“No Obamacare for dogs”: 5 things you should know about the vet ER

Another week, another veterinary ER under fire. This time, it’s the Southwest Michigan Animal Emergency Hospital, now receiving angry calls and even death threats after declining to perform emergency exploratory surgery on a young German Shepherd who developed complications after a spay at a different clinic earlier in the day. The issue was the owner’s inability to provide upfront payment. It almost always is.

There is no doubt that this is a terrible and sad outcome for the owners of the dog, and I am utterly sincere in saying my heart goes out to them. As a result of going to social media, both the heartbroken owners and what is, by all accounts, a good emergency clinic are receiving heated scrutiny they probably don’t deserve. Here’s 5 things I wish everyone knew about this sort of situation:

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1. This may be once in a lifetime for you, but it’s once in a shift for the ER.

Veterinary care, and emergency care in particular, is expensive. It’s not price gouging; it accurately reflects the increased cost of running an overnight facility with high overhead. Due to the nature of emergency work, there are a high number of large estimates, and a good number of people who say, “I can’t afford that.” Good people, and good pets. None of that changes the fact that the costs are fixed. Because they weren’t inflated with a “just because I feel like it” tax to begin with, there isn’t wiggle room to negotiate it down. If you do, you go out of business.


2. “I can’t” doesn’t mean “I don’t care.”

When the doctor in this story said “I’ll be fired if I don’t charge appropriately,” I’m sure she (or he) meant it. When I worked an ER shift as an employee, lowering cost equaled theft of services. If an audit found treatment in the medical record not on the bill, it was either added to the bill or came out of my paycheck. There are only three variables in this: the practice owner, the vet providing the estimate (who often is not the same as the owner), and the client. Someone pays that bill. There is no “make up for it through inflating insurance charges to the insured” option we see in human hospitals.

Saying no is really, really hard. People ask me to do things all the time that I cannot do. Just because I have to say no, doesn’t mean I don’t go home and cry about it sometimes. Don’t confuse lack of ability to give you something you want with lack of wishing I could. Vets talk about this struggle every day, and every day work on ways to ensure pets get the care they need without going under. That being said, there’s only so many times one can apologize for wanting to get a paycheck for doing work. Like most vets I know, I give away plenty of services and time, but no one gets to determine the how and why of that except me.

3. We don’t know why the dog died.

It could be a surgical error, yes. Spays are major abdominal surgeries. It could also be many other things having nothing to do with the surgeon. A genetic clotting disorder, for example, is something no one can predict and can absolutely cause death in a textbook perfect surgical procedure. Let’s say hypothetically that this were the case, that testing was done and it was something no one could have predicted or prevented. Then who would be responsible for the bill? Still the original vet? Do we need to know who is at fault before attempting treatment?

4. If you want to blame someone for vets not offering payment plans, blame the other people in the waiting area.

Most vets have toyed with offering payment plans at one time or another. Of course that would be preferable to turning someone away, if they worked. The pet gets treatment and the vet gets paid. If people followed through, payment plans would exist, plain and simple. Truth is, 80% of the fees are never recovered. It’s an unsecured loan to a stranger who, history has shown time and time again, is very unlikely to repay you. The more someone swears up and down that they are good for it, the less likely that is to be true.

CareCredit, the financing option many vets offer now, is admittedly a shaky proposition, though it’s often the best we got. It’s hard to qualify for and the interest rates are often over the top (26% after the introductory period in many cases.) I’m glad to see other options being tossed around- MedVetPay being one I’ve just recently heard about- but it’s not the vet’s obligation to provide financing. Still, we try. We want this to work for you, too.

5. Every pet owner needs an emergency plan.

“I didn’t know I needed $ 2,000 ready to go,” said the owner. Many people don’t. Know your clinic’s emergency policies. If you are living in a relatively urban area with an emergency facility, it is fair to assume your day vet may refer there after hours, and if you run into an emergency such as coyotes, cars, or sudden collapse, initial treatment and stabilization can easily cost four figures. Assume this. Assume the ER vet has to charge you upfront because people before you didn’t pay up later. So what is your plan if this happens?

  • Have a credit card with this much available balance on it
  • Have an untouched savings account with this socked away
  • Have ‘that one vet your sister mentioned who will totally do midnight emergency services for $ 0 down’ on speed dial.
  • Have friends and family willing to front you the money on sudden notice
  • Have pet insurance (though you still have to provide the money initially, you get reimbursed a percentage later, reducing the long term cost)
  • Know your financial limits and be willing to understand that economic euthanasia is an option
  • Go on a social media crusade after the pet dies, knowing you’re going to get hit just as hard as the target of your anger, harder than either of you deserve; solving nothing.

Your choice.

Edit: Obviously this is a touchy topic for many people, and I appreciate all the people who have chimed in. Comments are back on for now as long as it stays civil. From this point forward I will delete anything with profanity or name calling. Thanks!


Pawcurious: With Pet Lifestyle Expert and Veterinarian Dr. V.

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Dr. Kaz Zymantas Brings Laser Gum Surgery to Naperville, IL for Gum Disease Treatment and Decreased Risk of Bone Loss

Naperville, IL (PRWEB) April 05, 2014

Dr. Zymantas treats patients suffering with gum disease symptoms with laser gum surgery in the Naperville, IL area. Laser Assisted New Attachment Procedure, or LANAP, utilizes an FDA cleared laser, the Periolase MVP-7, to remove gum disease and bacteria while simultaneously stimulating bone growth. The bone regeneration stimulated by LANAP also lowers the odds of losing teeth. When teeth are lost, one of the inevitable consequences is bone loss in the jaw which can lead to a myriad of other problems. Preventing tooth and bone loss with the use of LANAP is a very important factor in overall oral health.

LANAP has many unique benefits and is used to specifically target and remove both diseased tissue and the accompanying bacterial cause. The Periolase MVP-7 laser utilizes a specific wavelength of light that is absorbed only in the darkly pigmented diseased tissue, while not impacting healthy gum tissue and teeth. One of the benefits of LANAP is the fact that most patients can resume normal, everyday activities immediately after the procedure. This makes the procedure ideal for many patients because it allows them to get back to their lives faster than traditional gum surgery, plus it requires no cutting or stitching which is also a benefit of LANAP.

Although traditional gum surgery can also help prevent tooth and bone loss, LANAP offers a less painful and more effective option because the Periolase MVP-7 promotes bone regeneration. The laser also only affects diseased tissue which allows for healthy tissue to stay in place and support the teeth. Bone loss is a serious consequence of gum disease because without a healthy, well-anchored tooth, the jaw bone will eventually be reabsorbed, making most tooth replacement options difficult, if not impossible. Bone loss also has some dramatic cosmetic consequences including the loss of facial and mouth structure.

Patients who are suffering with gum disease symptoms and would like to learn about laser gum surgery in the Naperville, IL area should call Dr. Zymantas at 630-303-9403 or visit his website at http://www.lanapnaperville.com.

About the Doctor

Dr. Kaz Zymantas is a general dentist offering personalized dental care for patients in Naperville, IL for over 30 years. Dr. Zymantas received his Doctor of Dental Surgery from the University of Illinois and has earned a fellowship in the American Academy of General Dentistry, an honor belonging to only three percent of dentists in the world. Dr. Zymantas is part of one percent of dental professionals providing the LANAP FDA cleared laser procedure for gum disease and periodontal treatment. To learn more about Dr. Zymantas and his dental services visit his website at http://www.lanapnaperville.com and call 630-303-9403.

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New Pet Sitters Looking for a Membership Discount?

Over the past month or so PetsitUSA has undergone some reworking.  You may not notice the differences, but the coding will make the site more secure and increase search engine rankings.  If you are looking to join, then you can get a discount by submitting blog posts about pet sitting.  These posts will also help increase the city rankings.

There have been some great contributions over the past few months.  This offer was made in the fall, and it resulted in some excellent posts.  It would be great to have some new voices!

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Bulldog Eager To Learn

Adorable Bulldog is eager to learn. Okay class, if you turn your texts to page 169 you’ll see the classic example of ‘sit’

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VITACOST HAUL: Argan Oil, Kind Bars, Natural Skincare and more!

GET Off your Vitacost order by following this link: https://www.vitacostrewards.com/jGMTI9k Kind Bars: http://www.vitacost.com/kind-nuts-and-spices-bars-…

Pallete style cribs by the Beach House in Waubesa, some Crappies present. Example of some of the numerous rock bars by the “Greenie Bar”.
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Nose to nose

You never know who you’ll meet, up close and personal, in Monte Carlo.


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Little Boxer Puppy Heartbreaker

My wife and I are volunteers/fosters with a Boxer rescue organization in North Texas. My wife picked up this little heartbreaker last night

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Who’s to Blame for Interrupted Mail Delivery? A Chihuahua

If you need more reasons to keep your dog on the leash or safely in your house, here’s one: The U.S. Postal Service might stop delivering your mail. Or, as in the case of a neighborhood in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, it might stop delivering mail to your entire block.

The mail carrier assigned to the block has reported feeling threatened by a Chihuahua mix wandering around without a leash several times. After the fifth time, the USPS decided that enough was enough and issued notices to about 12 residences that mail services were being suspended until owner Guillermo Tellez controlled the dog.

“The dog has interfered, on a number of occasions, with the delivery of the mail in that particular neighborhood,” USPS spokesman Richard Watkins told TV station KCRG. “Once we know that the dog owner has taken responsibility and is making sure that dog is not running free in the neighborhood, the mail delivery will continue.”

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This dog is not making friends in the neighborhood. The USPS has stopped delivery after five encounters by its carriers.

As you can imagine, Tellez's neighbors aren't happy about having to visit the post office to pick up their mail. Elmer Kasey was very direct and descriptive on his feelings about the whole thing:

"It's a bunch of poop," he told a television reporter. "I think if it's got stamps on it and it says to deliver it, they should deliver it."

A lot of the neighbors share Kasey's frustration, but they also understand, having had their own problems with Tellez's pet.

"We got chased a couple of times just bringing groceries into our house in our own driveway," says Alyssa Taylor, who lives next door. "And then, we called animal control at that point and they did come and seize the dog because it did not have its vaccines up to date. Two weeks later my five-year-old was bit in the leg in the back of our own yard."

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Rusty mailbox hangs off a metal fence by Shutterstock.

Tellez, however, says that his pet is a "nice dog" who gets along with children, and only occasionally gets out. Nice or not, the dog needs to stay on a leash or behind a fence, and until then, the street's mailboxes are staying empty.


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Tuna Fish Hunting Fish Hunting CHNL nice Snorkeling Girl

Tuna Fishing Collection 2013 Cross Breeding is an art to formulate new look to animal ordering in european are agree to produce new horses in thsi same trick…
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This is what happens when Turkey Vultures, Black Vultures and a Wood Stork are all interested in the same hunk of fish. Not sure who killed the fish. I only …
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It’s OK to laugh

On March first, I hit ‘send’ and the first draft of my manuscript went flying through the ether to New York to land in the capable hands of my editor. It was simultaneously exhilarating and terrifying. If any of you watched the Oscars and heard De Niro deliver this little nugget:

The mind of a writer can be a truly terrifying thing. Isolated, neurotic, caffeine-addled, crippled by procrastination, consumed by feelings of panic, self-loathing, and soul-crushing inadequacy. And that’s on a good day.

That pretty much sums up my experience of churning out a manuscript. It lifted my spirits to know I was in such good company in my certainty of inadequacy. I’m still not sure of the publication date yet; it depends on a lot of things, such as Grand Central’s current catalogue and how many rounds of editing the book has to go through before it’s whipped into shape like a perfect meringue. I’ll be sure to keep you posted because I did guarantee AT LEAST 25 copies sold and my mom can’t buy them all. :)

In the meantime, I set myself to a side task which turned out to be rather entertaining. As part of my contract I get to submit about 15 black and white photos for the book, covering my life with Taffy, Emmett, and Kekoa. The latter two I’m set on, but finding old pictures from my childhood was a bit more of a challenge.

My father, like my husband now, was an early adopter of new photo technology. This is all fine and good if the technology sticks, but of course as we’ve found it usually doesn’t. This resulted in two major problems:

1. 1975-1983 exists solely on old slides.

2. 1997-2002, the early digital age which also coincided with vet school, ended up on an old-school iOmega zip disk. The whereabouts of said discs are unknown. They may be floating in a box that’s been packed since the day I left vet school, or in a Goodwill store somewhere, or maybe Brian put them on an old PC that is also dead and gone, who knows. It is possible the pictures could be recovered if I actually HAD them, but at this point I would need a genie and a committed tech nerd.

Fortunately for me, my father kept his slides miraculously intact, and spent the last year faithfully transferring them into a digital format. It was crazy to see what he delivered, keeping in mind the last time my father actually set up the projector in the house was 1983. I hadn’t seen any of those pictures since then, kindergarten, first communion, all those moments from decades ago. Taffy as a puppy.

I chose one or two of Taffy looking cute then a few more of me looking as dorky as possible, which meant pretty much all of them (I had a very extended awkward phase.) So because I love you all and I thought it was funny, I wanted to share one of the pics I didn’t end up using but is very illustrative of my formative years:

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I’ll need my sister (the elegant brunette in the back) to chime in on the age of this one. Mid 80s for sure. And there’s me, the love child of Sandy Squirrel and Benny Hill:


It was a bad time for fashion in general.

And of course Taffy, who was as always plotting her escape. Or perhaps planning where in the house she wanted to pee next. I owe my dedication to the newest odor removing technology to years of following her around with an ineffectual roll of paper towels and whatever carpet cleaner they had in the 80s.

Your turn- who was your first pet? What is your most clear memory of them?

Pawcurious: With Pet Lifestyle Expert and Veterinarian Dr. V.

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