I Pit Two Clueless Pet Owners (Long with Whining)

To completely appreciate my issues with these people- both occurred in the middle of a huge rush of patients (with clients who actually do care about them!) and both conversations took me several minutes to end. I’m usually pretty good at cutting to the chase but I just couldn’t today…

Idiot #1

Ok… I understand you “love” your little Maltese dog. You love her so much that she hasn’t seen us (her veterinary hospital) for over 3 years. Today you were worried enough about her to call us and report that she was “lethargic and not eating”. Otherwise known as AN EMERGENCY! :smack: . Unfortunately, we were completely booked today so I advised that you take her to the ER Clinic. Our conversation went a little like this…

CPO (clueless pet owner)- Do you think I should go? She’s shaking and panting really hard.

Me: Well, it’s up to you, but if she were my dog and she wasn’t eating (granted none of my dogs have voluntarily missed a meal) and was just laying around, I’d have a vet look at her ASAP. Plus, shaking and panting indicate she’s painful or uncomfortable.

CPO- But… I don’t know… how old do Malteses usually get?

Me: Small dogs live longer- about 13-14 years or so.

CPO- In human years?

Me: In real years.

CPO: So, she’s 9 so how old does that make her.

Me: 9 :smack:

CPO: Well… she’s just laying around.

Me: Then she should go to the ER clinic.

CPO: She’s a Maltese though, they aren’t very playful anyways.

Me: Only you can judge if she is not acting normal. I can’t help you with that over the phone.

CPO: Can I come in Monday? How much will it cost?

Me: Yes, but you should know that you have a previous balance for missing your last two appointments. Your vet will probably want to do bloodwork & X-rays, starting at about $200. Plus, if she is painful, not eating and lethargic, she may not be able to wait till Monday.

CPO: REEEAAAALLLLYY??? I cancelled those appointments. And I don’t have any money.

Me: No, you didn’t (I remembered because we asked everyone to pay attention to it on the second missed appointment because we were hoping you’d get mad and go somewhere else!) and check out Care Credit.

CPO: Do you think I should wait till Monday?

Me: ARRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRGH!!! Not to be short with you but its a very busy Saturday and your choices are this. Go to the ER Clinic or come to us on Monday. End of story.

CPO: Can I bring my other dog on Monday?

Idiot #2
CPO #2- I have an old Bichon… she’s peeing all over the house and tries to dig out of the yard. Is she going senile?

Me: How old is she?

CPO #2- I don’t know… about six.

Me: That’s not very old, sounds like she could have a urinary infection or something. Would you like to make an appointment?

CPO #2: I don’t know… I talked to my friends who had Bichons and they all had to get rid of them eventually because of the peeing. She’s very stubborn. She’s just staring out me from outside and won’t come in.

Me: Well, Bichons are known for having a predisposition to bladder stones, that could explain the peeing in the house. Would you like to make an appointment?

CPO #2: She spent time at my ex-husband’s house last week. I don’t know “what” kind of things go on there.

Me: Can’t help you with that (except I didn’t say that- I did get the impression she may have been abused).

CPO#2: I think he spoils her.

Me: Oh dear God. I really can’t help you with that.

CPO#2: I don’t want to spend any money on this old dog. How much will the exam cost?

Me: $39 for the exam, at least $55 for the urinanalysis. If there is more the doctor will have to quote you.

CPO #2: Can’t you just tell me what’s wrong with her- she was just there!

Me: She was here 3 months ago for problems with her skin. This is a new problem and will require the doctor to look at her.

CPO #2: Well…are you sure I have to bring her in???

Me: :smack:

I feel your pain. It never failed to amaze me how many pet owners would expect a receptionist to be able to diagnose a pet’s medical problem over the phone.

Arrrgh. At least my vets may only laugh at me for being TOO cautious, and going broke for it…

That’s pretty typical. We finally got ourselves a magic 8-ball. Unfortunately we can’t really say to the clients that the Magic 8-ball says “All signs point to yes” when they ask if they should bring their pet in, but it makes us feel better.

Heck, I’ve talked to parents that acted much the same. They call into the ICU to find out if their unconscious child was faking.
I, at least, had the option of calling 911 to send someone out to check.

“Old” dog??? For Og’s sake, a Bichon Frise lives about 12–15 years on average, and this stupid bitch (the owner, not the dog) is tired of spending money on one that’s only six?!

Yeah, I’d be trying to dig out of the yard too if I were at the mercy of a clueless, heartless moron who was clearly thinking about dumping me in the prime of my life. I’d probably pee all over her house as well, come to that. Let’s hope that this idiot owner does decide to dump the dog, so that a better person will have a chance to adopt it.

Maltese aren’t playful? Since when? The three my parents had were very playful. In fact, they usually couldn’t get in enough playtime in the day, so they had to put in another shift at night!

Some people shouldn’t have pets. Or kids, either.

Ding! Ding! Ding!
And the depressing thing: These conversations still represent the more responsible pet owners - they’re at least thinking about getting thier pets some kind of medical care. There are people who refuse to spend any money on medical care for thier pets. (Can’t prove that about kids, but I suspect there are people like that, too.)

Those are pretty bad.

My favorite so far was the hunters who drove 2 hours to see us, past other perfectly good veterinary clinics, with their dog who had been picked up and shaken by a bear. The vet took a look, determined that the dog’s skin, although still sitting on the dog, was no longer attached to its body, and gave them a quote of roughly $1000. They took the dog home. Claimed that they’d had dogs who were tore up worse and this one would be fine.

Too many people suck.

Why yes, this is a my-story-is-worse contest. Why do you ask?

It is people like them that make me wonder whether I should go into small animal practice.

From my experience working with vets, the good owners do outnumber the bad - but it will also depend on where you practice. I can tell horror stories about cruelty and neglect, but the stories about dedicated, responsible, loving pet owners outnumber them.

The good thing about small animal practice is that if you are in a town with an emergency clinic, you won’t get calls in the middle of the night.

She’s probably pinin’ for Valletta harbor.

Yeah, right on. This is how my conversations with the vet go:

Vet: There may be something possibly maybe wrong, most likely non-life threatening and we probably won’t find anything but it wouldn’t hurt to run some tests.

Me: Ok here’s my credit card.

I’ve heard the real money these days is in large animal practice. Something about more women than men going into veterinary medicine these days and the large majority of them wanting to do small animal practice only so that there’s now a real lack of large animal vets. (No cite, sorry, heard it on All Things Considered a few weeks back.) I bet you rarely hear stories like the ones in the OP with horses, cattle, and the like, considering how expensive those animals are in comparison to most household pets.

My only issue with this is that if the animal was in pain, it should have been put down. I think it’s appropriate to make treatment decisions for animals based on the economic reality of your own situation. If the animal was not in pain (hard to imagine, but “if”), then what would be wrong with taking it home and hoping it would get better? A faint hope, maybe, but a thousand dollars is a LOT of money to some people – more than many can justify spending on a pet.

That said, if you don’t have the, say, $50 that you need to get your clearly ill animal into the vet, then you have no business owning a pet.

This is the scary part. For every one of those idiots who call like that, who knows how many are there who just tie the animal to a fence post under the sun to see if he learns the lesson that bleeding on the new carpet is no no.

I love my FIL, but he is the worst with dogs. Strange, considering that he has all kinds of farm animals that he keeps very carefully. Luckily, the last two died last year and he is adamant that he won’t have another dog at the house (thank you Lord for small mercies). The details of the deaths of those last two dogs are best left untold. Suffice it to say that both managed to break free and disappear (one without a trace, the other stinking for a full week)

You only say that because you’ve never been around large animal vets and large animal owners. Believe me, large animal owners can be horrifically stupid AND their “woogums” can kill you, so it makes for some fun times.

Just for example, a friend of mine, large animal vet in a rural practice (known by some of the oldsters only as “the lady vet” lol) was sued for cruelty because she had her assistant pick up a horse’s front leg (much as you would do on any given day to clean its hoof) to prevent it kicking her again after it had already tried twice.

There is also the lady who called in with the old “do you think you come should by?” question… her foal, born three days ago, had NEVER eaten. My friend was able to save the foal through some herculean efforts, and of course the person wanted a “break” on the farm call charge. My frind the vet has seen a lot of good owners, but plenty of idiots and abusers.

I was at the vet (this one specializes in pets other than dogs and cats) with one of our ferrets, when I heard a woman there who was bringing in her cockatiel. Apparently the bird had been lethargic, with poor appetite and labored breathing. The desk staff asked if this had just started yesterday or today. Nope. Two weeks ago.

I sympathize with the family told about a $1000 vet bill, but their action should not have been “let’s take the torn-up dog home to suffer.” If they’d thought - or perhaps, the vet had - euthanasia should have been discussed. It’s hard to let an ill animal go - I should know as I’ve personally had to authorize the euthanasia of four of our ferrets - but some people hang on too long. I’ve been to visit people who were keeping their ailing, diabetic dog alive for too long - we swore that you could smell death as you walked in the house, and the dog just dragged himself around. But of course, they wouldn’t even discuss putting the poor creature out of his misery.

Hehe! Thank you! That’s me too. Even with the cockatiels, (they’re “only” birds after all).

Okay, that’s pretty stupid and I’m actually not that surprised to be wrong. Somewhat surprised, but that’s just because (as I said) those animals represent a lot of time and money. They’re probably the same kind of people that don’t change their oil until the “check oil” light comes on and the like.