This is a response to the letter to the editor from Charles L. Brown regarding emergency veterinary treatment.
I have worked in veterinary medicine for 12 years, the last seven in emergency treatment.
First, the distance Brown has to travel is not all that unusual for a small town.
The $100 fee covers the emergency fee and the initial exam. Where I work, the fee is $120.
These facilities are open during the nighttime, which requires them to have employees willing to work through the night. At our hospital, the weeknight shift is from 6 p.m. to 8 a.m. We have two vets who cover 96 hours a week and two who cover the weekends. The weekend hours start at 6 p.m. Friday and end at 8 a.m. Monday mornings We are open 365 days a year, which means employees work all holidays.
It also does not have a consistent flow of clients. No appointment is needed, and some nights we do not see any patients, but the employees still have to be paid and the facility maintained.
These facilities do not run on air. The equipment, medications, testing, upkeep, pet foods, etc., all cost money. While we are all very dedicated, we also have homes and families to support.
Contrary to what many think, it is not all about the money. You do not see what goes on behind those treatment-area doors, like the client who comes in with little money and tells us to put down the animal because they can't pay. We had such an incident recently. There was no reason to put the dog down, which had been attacked by another dog, so the vet paid for the anesthesia, I paid for the pain medication and another employee paid for the antibiotics.
One of the things pet owners can do is educate themselves. Find out what constitutes an emergency, what is life threatening and requires immediate treatment. Learn what to look for to determine a life-threatening situation, and learn pet first aid.
Pet owners can take steps themselves to prevent many problems.