Through no fault of my own (promise) I recently found myself in a couple of situations where I had to defend vet practices being run as businesses.
The first was in response to an acquaintance who, when discussing vets who offer help to stray pets that need medical help, laughingly suggested that “the extra fiver they charge you” goes towards helping these animals.
While said in a jokey manner, there seemed to be a very real belief that vets are over-charging to cover such costs, rather than what actually happens in a number of practices where they take the decision to use some of their profits for charity.
Why is this such a surprise in an industry where private practices are asked on an almost daily basis to make charitable acts?
The second moment came during what was actually a rather warming social media moment. A dead cat had been left on the pavement on a road near us, and details had been put onto social media to alert locals. The assumption it had been “murdered” was quickly dispelled, but the matter of what to do was raised; it was a Sunday afternoon and the nearby veterinary practice was closed.
It was chipped and the owners were sad, but they grateful to know what had happened.
However, in discussing the situation as a positive use of social media, another acquaintance asked why vets don’t have OOH cover for dead animals – then came, why did the RSPCA not? Why did the local authority not?
The reality that a vet is not 100% responsible for your pet in all eventualities seemed surprising news to some.
It sometimes feels like we can’t win. If we put profits into charitable causes it’s because we overcharge; if we aren’t there 24/7 for free, whatever the situation, then we don’t care.
How do we improve the public image of the vet?