Money-grubbing, incompetent, stupid veteranarian!

My dog is injured. Before I got into the long version of this, let me preface it with the happy ending: she seems to have had an allergic reaction to an insect bite, which caused her muzzle to swell up and itch badly, and she scratched herself so hard she ripped the skin off her nose. A decent vet - the **second ** one I saw today - gave her an antibiotic and some Benadryl and says she will be fine, but wants to see her again in a week to follow up. I’m to call if anything seems to worsen or if the swelling doesn’t go down considerably by tomorrow morning.

But the first vet I took her to… OY. My husband had taken her there last fall for a yearly checkup, because it’s within walking distance to our house. I liked our old vet, only a mile or two away, but technically, it’s his dog, so I went to his vet with her.

My dog is a Mastiff. She’s small (only 98 pounds) but still considerably larger than the average suburban dog. And she’s a dark brindle color, which makes her look vaguely dangerous. Plus, one should never ever take any kind of chances with either a strange dog, or an injured dog, and to this vet, she was both. I’m on board with that. So though I was dismayed, I did not object to the vet muzzling her for the exam.

Then he asked me to lift her onto the table. This is a five-year-old dog who has been to the vet routinely, and has NEVER been placed on a table. Let’s go back for a sec to the fact that this is a 98-pound dog. I’m 5’2" and weigh 107 pounds. Fortunately, my brother was with me, and he helped me lift her onto the table. "It’s easier for me this way, " the vet said. Easier to muzzle her and get me and my brother to lift her onto a table than to, oh, I dunno, bend over and look at her? She’s almost at eye level as it is! But, hey, you’re the vet. Whatever.

He gave her the most distracted, interrupted, WEIRD examination ever. It included rubbing a glass slide across the wound, poking her repeatedly in the nose, shaving her muzzle so he could look at the wound (this was after he’d rubbed a slide across it), spraying the wound with what I suppose was betadyne or something similar, and taking her temperature. All the while, he was babbling to me. Seriously, BABBLING. Like, he never completed a sentence, just threw out vague phrases. He asked me nothing about her. He did say “hmmm, this is hard, it’s been like this a long time.” I said, “No, this just happened today.” “No,” he said, “this is an older wound.” Um, no, this dog had her head in my lap at 2:30 today and it wasn’t there, and it’s 3:30 now and it is. It’s not an old wound.

“Well, maybe you just didn’t see it before.”

He suggested it was cancerous. Maybe necrotic. “You know,” he said, “Dead. It’ll get more swollen and then it will sort of… yes, Um. Do you have cats? Oh, maybe it’s a cat scratch” (my cats don’t have claws) “But yeah. Then the, you know, um, granulating tissue will come up from under. If it’s dead. I could do a CBC and a culture to find out.” I asked if it could be an insect bite or sting (some of you may recall that I mentioned in MPSIMS the other day that I have what appears to be a mosquito bite right now.) He said, “At this time of year? There are no insects.” I told him I have an insect bite. He suggested that “the circumstances in your house, I don’t know, you might have a brown recluse or something. So yeah, if it’s dead, then the skin will slough off…”

THEN he delievered this one: “I could give her amoxycillin, but that’s a really cheap antibiotic and she’s a really big dog. I need an idea of your budget here before I do anything, I don’t want you to end up with a $400 bill and not know it’s coming. You know, to do tests and everything, sometimes it ends up costing a lot. Or if you don’t want to spend the money I can just give her an antibiotic and then you have to bring her back every couple days, you know when the dead skin starts to fall off and the hair follicles will come off, too, you know?” I shit you not, every question I asked him about what might be wrong with my dog was answered with, “Well, I don’t know what kind of budget you’re on, I can’t really do anything until I know…”

REALLY long story made a lot shorter though not by any means actually short, I had a small tantrum, demanded the bill for the “services” thus far “rendered” and told him I was taking my dog to a vet with an actual clue. I managed with my brother’s help to get my poor dog off the table and the muzzle off her (which my brother threw on the floor. The vet is probably lucky my brother didn’t muzzle HIM.) I endured argument from the vet and from his assistant (who I think may have been his wife), both of whom repeatedly told me “We’ve been in this business for 33 years” and “well, it’s just that we don’t want you to get stuck with a big bill unless you know ahead of time,” and neither of whom would/could answer the simplest question about the dog! I paid the $98 bill, shaking from trying NOT lose my temper, and took the dog across town to the vet I take my cats to.

MY vet got down on the floor and cuddled the dog as she examined her. She looked at the wound, peeked into her ears, listened to her heart, felt her lymph glands and gave her treats all the while talking nicely, quietly and reassuringly to the dog and answering my questions. Ten minutes later I was out the door with a bottle of antibiotics, instructions to buy generic Benadryl (“it’s cheaper than what I can give you here and it’s the same thing”) a much-less-frightened dog (and a much-less-frightened ME) and the reassuring knowledge that it’s NOT necrotic or cancerous or otherwise dangerous.

NOW - I believe the bad vet is self-employed. I need to ask you Dopers: is there any kind of governing body or professional association that regulates/watchdogs (ha) veteranarians? I want to write a letter. (Well, I WANT to burn the bad vet’s office down, but that is just a violent, unproductive emotional urge that will pass.)

Googling for state veterinary regulatory boards led me here, to the Illinois Division of Professional Regulation. The links to the left on the page should get you where you need to go.

I suppose if I’d spelled “veterinarian” correctly I’d have had more luck finding information. Thanks ETF - there’s no apparent link there to file a complaint, but I did find a list of regulatory board members, one of whom is local-ish to me. I think I’ll drop her a line.

Click on the link for Consumer Services and you’ll find a link to file a complaint by email regarding any member of the many professions regulated by that division.

ETA: You can go ahead and drop a line to the local commissioner but I suspect the response will be to direct you to the division’s formal complaint procedure. Agencies have to follow the correct procedural path in investigating complaints, adjudicating them, and applying sanctions, otherwise their rulings will be overruled in the courts.

Big fat hugs to the vet that’s worth a damn. Yay!! You can always tell a vet that’s in it because they love animals against one that thought it would be a good way to make a buck. Many professions are fine if you’re just in it to make money, but when dealing with people or animals, you may want to rethink your career if you don’t give a shit about either.
33 years doesn’t mean anything if you have never cared a day in all that time.

I hate vets who don’t know their stuff. My first ferret needed his first boosters so, I took him to my family’s vet when I was visiting my parents. The vet put on leather gloves and held my ferret down, then jabbed the needle into the skin between his shoulders, making him squeak in pain. Every other vet I’ve seen since will gently scruff a ferret while supporting the ferret’s bottom, then sliding the needle into the scruffed bit of skin. Often, especially if I’m distracting the ferret with something yummy, the injection is barely even noticed.

Document exactly what the vet did and said, note his manner and lack of interest in explaining to you what was happening.


I’m sorry that happened to you- I think you are right to have taken your dog and RAN to a decent vet. That being said…I think you will have a hard time getting any action on this vet. Had he treated her and the outcome was detrimental, or he lied on his records, or failed to provide standard of care- then you would have a case. However, since you choose to pursue treatment elsewhere (rightly so), you may not get alot of help from the board since the vet did not actually practice medicine past an initial evaluation from which you declined treatment.

In my experience- I have managed three different vet hospitals ranging from great vets to one that I actually had to testify against in a board hearing- the board is very concerned with standard of care and record keeping. Not so concerned with money issues or “bedside manner”. It is not a board violation to insist on muzzling any pet before the exam and it is also not a board violation to pursue multiple causes of a problem. I think this vet had an obvious listening problem- but that is also not a board violation unless it results in malpractice. I could be wrong in this case, and I’m not saying you should pursue it, just don’t be surprised if your complaint doesn’t even go on record.

I think the best you could do is make sure you tell this story to as many people as possible, and make sure the good vet is mentioned by name (a business card given would be nice too) to everyone you tell this story too.

I meant to say I am not saying you should not pursue it DUH sorry…

Actually, I thought about this, and you’re likely right. Just being an asshole is probably not a violation of any professional veterinary standards. And since I would not let him treat her, I don’t have a medical issue to take up with him.

Still, I think I am going to register a complaint throgh ETF’s link anyway based on his “bedside manner” (or lack thereof) just so it’s on record - for whatever good it does, even if it only does ME some good to get it out. I’ll tell anyone who’ll listen that the guy’s a schmuck, and I will sing the praises of the GOOD vet far and wide.

Actually, one consolation would be that it is a MAJOR pain in the butt to get a board complaint. I got lots of practice at that at the crappy vet I worked at , plus recently at the totally awesome, excellent, wonderful vets we recently got our first complaint in 7 years (purely financial in orgin, we did not nothing wrong except keep a pet from dying I guess) of business. Anyways- at least you will have the satisfaction of taking up a ton of this vet’s time in responding to the complaint- at least our board requires triplicate copies of all records, a detailed letter of response/rebuttal, etc…not fun.

Well, I am glad you found a vet that can help your dog, but…

My father was in small animal practice for forty-some years. One of his rules of thumb was that people who say, “Cure my dog and spare no expense” do not consistently show the same attitude when the bill actually arrives. I’m not saying you’re that sort, just that there are many people who are.

I couldn’t comment on the vet’s expertise (or lack thereof) except to reiterate that you will probably not be able to sustain an action against him. As Smokinjbc mentions, many of the complaints the review board gets are financial in nature. And many of those complaints come from people who said, “Spare no expense, etc.” and then react badly when the vet does.

I’m just saying.


I love my cat’s vet. He clearly loves the animals he treats, and he’s conscious of cost - I can’t think of a time I’ve taken an animal to see him with anything serious and he hasn’t explained what I was looking at financially.

I once had a very sick kitten - 7 months old, that he was operating on to clear an obstruction. Doc called me at home to explain what he saw inside the cat (massive, massive infection), and offered me the chance to come see for myself. He waited ten minutes while I got there, showed me for myself what it looked like, explained what life would be like for the cat IF he was able to clear out the infection.

Then he left me alone with the little guy before he disconnected everything and put him to sleep.

I live a good 25 minute drive from him now, but my cats will only see him while I have anything to say about it.

Bad vets are the worst…especially since your pet can’t tell you what’s actually wrong and it’s all up to you and the vet to figure it out.

My favorite vet was over 30 miles from my home and I had to pass dozens of vets to get to him, but it was worth every minute of inconvenience. Unfortunately, now he’s 200 miles away…that’s a little far to drive. I still tell people in his area what an excellent vet he is and if we ever move back there, I’ll be bringing the girls to him.

You may not be able to do anything through the vet board, but maybe you can complain to the BBB. Word of mouth is also a great way to let people know about this guy. And, of course, you can sing the praises of the good vet the same way…through the BBB and word of mouth.

Does he also pick a doctor or dentist based on how far it is to drive from your house? Oy.


BBB is also only concerned with financial matters. I learned this the hard way after dealing with the owner of a pet crematory who was . . . decidedly less than competent and sensitive. Because they had performed the physical service, the BBB was not concerned a whit with how we were treated during the process, no matter how crudely.

I concur with the advice to tell your friends about the good vet, and warn them about the bad.

Our vet is a peach. We are always talking about how lucky we are that he’s just down the road (his office is attached to his home) and we can call him any time for advice. And also how we hope he never ever retires.

I can understand this completely, and the Bad Vet’s assistant (who spent much of my visit talking over the vet, quite possibly because she could tell my brain was about to explode) specifically said this, too. It’s a legitimate concern, but once it’s been addressed and the client has said “yes, I understand, please tell me what it will cost” there ought to be, you know an ANSWER forthcoming. More “Well, I’d like to do this test and this test, and it’s $300” is better than “Well, tell me how much you’re willing to spend and I’ll tell you how much medical help I can give your dog for that money.”

Wellll, the convenience of the location was certainly a factor in trying them out. As it happens, though, our family doctor and our family dentist, both formerly located on the other side of town, have both recently moved into buildings right down the street from us. Right now I’d have a hard time convincing anyone that location wasn’t the PRIME factor!

I’m glad you found a good vet - please praise her and recommend her to everyone! Other than paying your bill, that is the best thanks a vet can have.

I’m still reeling over the $98 at the first vet. Do you have your reciept? What did he charge you for, other than being an ass?

Bad vet’s bill:

  1. Consultation : Physical Examination - 48.00
  2. Professional Services - 30.00
  3. Other - 20.50 (I will assume this covers the glass microscope slide, the betadyne spray and the cotton ball :rolleyes: )

Good vet’s bill:

  1. Medical Exam - 71.00
  2. Dispensary: Simplicef 200mg tabs(10) - 37.90
    (No charge for the cheese :slight_smile: )

I got on my high horse and told my husband I want my $98 back and by gawd, I intend to get it. He told me to let it go, it’d be more aggravation than it was worth to deal with the guy again. Having contemplated the prospect of having to talk to that moron again under any circumstances, I decided the husband is right.

How can they charge for a consult and professional services, isn’t the consult the service???

All quite true, of course. Best would be two or three possible courses of action, from “I can swab this out and debride it and let it heal by second intention - that’ll probably run about $150, or do skin grafts, which will be at least $400” (or whatever - I am making this up). It is unreasonable (in my non-veterinary opinion) to expect the client to come up with a “Total I am Willing to Pay to Fix My Dog” off the top of her head before suggesting courses of treatment.

Hoo boy. This, in my opinion, is a very bad sign. No idea if this is a cause or a result of the apparent inadequacy of the vet, but entirely the wrong person is managing the client visit.

Bad things are happening in that practice, or will shortly. :eek: