I’m working hard to reuse, reduce and budget every cent and hour of my day. Key to my happiness is the health of my housemates. Alice and Dahlia are due for heartworm meds. Though I administer them year-round (where are the mosquitos in January??), I can’t buy more until they have had their annual exam and a test for heartworm. Then there is the cost of the meds themselves. All this will conservatively cost me $400. I don’t begrudge the money. I just have to consider the cost. When did the veterinary industry become so greedy?
The the sixties and early seventies, we had lots of animals. At least two dogs, a cat, horses, and sheep. Our vet was an elderly gentleman of epic medical proportions. My brother, Duncan, was so inspired to follow in his foot-steps, he worked for “Conny” all through high school. Corneilius Thibearult, DVM died three years after Duncan, at the age of 83. Tufts University School of Veterinary Medicine named its equine medical clinic at Grafton in his honor in 1983. In his later years he was crotchety, riddled with arthritis, and reduced his practice to small animals at his clinic in Ipswich, MA. Yet, I remember clearly his barn calls at our small farm and his patience with our questions and ignorance. At one point he gave my mother a small vial of chloroform to ease the death of barn kittens who were mortally injured.
When we bought the farm in Lunenburg, we were lucky enough to find Craig Smith from Nashoba Valley Veterinary Hospital. Craig was newly minted from the University of Pennsylvania and the kindest human I have ever met. He wept with me when we finally had to administer that loving shot to a pet, be it a horse or a dog. His barn calls were all-inclusive; cats, dogs, ferrets, horses. Everyone with four legs was a patient of Craig’s and he knew them all by name. The expenses for drugs were always reduced if he knew we could order a vaccine or medication online cheaper than he could offer. He trusted me to not “cry wolf” and when I had a true emergency he was there. And he wasn’t afraid to say, “I don’t know but I’ll find out.” I asked him during an early visit for a small vial of chloroform. He laughed and said, “Even I can’t get my hands on that anymore, I guess some parents were using it as sleep aid for their kids!”
So today, as I made the appointment for my dogs semi-annual visit, I thought back on the veterinary industry and I became really sad and disappointed. I went through my past receipts and calculated how much this simple preventive appointment was going to cost. Then my bff Lauren came to the rescue. She uses the same vet, who will remain nameless. Her two dogs had just been there for the same appointment. She had two packages of heart worm medication that the vet had marked as expiring in April of this year. They wouldn’t administer the test until she purchased new drugs. Lauren donated the expired packages to me. I opened the boxes and found the manufacturers expiration date on both is January 2016.
The lobby and waiting room of this practice is beautifully decorated in fine wood with lots of glass and huge green plants, three receptionist are on the desk at all times, numerous vet techs rush in and out of examining rooms, shuffling patients. The place is nicer than my own doctor’s office. Computers spit out detailed pages of each pet’s medical history complete with the lists of medical procedures and due dates. All of this takes a lot of cash flow.
I know I’m going to get some heat on this rant from friends who work for veterinarians or veterinary drug companies. The rabies clinics at the feed store and the cut-rate veterinary services of places like Pet Smart are under fire from the INDUSTRY. I’m sure I’m not alone in considering how to afford basic care for my pets. If people are going to find the money to take care of their loved ones in this economy, big business is going to have to wake up to the humanitarian role, rather than building its bottom line. When did they become so greedy???