit.
Dr. Jones and I agree about a lot of the things he’s saying. I read through one full introductory publication from him as well as the highlights from another (about examining and healing pets at home). Supposedly, over the next several days, I’ll be receiving more free insights into his current practice strategy of holistic, homeopathic, and free-at-home veterinary care. He advises that owners seek veterinary care in many instances. In others, he’s relying on his texts to teach owners to evaluate their pets at home and decide what their condition is, to help them know when to see the vet and when not to.
This all makes me pretty upset. There are indeed unscrupulous vets out there. There are unscrupulous people in all professions. What I don’t like is the tone of the reporting. It seems to operate from a “guilty until proven innocent” strategy. Most of the vets I know are good people that are looking out for the pets first and foremost. We’re not out there deliberately gouging pocketbooks and we sure as heck aren’t putting pets through unnecessary treatments.
Dr. Jones’ advice about how to evaluate a good hospital sets out criteria that Pet Authority meets (or exceeds!). I’m proud of that. I’m angry that I have to say that as a defense of our work.
Speaking personally, my clients come to trust me over time because we build the understanding that I’m looking out for them and their pets in every aspect of their veterinary health care. I’ve talked a lot about trust during the visit with other posts, so I won’t belabor it again here.
All that I ask of my readers today is to weigh things fairly. Weigh them and ask questions rather than assuming the worst. For me, the pets come first. Always have, always will.