Letters to the Editor of Globe Magazine
I was reading this article when my vet called me (1h30 after the office closed) to tell me that my 16 year old dog had aggressive cancer. If I could go to my loving and caring vets for medical attention, I would. Living to the equivalent of 16 canine years, having doctors call after hours, having the whole office know my name, and everyone being sad when I have cancer – that would be a good system health care!
It’s unimaginable for me not to have an animal in my life; my children grew up with all kinds. My daughter is now a behavior specialist and trainer at San Francisco Animal Care and Control. One year she called me crying because someone was interested in adopting a 4-year-old Chihuahua with flea-bitten ears. (For me, it’s dachshund or bust.) So? “I love it.” Ugh. We welcomed Mouse into our fold. He just had his teeth cleaned – $2,000. Last year, Twinkle, her French bulldog, was found on the street. Another new addition to the family. Twinkle had a herniated disc. His operation was for $10,000. Fortunately, my daughter has pet insurance. My other daughter’s pet rat recently had a benign tumor removed for the lowest price of $450. All in all, animals bring immeasurable joy. I work with doctors, many of whom have huge egos. The veterinarians? All heart.
The public has a responsibility to understand the role that veterinary personnel play in keeping their animals as healthy as possible. It would be so encouraging to see a little more empathy and understanding exercised by the owners.
Dr. Elizabeth Schuda
Ever since I was a child, I wanted to be a veterinarian. After 11 years of study, I have achieved this dream. I worked for two years for a practice that also offered emergency care. I crashed and burned due to the grueling schedule. Over the weekend I was on emergency call, unable to get home to feed my pets, let alone shower/rest. When I was away, I was never “off” – my mind was racing with my stuff. Eleven years ago, I opened my practice. There are pressures from all sides when you own a business. But I find the positive side — the client who brings the team lunch, homemade jams, a tray of cookies. The client whose pet you helped cross the Rainbow Bridge, arriving with a new puppy. With everything in life, you take the good with the bad. As veterinarians, we have to take care of ourselves, which is difficult. Our job is to take care of everyone else. For me, having been in the vet field for 36 years, I have a great formula for me.
Dr. Linda Register, East-West Animal Hospital
Thank you for writing a simple and compassionate article about us. Harder has so eloquently described the essence of the craft that I often struggle to put into words. For the vast majority of us, we don’t want more money. We don’t want a fancy life. We want to help people and their pets; we are civil servants. We work to support a unique health initiative and strive to support the human-animal bond. We appreciate the kindness and being able to pay a living wage to our very dedicated staff. Please remind readers.
Dr. Summer Jenks
I was touched by the article from the veterinarian’s point of view. It’s sad from every angle. As a retired woman on a fixed income, learning that having my cat’s teeth cleaned will cost me $800, or half of my monthly Social Security income, is also sad. I have insurance. It doesn’t cover much, including regular dental care. These types of costs can overwhelm people. We love our pets and we love our veterinarians. When I asked mine why the costs were so high, she replied that she used the most modern equipment and technology. I said she had my permission not to do the procedure on the Starship Enterprise. There should be a small gift here.
I am a veterinarian who has watched my beloved profession suffer the consequences of the stresses we face. I love what I do and can’t imagine a better career, but there are plenty of tough days beyond anything a pet owner can imagine. Thanks to Jeff Harder for trying to open the public’s eyes to reality.
Dr. Michele Leatherbury, Atlantic Animal Hospital
I’ve never met a pet I didn’t like – even the dangerous Rottweiler trying to attack me (not his fault). With every interaction I struggle to find a way to get a diagnosis at the lowest cost and I always use generic drugs to save my clients money – but almost every day I am accused of trying to scam people. Thirty-five years in — I’m tired.
Dr Kelly Butler
My wife is a veterinarian and the emotional impact is incredible. Patient owners are often verbally abusive. Work definitely weighs on him. Articles like this help raise awareness.
Brian and Victoria Nihls
Fruit Cove, Florida
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