Don’t Be the Straw! – Challenges of Animal Healthcare

It was a back and forth decision about opening with this story. I have hundreds of notes and ideas of things I want to talk about and share with you; and #splat I open with a rant/review/vent session about (the lack of) quality pet health care options in this city – correction – nationwide.

There’s a deeper part to this story that ultimately became the deciding factor in my choosing it to be the opening story to share with you, and it has nothing to do with pet health! – Go Figure!  All that said, let’s move beyond the wordy introduction and get right to it!

Keeping it all real, we love our fur babies.  Some jokingly love their four-legged children more than their human kids! (For the record, we chose to forego the latter and just enjoy the company of our fur baby, so we don’t have to choose between the two!

Meet our fur babies!

Anyone who adores their pets knows the pressure (both emotional and financial) of finding quality and affordable healthcare for them. Now I’ve lived in 3 states, on two different coasts, and my experience has been similar across the board – pardon me for making a sweeping generalization based on the cities I’ve lived in.

The American veterinary system is a cock of money-hungry crooked thieves; so much so I’d almost rather vote for Donald Trump rather than deal with the political games pet clinics force us to contend with.

I learned while living in Las Vegas that 99% of all of the animal hospitals in the city there were owned by an umbrella organization. (This is an unverified fact). The science to it was that they all charged highly unreasonable fees which kept you from ‘shopping the market’.  Animal healthcare is much like human dentistry – very much ‘cash and carry’, high profit, minimal regulation – this allowed these so-called animal hospitals to operate a virtual monopoly. Long lost are the days of bringing your beloved fur baby in for a $35 rabies vaccination.

Fortunately in Las Vegas I found through a friend’s referral a small, truly ‘hole in the wall’ animal hospital on W. Sahara Ave that operated independently with just one doctor as a private practice. There, we enjoyed reasonably rates, honest opinions, and respectful responses to my wishes not to ‘over-vaccinate’ our babies. (More about vaccinations in a later post).

Now, being back in Boston, I’ve found a similar struggle under different circumstances. The first hospital I tried (let’s refer to this one as hospital #2), I liked, although a big over-priced (in my opinion), but quality. The only thing that kept me from returning was the commute to get there and it’s proximity to public transportation. (Fur babies are allowed on the public transit system here, so we take advantage of that)

Next we transferred services to another animal hospital (we will call this hospital #3) – that I found exceptional – albeit very ‘corporate’ and reminded me of the animal hospital ‘enterprise’ that I grew familiar with in Las Vegas. By the time we started patronizing this doctor, my fur baby has been on a ‘lifetime’ prescription for a skin condition. I understood this doctors need to re-check and even test my baby to confirm so I obliged their requirement and paid their fees. To my surprise, this animal hospital, after two months indicated we had to come back for another re-check and re-test – for a medication that again, is a lifetime prescription, taken daily, and has been taken daily for nearly a year. We bumped into a scheduling conflict and I quickly moved on a colleagues recommendation of a small ‘hole in the wall’ clinic nearby.

(Moving on to hospital #4) – Again, obliging to this clinic/doctor’s desire to test and monitor for his own validation, we agreed to subdue and pay for the onset of testing, as this doctor indicated we could extend re-checks out to every six months (better than two months).  During this time, a nationwide shortage on our medication by mail order had taken hold; not two days later this particular doctor raised their prices by over a $1 per pill and added a ‘dispensing fee’ to each Rx, citing (and this is a quote) “This is just how it is”.  When I picked up the what was the final refill patronizing this clinic, even the clerk noted the owner was a ‘bitch’. I concurred and thanked her for her honesty.

I contacted the staff at hospital #3 to get an appointment for yet another re-check and refill our prescription. AFTER  A MONTH of rescheduled appointments (
due to their office failing to correctly staff a doctor on the scheduled days), they refused to offer a refill of enough meds  to just get the puppy by until the next available appointment.

Finally after a lengthy conversation with an absolutely useless receptionist who began literally laughing at our situation, I closed the conversation by advising her I found zero humor in the scenario and didn’t appreciate the laughter during my valuable time on the phone.

Now desperate for a vet to keep my baby’s medication current,  I found myself reaching back out to hospital #2 again.  They were able to get me right in and remained helpful and sympathetic to our situation.  I’m excited to get back to where it all started and regret jumping to the not-so greener grass on the other side.

Our fur baby playing dead

All that said – how does this relate to my journey worthy of your valuable time reading this?  I’m glad you asked! There was a day, not long ago that my conversations and e-mail communications with hospitals #3 and #4 would not only have been hurtful and energy draining; not only for me but for the poor receptionist I would have taken my fury out on.

To have reached a point in my own growth cycle where I’m able to keep my cool, not yell, scream, and make the person I’m taking my anger out on cry is a major milestone in my life.

I could give you the standard ‘its not the receptionists fault, and you
shouldn’t tell at him/her’, or ‘You (I) just need to learn to control your emotions and temper better’ – Well no shit, Sherlock!  Thanks for stating the obvious.

Here’s the take-away.  Instead of acknowledging the obvious which will generally get you no where the next time a challenging situation arises, ask yourself a few questions:

“How much of my hard-earned energy is this circumstance worth”

“Am I in a position this very moment to be guaranteed to get what I want no matter the expense of belittling or bullying of anyone in my way; and is that worth the result?”

Now think about how much energy you burn when y
ou’re mad at your close friend, partner or family member, and how much effort you put forth in STAYING angry.The human mind naturally ‘forgives and forgets’; it’s our pride that refuses. One true statement from the Christian Bible is ‘Pride goeth before the fall’ – LET IT GO!

Lastly, if you really think about it, the answer to the second question is unequivocally NO – It’s not worth it; for a very simple reason. You have no knowledge what that person (or people are dealing with on a personal level at the current time. Think back to your most vulnerable moment if your life; (perhaps the loss of a loved one, or a pet, a horrible fight with your partner – anything) – that one moment that being poked with a piece of straw would have pushed you over the edge.

I urge you – don’t be the piece of straw for that person!



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