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Complaints about Vets and $

post #1 of 24
Thread Starter 
I hope I can express my feelings about this without starting a fight or a flame war....

I also hope this is the right place for this if not pls. move or delete.

I have a new kitten and am living in a foreign country, so I've been hanging around this site for about a month or so. Generally, I feel that the people here are welcoming and interesting but there is one issue that bothers me. As someone who has worked at a Verterinary practice for several years (I was front desk not medical staff), I feel a bit of hostility directed at the veterinary profession.

I'm not talking about issues where someone feels a Vet has been incompetent. These issues are hard to judge long distance and I certainly think that some Vets may not be capable in all instances, and a client has the right to seek another opinion or go elsewhere.

My issue is with people compaining about a Vet or Vets in general when they cannot afford or didn't plan for an unexpected veterinary expense. Pets are expensive. If you can't come up with the money or a means to pay for the unexpected medical bills when they happen, maybe you shouldn't have a pet?

I firmly believe that pet ownership is a privilege. That 'free cat' not free. They've proven that a healthy cat costs about $700-$1000 annually to maintain/care for.

I've seen many posts where people complain of the 'fee at time of service' policies of many clinics. And direct their hostility at the Vet because they do not have the money for the care their animal's needs. I was also at the receiving end of this at the practice I worked for. The reason for these policies is simply that people don't pay their bills. If enough people do this that Vet goes out of business and then where do you take your beloved feline when he or she is sick? In my experience, Vets are not rolling in money. And their support staff makes even less (I made $10/hr not even enough for an apartment of my own!).

I understand people are very emotional about their pets particularly when they are sick, but please understand some of us are/were animal professionals and it hurts when you direct your hostility at us for thing over which we have no control. Rather than saying something like 'I can't believe that stupid vet won't see my sick cat because they won't let me pay in installments and I only have $50' why don't you be truthful about whose responsibility it is, and say something like 'I'm really upset with myself because I didn't have the money to take care of my cat when she got hurt/sick'.

Sorry if I offend anyone with my opinion, but this has been nagging me for a while now and I wanted to remind everyone that current and former veterinary professionals are listening to these discussions.
post #2 of 24
I dunno - my vet is pretty reasonable - Molly had a dental yesterday - her eye is still bad - he sent home some new meds to try for free on the condition I let them know how it works! If I bring more than 2 animals at once - it costs me $10/pet for an exam.

Truthfully? I haven't always had the $$. I've had several instances where I've had fosters who I end up having pricey vet bills for fosters, or else I euthanize them. I spent well over $5,000 by June of last year on 3 pets - one of them a foster. Am I still hurting from that financially? Yes.

I don't use this vet - but I have "Dr. Stupid" in town here - and you can have a large bill with him & pay $1 per month interest....this is so people with farm animals (cats, dogs, livestock) can afford the vet care - if they do not immediately have the $$.
post #3 of 24
Wow!!! Your vet is soooo cheap! Mine costs $56.00 each for an exam!
post #4 of 24
The cost of a vaccine is less than $1 and they charge $10-20 for it (my cheap vet charges $17)...I was just reading an article about that lol. I dunno I think that there are so many overpriced vets that it's reasonable to be unhappy with it. One vet wanted to charge me $120 for an FVRCP vaccine and office visit...I found a better vet but come on...that's ridiculous...
Like I was thinking there should be nurses who administer the shots because it's not necessary to have much expertise to administer a shot, i'm sure even I could do it with simple instructions..
post #5 of 24
Actually, I think you'll find most of us recomend a vet visit on a regular basis.

That said, cats have long been viewed as "free pets," and if they disappear, get hurt, get sick, or whatever, there are several hundred more available at the animal shelter for less than the cost of a basic vet office visit. People who would drop $1,000 on a dog often won't spend $100 on a cat.

And, to some extent, vets need to keep that in mind. Just as a guy will spend $32,000 for a Harley but complain about $12,000 for a comparable Kawasaki, a vet needs to understand that the "no pass" line for a cat in many families is much lower than for a dog. The same mechanic working at a Lexus dealer will get a lot more pay than one working at a Toyota dealer. It's just the way it is.

We always pay up front now, but we've been in situations where a $25 vet bill was a serious hardship. Had our first cat developed a serious problem while I was still in college, we would have had to scrape up the $10 to have him put to sleep, and that wouldn't have been easy.

It's true that pets cost money to care for, but keep in mind that many here have cats that they got "accidentally." They showed up stray, were given to them, were abandoned by roommates, and so on. So...should those people do the math and cough up just enough to have them put to sleep? Take them to the shelter, where the result is likely to be the same? Leave them outdoors to their own devices (again, the same result)? Try to give them to someone else (who also might not be able to afford them)?

So, a struggling student save a kitten, and the kitten gets ill. What do you suggest?
post #6 of 24
The vet that I go to seems expensive but I have checked around and they are in line with the other practices in the area. I don't feel any hostility towards the vet because of the costs. Vets go to school for a number of years and it isn't an easy program to go through. What I have seen of income comparisons, their average income is much lower than other professions requiring as much schooling. They also have business expenses to pay including people depending on them for their paychecks. Some people are not in a position to take care of their pets financially and you're right they shouldn't have pets. Sometimes too it's a matter of people's financial situation changing and they have pets to take care of. I think when they have a sick pet they get frustrated and scared because of their money situation and they misdirect that into anger at the vet for not taking care of their pet at a reduced cost.
post #7 of 24
Originally Posted by Lyrajean View Post
Rather than saying something like 'I can't believe that stupid vet won't see my sick cat because they won't let me pay in installments and I only have $50' why don't you be truthful about whose responsibility it is, and say something like 'I'm really upset with myself because I didn't have the money to take care of my cat when she got hurt/sick'.
These days though, it's a double edged sword.
With the economy they way it is, and jobs so very scarce, a lot of us have exhausted our savings.
Some are so depressed over their circumstances that having pets that depend on them is the only thing that keeps them going at all.
I am in that boat, as are my parents.
We both had substantial savings at the beginning of 2008, we have nothing now.

While I understand your frustration, you have to understand the frustrations of the millions of people who did save, who did scrape and who did plan ahead and are still left with barely a means to feed and shelter themselves and their pets.

Nothing is ever black and white, please, bear that in mind.
post #8 of 24
I have always had a vet that let me make payments if needed. I guess I could not be a vet and feel good about myself if I turned away some ones beloved pet because they didn't have the money in times of trouble.
Emergencies happen and with all good intent sometimes it happens at the wrong time. I know I have all good intentions for my pets and take good care of them. Emergencies come up in other areas of our lives where they can deplete your bank account too. I'm looking at both sides of what your saying and If I was a vet I certainly couldn't turn away an old lady who is on a fixed income and her cat/dog needs medical care or it will die. I would never feel right about myself again. I would certainly work something out with her. In this cold world we live in sometimes there needs to be more compassion for all.
post #9 of 24
Originally Posted by Arlyn View Post
These days though, it's a double edged sword.
With the economy they way it is, and jobs so very scarce, a lot of us have exhausted our savings.
Some are so depressed over their circumstances that having pets that depend on them is the only thing that keeps them going at all.
I am in that boat, as are my parents.
We both had substantial savings at the beginning of 2008, we have nothing now.

While I understand your frustration, you have to understand the frustrations of the millions of people who did save, who did scrape and who did plan ahead and are still left with barely a means to feed and shelter themselves and their pets.

Nothing is ever black and white, please, bear that in mind.

excellent post
post #10 of 24
My care credit is still full from over a year ago.
Meeko just had surgery on monday and Cleo was sick and Coco has bloodand urine tests this week.
My vet sometimes dosent charge me for everything.
She did not charge me to pull one of Meekos teeth.
She also did not harge for one of Cocos ultrasounds.
I have been going there over three years and they know us well.
My brothers cat had surgery for the same thing as Meeko but it was 1603.97.
Meeko was 467.10.
I have a Discover card I only use for the vet.
post #11 of 24
Originally Posted by mrblanche View Post
So, a struggling student save a kitten, and the kitten gets ill. What do you suggest?
My thoughts exactly...I am a student and it's really hard. And I have to pay so much money for my kitten to get his shots, four sets of shots three weeks apart, plus the neutering ..I think it's senseless for the vet to examine him every three weeks..Like for the first time, I understand. I saved my cat from going to shelter, my friends unspayed cat happened to get pregnant all the other kitties went to the shelter where they were most likely put to sleep. I wish I could have taken them all but I can barely afford one. I am saving some money in case of an emergency and putting them in a kitty jar right now. And as for those people who would spend less on cat rather than dog, I just don't get it!!! To me it's the same with any animal..
post #12 of 24
I think that you are going to come across many people who got a cat or pet when they knew they didn't have money to invest and when the time comes to fork out money they are going to put the blame any where they can but themselves.

But I also think that the majority of the people on TCS legitimately want to do what is best for the pets--thats why they are here and thats why they have 200+ posts not 5 or 10. I think that at least for those in the US the economy sucks and it is effecting everything. I work 4 hours a day and my husband is unemployed because his company had to cut back. Money is scarce not just for us but for my pets and regardless of how much I saved and planned my health comes first--we have no health insurance and I require medications that I cannot do without. No doctor is going to allow that to happen to me I guarantee it--but a vet would let my pet go without if I can't afford it. Why is that? Is their life any less important than mine?

I love my vet and have nothing against them, they dont over charge, they take care credit as well. But if I couldn't get care credit and couldn't pay otherwise, it'd be no skin off their back--my pet would probably by euthanized.

post #13 of 24
We are not rich by any means and can't afford much more than the basics. I had to call around to the different vets in town to find something I can afford. One of the vets that I called quoted me close to $700 for a new kitten visit, shots, and a spay. Yes, the place I ended up taking her to is very "assembly line", in a somewhat bad part of town, etc, but they did a good job, answered all my questions, and took care goodof my cat. I only paid $127 for shots, a spay, and licensing. Honestly we couldn't really even afford that, but at least I did the right thing as a cat owner and had it done. Most out there wouldn't even do that. I know my sister in law wouldn't. As a unemployed, stay at home mom with no friends I NEED my cat. If she gets sick I'm sure we would find the money somewhere.

I do find it absolutely ridiculous that some vets charge as much as they do, but at the same time people are free to choose the vet they want to go to (assuming you live in a town/city that offers you a choice).
post #14 of 24
I honestly think the outlook of "If you don't have the money to pay, you shouldn't get a pet" is an unfair one, to both beast and man.

True, if you don't have the resources and finances to take care of the basic needs of that pet, no, you have no reason to get a pet. You're right, a pet is a huge responsibility and a great privledge, a very rewarding one at that. I would not want to bring a pet into a situation where starving, dehydration, & no shelter was a possibility, that would be cruel.

However, I don't think it's true to say if something happens to that pet while it was in your care(fed properly, basic health care, water, shelter, etc) and in order to get that pet well the vet would be a costly bill; in that case to say you should have never had a pet in the first place if you can't be a large vet bill. IMHO that outlook is very inhumane. IMO it's basically saying the pet should either go to a wealthy home or stay in that cage at the shelter and wait til it's time is up and be euthanized. How insane is that? Most people have the finances to provide basic care, but in an event of illness are scared and frustrated at the fact that their furbaby is very ill and due to the restraints of $$$, that pet may not get the best care for that illness. It's a scary thing to face, I've been there. But I had to realize I did my best with what I had; without me that pet would not have lived a happy life in a home where he was cared for and loved. That happened when I was younger and still living with my dad and brothers, now that I'm married and have a family of my own, I'm going to try my best to avoid that tragic circumstance. You live, you learn.

True, some people just don't need to throw a hissy fit when they just bought a young kitten into a situation where basic needs cannot be met. That's their fault, not the vet. On the other hand, for those who did right by their pets, I believe they are scared and hurt, and should dry out all resources to get that pet helped. A pet is a great gift to deny someone, just because they don't have a surplus of savings.
post #15 of 24
I believe there are different kind of vets..for whatever reason....My old vet worked with me...I had a very sick cat and in the end spend 1000's in one year keeping him alive....but because I had been going to him for yrs with alot of pets...HE would ALWAYS do what was best for the cat....if at the time money was tight..he would give me little breaks on things and let me make payments...NEVER did I get turned away cause I couldn't pay upfront in advance...He has since retired and I miss him ALOT...the vets I see now....there is NO payment plan...there is NO breaks...like wanting me to pay $3 for one pill and a $20/25 dispensing fee...when I had the cat in there not a week b4 and spent $350 ...for the same thing....Things like that is where I do the complaining...Those little breaks is all I would ask for...I have no problem in paying my bills...I think they are expensive...my vet now charges $60...just to walk into the place..my old vet b4 he retired was 35...Not everyone has $1000 in their pockets to a vet bill...why can't they take 2 or 3 payments in 30 days ?
post #16 of 24
I know all too well how quickly vet bills can skyrocket. My Buster went
into the hospital last Tuesday . . . by Thursday evening, our bill was just
under $1,600.

What's unreal is that one month ago when Buster went in for his
annual physical, I saw some brochures about pet health insurance
and almost suggested to hubby that we look into it.

Sure do wish we did now! But, hey . . . of course, Buster is worth
every cent. It's money we just don't really have, so we got a small
personal loan.
post #17 of 24
My vet here in France is wonderful on payments - they rarely charge me a consultancy fee, just for the meds if they are needed. And at one of Harry's recent visits I had two vets and the vet tech/nurse working on him for over half an hour. Twice I have had ultrasounds at no charge, and they did not charge me for the necropsy on Nutkin nor for the PTS of Harry. Harry was also kept at the vet's apartment for three days at no cost to me. But I have nonetheless paid them a fortune over the last three years, with all the animals' needs. I am just thankful that they are so flexible and willing as my income has decreased by over 40% in the last year, with the exchange rate between the pound and the euro going down, and life is difficult.
post #18 of 24
I think most people who enter the veterinary field do so because they love animals. Like with people in general, there are good ones and bad ones. I imagine that every good vet has agonized at some point in their career over what is best for the animals. In my opinion, the only sane approach is to do what is best for all of the animals you care for. Is it fair to the vet and all of the vet techs if they have to go the week with no pay? Is it fair to all of the other customers if they either have to pay extra or find another vet because this one closed? I'm sure that in most cases they'd like to be able to take credit, but most have probably been burned quite a few times by people who said they'd pay but were never able to (or didn't intend to in the first place).

The best analogy I can think of is this: You have 10 cats and 1 gets sick. You have a choice of either having the cat put to sleep and paying your rent or having the vet fix your cat up and ending up living out on the street. Would you really be making life better for your cats collectively if they all end up on the street or in the shelter?
post #19 of 24
When I got my two cats as kittens I figured I would have years of good health and fully expected to be able to pay for all the usual kitty maintenance stuff, no problem. What I did not expect was to spend thousands of dollars trying to figure out what was wrong with them. I didn't expect to max out all of my credit cards and savings. Thank goodness my Vet is willing to let me make payments because it has now gotten to the point of either that or not making payments on other stuff and thier issues are probably going to be life long. If a vet is not willing to take payments then they should have other alternatives available, charitable contribution fund, credit company, something. Emergencies happen to everyone, rich and poor, and you should not have have a beloved animal put to sleep because you are struggling. Vets have the same options as Drs. for those that don't pay, collection agencies, courts etc. What happens if you have a child and that child has some disability or health problem that is not covered by insurance and you can't afford to pay for, are you going to put them to sleep?
If my Vet, or my Dr put me in that position I would have to find a different one.
post #20 of 24
I have had the same vet clinic for 25 years and the same vet for about 12 years. They were my vets when I had the farm and operate a small and large animal practice which means they also have Evet services. We discuss everything BEFORE we do it. If something is astronomically expensive, the pet is aged and the prognosis is not good we discuss the whole business before I say "go ahead..."

I just went thru something with a 13 year old cat. Her blood work says she ought to live another 13 years. She is hyperthyroid and was tolerating methimizole well. She has no cancerous lesions either palpable or showing in Xray. Suddenly she stopped eating. We think it is pancreatitis. Blood testing for this along with treatment for this and the reserach surrounding both things is inconclusive. We elected to do neither thing as the cost is high, the cat is getting up there in age and the test and treatment isn't truly proven by good clinical research with double blind repeatable studies.

We are treating her with steroids and her apetite is back and now it is a matter of time. Fact is, sometimes that is the treatment "tincture of Time."

I appreciate my Vet's candor and his input. Not all vets are as honest and not all vets have the excellant surgical skills of my vet.

For instance.. my cat has hyperthyroidism and treatment is R I 131. problem is, the two vets who have the handling down for this (radioactive stuff) have decided to make this their living.. and they are living very well. Their practices litterally consist of high tech clinis thruout my state and adjoining states. ALL they do is give Radioactive Iodine shots and deal with the low level radioactive waste after.. and the requirements of the NRC and the States. These are SubQ shots.. not IV not even IM.. SQ!!!!!!

There are enough cats and enough people with money to pay the $2k per shot for this.

I am not one of those people. My vet will perform a thyroidectomy preserving the parathyroids for about 1/4 of the cost of a less invasive proceedure (a shot).

My vet was a student under one of these guys and went to vet school with the other guy. He said they were in vet school to come out and make money with the least amount of effort on their part and they have been wildly successful. As he said.. you should see where they live and what they drive.

There are costs that are reasonable and customary and I agree that a pet owner needs to perpare for those things.

There are also people in any profession who are money grubbing and could care less if they are helping their patients.

I have just described both sides of that situation.
post #21 of 24
I must say I'm impressed with the way you Americans take care of your pets. I live in Mexico and we aren't poor by any means, we are actually in a very privileged position, and there's no way that we pay hundreds of dollars per cat per year. For my 2 female cats (one common and the other looks like a Persian) I buy around 18 lb. food bags for something like 8 USD each from Costco, so that's like 16 USD a year for food. For vet care the older one was sick like 1 year ago and had to be taken in for a few days, and even after all that the price was around 100 USD. Apart from that she didn't go to the vet since like 2002 and just went a few days ago for the rabies shot. The other one also got the rabies shot a few days back and apart from that it was 2 years since her last vet visit. The new Himalayan will probably cost in food around 150 USD per year max plus the vaccines. Vets here are cheap usually. I think for my 8 year old female I've used around 200 USD max for her whole life in medical care (vaccines, one period of sickness and sterilization). For my 2 year old semi-Persian it's been like 50 USD max and for the 6 month Himalayan like 10 USD. I don't know for you guys, but here we probably would never have to ask for loans or something for vet care, it seems like something otherwordly to imagine struggling to pay the bills, even as we are right now just paying little amounts from time to time my father says like: oh that's really expensive my God, even though it doesn't affect our ability to get other things at all. It's probably the cultures and everything, in the US the vet facilities are like doctor facilities, with a desk person and everything, and they take care of animals just like they do with their children, here it is more like secondary, though we do whatever the vet says is best for our pets. Anyway, when I get a job and leave my home I will definitely take care of my pets the American way! Extra question: why are people against the vaccine for Feline Leukemia? I've given it to my 3 cats.
post #22 of 24
Originally Posted by ricardo222222 View Post
It's probably the cultures and everything, in the US the vet facilities are like doctor facilities, with a desk person and everything, and they take care of animals just like they do with their children, here it is more like secondary, though we do whatever the vet says is best for our pets. .
Yea, I can somewhat relate...My grandparents who grew up on farms in Bulgaria can never understand why people spend so much money on their pets, they see death for an animal as natural and there is no need to intervene, even though they love them they don't mourn. I guess living on a farm gives you a different perspective of things, like they don't really see animals as pets they see them as income ..
post #23 of 24
My cats and dog get better care than I do ... Now I have spent a BIG wad of $$$ of diagnosis and care but I have also set my boundries of what I will spend... I have Care credit for one vet and the other let me makes at will payments since that yr my two animals racked up about 5000 in vet bills
post #24 of 24
I can see both sides of this issue. I agree that people who can’t afford for the basic needs of an animal don’t need to have one. When you decide to adopt a new cat into your home you need to be prepared to provide for its needs - quality food, litter, toys, and basic veterinary care. If you cannot budget for these things, then having a pet should be reconsidered.

I don’t believe that just because you don’t have thousands of extra dollars to liquidate at any moment for emergency vet costs means you aren’t a great pet owner. I know from personal experience that circumstances change. Business ventures fail, people are laid off from work, accidents and sicknesses happen and well planned savings are decimated just trying to get by with the day to day. A lot of people DO have the money to afford whatever may come regarding vet care when they get their pets, but cats can live 20 years and a lot changes in that kind of time. With the homeless pet problem we have today I believe it is better for an animal to be in a loving home with someone who is doing their very best for them than to be out on the street or in an already overcrowded shelter.

A lot of vets out there charge ridiculous fees, and do it far more than is absolutely necessary. They know the pet owners love their animals and are going to do whatever is necessary for them if at all possible, including putting themselves into major debt to do it. If those fees were really necessary to cover the cost of the care with a reasonable margin of profit so that the vet could upkeep his practice and pay decent salaries, I would have no problem with them. But really all it is doing is lining greedy pockets. When they want to charge you $100 just to take your cat out of the carrier and stick a thermometer in his butt, another $100 before you get shots or anything else, and are more than likely going to try to convince you to run a whole string of tests that are entirely unnecessary just to run up the bill, then the vet is looking to make money and not for the best interest of the animals, and I believe the pet owners have every right to complain.

I am blessed to have a wonderful vet practice that I have been going to since I was a child. They do not charge office fees, they accept payments if the bill is just too high, and they are very candid with you about exactly what your pet needs rather than just running every test in the book so they can charge you for it. The annual exam at my vet for each of my cats with fecal, and shots (incl. rabies) costs me $50, and when its time for antibiotics, they charge me only slightly above their cost. And yet the doctors there can live a decent life, pay the office staff and maintain a nice office without taking their clients to the cleaners every time they go. It is from this example I see the truth in what other vet practices are doing, and avoid going to them if at all possible.

In response to the OP’s concern - when we are frustrated with our vets I think TCS members probably do need to remember that Vets and Veterinary Employees ARE reading here too and they love animals just like everyone else on these boards or they wouldn’t do what they do. At the same time, those Vets and Employees need to take what is said here with a grain of salt – unless we are clients of your practice, it isn’t a personal attack on you. A lot of places earn our frustration when it comes to our kitties, and we have the right to talk about that here.

(I apologize to all for my novel…)
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