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The Irreverent Vet Speaks Out: "Are You Just Going to Let My Dog Die"?

By: The Irreverent Veterinarian

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Every once in a while a vet hears this. I would venture to guess almost every vet in the country has heard this at one point in time or another.

"You don't care about pets! Are you just going to let my dog die?"

This is a situation no vet wants to be in, but nevertheless it occurs for a variety of reasons – the most common of which is that a pet is very sick and the owner cannot afford the treatment options.

Technicians get phone calls like this all the time. I recently stopped by the local emergency clinic and within 10 minutes a tech had received two of these calls. The first was about a dog that had been vomiting for five days (yes, that is not a typo – I did say five). The dog was very sick. From what the technician could tell from the phone call the dog was laying on his side, not moving, and he hadn't eaten for four days. At this point the dog was very weak and unable to walk. The technician recommended that the dog be evaluated immediately. Per hospital protocol, the tech told the caller the cost for the emergency fee and the initial evaluation, and that all treatments would be at an additional cost. Again, this is protocol. The caller asked if the hospital could treat the dog for free. The answer was no. Then the caller exploded, "You don't care about dogs! You are a B...! (Yes, she said that.) All you care about is money. Are you just going to let my dog die?" Then the caller hung up.

Within five minutes a second call came in about a puppy that sounded like he had parvovirus. This is a severe infection that basically attacks fast growing cells – in a puppy it strikes the lining of the stomach and the intestines, as well as the bone marrow (which makes the cells that fight infections). This makes Parvoviral Enteritis (Parvo) a very serious condition. It most frequently occurs in unvaccinated puppies. This particular puppy's owner had vaccinated the pup himself – using vaccines he had gotten at the feed store! (This is an entirely different Irreverent Vet topic. To read about it, go to : The Irreverent Vet Speaks on Owners That Want to Give Their Own Shots. Anyway, to make a long story short, this owner was also told the emergency fee (as per protocol). The owner started screaming (I could hear him through the phone 10 feet away). "You don't care about dogs. All you care about is money!" Blah, Blah, Blah. The technician was polite, suggesting other options and trying to hook the owner up with shelters and talk him through things he could do at home until he could see a vet. Then the tech discussed other options like finding a bank machine, borrowing from friends or using a credit card, but the dog's owner was still irate.

Holley mackerel. We are just trying to do our jobs.

Do you know how many cases we get like this every single day? Veterinary clinics are businesses, and like any other business we have bills to pay. If all we did was charity work, we would go out of business in no time and be unable to help ANY pets.

When you're hungry, you don't go to the grocery store and tell them you should get free groceries, do you? And you don't go to the car repair shop and demand that your car be fixed for free because you don't have the money, do you? You come up with the money to get your car fixed. You charge it, borrow it or do whatever it takes.

What Vets Want to Say ... But Don't

When a pet owner tells a vet, "You don't care about pets ... are you just going to let my pet die?" what we'd LIKE to say (but don't) is, "No, YOU are going to let your pet die."

The pet is YOUR responsibility – not ours. It is YOUR responsibly to feed, water, love and provide medical care your pet's needs. If you can't do that, YOU are the one who is letting your dog down.

My Final Thoughts on Owners That Say, "You Don't Care About My Dog"

I'm not trying to slam owners that don't have money. I totally understand that everyone has different resources, and that money is a big issue to most people. But don't blame the vet. Although I believe that everyone can benefit from the unconditional love and companionship of a pet – owning a pet can be expensive. Pet ownership does come with a responsibility to the pet. Just like kids, pets cost money. Don't have them if you can't afford to give them the care they need.

Disclaimer

The Irreverent Vet is a columnist that regularly contributes to PetPlace.com. The goal is to add a balanced and alternative view of some controversial pet issues. As happens with all of us, veterinarians can't always say what they really think without offending some clients. This commentary allows vets to say what they think and give you, the pet owner, the opportunity to consider another point of view. All opinions are those of the Irreverent Vet and not the views of PetPlace.com and are not endorsed by PetPlace.com.

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