I made a note to read this article from USA Today some time ago and never did. I discovered my note today and thought I’d share the article here:
In a veterinary environment, such whining takes on very specific forms. In an effort to exorcise the demons of a difficult week (and for your infotainment, of course), here’s a list of the 10 most common pet owner complaints I hear:
• The free pet wail. “This FREE (fill in the blank species) is costing me hundreds of dollars!”
Need I explain why this grievance grates like nails on a chalkboard?
• Dental extraction denial.
“But I’ve had dogs my entire life and none has ever needed all this expensive dentistry — and all those extractions!”
Are you sure about that?
These owners want their pets to keep all their teeth but they’re unwilling or unable to do what’s necessary to mitigate the root cause: periodontal disease. Nor are they willing to accept that diseases sometimes truly are beyond our control.
• The sick pet protest.
A corollary to No. 2: “Why do all my pets get sick? How can this be? What are you going to do about it? Why isn’t he getting any better?” Which I can only answer, “With your help, we will do our utmost to get your pets well again. We can only do as much as our technology and your cooperation (funds, sometimes) allows.”
I understand this one, really I do. Partly because my family is commonly afflicted with all kinds of bizarre and stressful issues that aren’t always treatable. But to effectively lodge a complaint against the veterinarian, as if it’s the vet’s fault that your pet has X disease (as many clients are wont to do) is completely unfair and highly counterproductive.
• The obesity whine.
“But she eats almost nothing! How am I supposed to get her to lose weight?”
I don’t know, but something about her waistline tells me you’re feeding her too much, regardless of what you consider a reasonable volume.
• The lost hair lament.
“You did NOT clip the hair between her toes!” or “Did you have to take off all that hair just to ultrasound her belly?”
Step away from the ledge and get a grip: It’s just hair!
• She’s been vomiting for two weeks but I need an appointment NOW.
It might be easy to say, “Your emergency is not our problem!” But the reality is, it is, seeing as it’s not the patient’s fault his owner waited until the last minute.
• I found her by the side of the road … is it OK if I just leave her here?
Much as I would like to help you (and I will), this is not a shelter. I expect you to do your part, too.
• “I need a payment plan …”
Which is a perfectly acceptable request that most of us can accommodate in some form or another (CareCredit is the one our hospital uses). But expecting the payment plan of your choice is another story. After all, a veterinary hospital shouldn’t have to play health care provider and banker.
• The pet shop puppy nightmare.
You might be surprised by all the negativity I get from some owners as I explain the many problems their “well-researched” Internet purchase or “high quality” (read: expensive) pet shop puppy possesses. Everything from congenital eye diseases and heart murmurs to hereditary hip and knee diseases … people can get kind of testy.
But I’m just the messenger!
• Impatience is not a virtue.
When you show up 20 minutes after your appointment and expect to be seen quickly … well, let’s just say your expectations are unrealistic.
So can you tell I’ve had a bad week? Even so, perhaps I should take my own advice and keep my grumblings to myself.
But then, it’s probably already too late for that.
This vet’s views on the 10 most common pet owner complaints sound pretty spot on.
Do you agree?