Sunday, February 27, 2011

Shit Happens

I pick up shit for a living. It's part of my job description. I've been peed on, shit on, puked on and bled on. I clean these up, and I also dispose of tumors, organs, and dead animals. So much for the glamor of the animal care industry. People who work with animals accept this as a fact of life, and it's not for the squeamish. Much like the Pigpen character in Peanuts, if there's a speck of dirt (or worse) within a 50 mile radius the chances are good that it will end up on me, in spite of me starting every day with a shower. And when I leave work, I get to go home and pick up after my own pets, off the clock.
I wore a dress, heels and hose to my interview for my first job in this industry. My future boss doubted that I knew what I was in for because "you're dressed awfully fancy for a job where you get shit under your fingernails." Still, I'd rather do this than put up with what food servers put up with. I've been on that side of the table.
A trip to the vet's office is stressful to even the most well trained pet. A frightened or furious cat will let loose of its bladder and bowels as a defense, and a nervous or sick dog will pee or poop, or worse, let loose it's anal glands. Hospitalized dogs with parvo leave an ocean of vomit and diarrhea. If I continue to work in this industry, I hope my next job is kennel attendant or surgical assistant. I'd rather deal with what comes out of an animal than with the fucktards who own them.
 It's inevitable that at least one animal per day in nervous anticipation will either pee or poop in the waiting room. We don't expect the public to have to sit there with it. Just let us know it's there, and we'll take care of it, we have the technology. Doesn't matter which one did it.
There's someone who gets mad at me because their pet pooped in my office. One woman who brought her dog in to be neutered wasn't watching her dog and he took a dump all over the waiting room floor. Two weeks later when she brought him back for suture removal he did the same thing. She whirled around on me and snarled "It must be you guys, he never does this in my other vet's office."  It was worth cleaning up the mess knowing the bitch wouldn't be back.
A few weeks ago we had a standing room only waiting room. Thankfully there were two of us at the desk, but still we were slammed. Some dog took a dump in the doorway, a person stepped in it on the way out, and the 15 or so people in the waiting room never said a word. My coworker discovered it and went to work cleaning up, leaving me to handle the front and bottlenecking the whole process. There was some satisfaction in knowing that whoever stepped in it got in their car with shit on their shoe, and we didn't have to clean it.
Pet owners, I have news for you: animals shit, and it needs to be cleaned up. If it happens in the vet's office, let us know it's there. You don't have to claim it or apologize (although it's nice), we'll take care of it. Deal with it. Shit Happens.

Friday, February 25, 2011

"She Don't Know Nothin' "

Yesterday I got a call from someone who explained to me that "time is tight" and her dog was in pain and needed to be seen right away. Normally this isn't a problem, but Boss Man had just left and wasn't to be back until several hours later, and I offered her an appointment then. That wouldn't work, so she got down to the real reason for the phone call (free advice) and asked what over the counter drug she could give the dog, and oh yes, it was having trouble breathing. I told her I was not "familiar" with what was safe that was non prescription. She hung up on me.
Naturally the first reaction is to say she should make the time to get her dog seen ASAP. I do know what it's like to have a busy day planned down to the wire and be running behind when my child or my pet starts puking. It's just that one more thing that throws everything into a tizzy. So I'll be generous of thought and try to be understanding.
The internet brings plenty of advice, both good and bad. Some is from professionals in the industry (who always put in the disclaimer to see your medical/veterinary professional) and some are lay people. It's up to the asker of such advice to use their brain and a smidgen of common sense when presented with the information.
There are laws to protect the consumer, client, and patient, that are there for a good reason. Unfortunately these laws are so abused and people are so litigious the professional has to be very careful about what they say. The person who answers the phone at the doctor's or vet's office is NOT a medical professional. The only advice I can give is what the Boss Man relays to me, which he will only do if he's seen the patient. If we haven't seen the animal, I tell the owner to get them to a vet.  Doing so otherwise is considered Practicing Medicine Without a License, which can cause me to lose my job, or even my boss to lose his license. And I have yet to find anyone worth risking it over.
I also have to watch what I say with my opinions, of which I have many, when I'm at work, since even voicing them can come back to bite me in the ass. So many people want something that is free so caution is the order of the day. I have recommended certain tests or products under the supervision of Boss Man. But I'm sure as hell not going to give advice to some stranger wanting to medicate a dog who is obviously not well, since the wrong thing could have the worst consequences.
The person answering the phone may not be as stupid as you think, she just may be doing the smart thing: Cover Your Ass.

Friday, February 11, 2011

The Questions Get Harder.......

And the ass clowns are out in record numbers.
I've mentioned before that our office is in the dark ages and we don't have a computer. When someone brings a pet in, they give us their name, we look it up in our Rolodex file, which has their name, address and a file number. The file number contains the information we have on the pets that owner has brought in to be seen. Seems simple, doesn't it?
Some vet's offices keep files under the pets first name and the owner's last name. We don't for several reasons:
1. We'd have 5 times the files we have now.
2. Some pets are deceased, and the owner doesn't want the file named for a dead pet. Plus, pets are rehomed and their names can be changed.
3. Pets can't be financially responsible for themselves.
4. Pet's can't understand instructions we give for them. I can't call one on the phone and say "Hey, Barkley, got your blood work back and everything looks good. Keep taking your thyroid medicine and exercise. Send your human in when you need more refills. And if you try to bite me again, I'll put you on a strict diet, you little shitweasel."

So, it's less trouble to just put the file under the owner's name. The problem is, some owners can't remember what their name is. Or what name the file was put under when they first came in. This results in a search that may take longer than getting their pet seen and treated. You'd think since their own name is the first thing they learned how to say, spell and write, that they could do this. But it's harder than you think.

"Animal Hospital"
"Yes, I brought a dog in on Monday, first thing in the morning, and it had parvo, and I have some questions"
"Let me get your chart, what is your name?"
"Jane Doe" (looks through rolodex)
"I can't find a chart under that name, could it be under another name?"
"No, it's under MY NAME, JANE DOE. Don't you remember? I was there when you first opened on Monday."
My memory isn't the best, but I was the one who worked Monday morning. And I always remember Parvo cases. And who the first client in the door in the morning is.
"I can't seem to find your file, are you sure you have the right hospital?"
By this time, I go ask Boss Man. He remembers the client, and finds the file.
"Ma'am, do you know who Suzy Doe is?"
"Yes, that's me!"
I check the chart, and it's the late shift worker's handwriting. So not only did this ass clown not know her own name, she doesn't know morning from evening. I let Boss Man deal with her.

Like everything else in the vet world, we seem to get people like this in clusters, and usually when we're insanely busy. I had four or five of these in a few hours, including one kid who couldn't spell his mom's name.
I'm tempted to buy some name stickers, put their names on it, and stick in on their shirt like they did in kindergarten. How the hell these people can find their own way home is beyond me. They can't give me the right name, and the questions get harder.

Monday, February 7, 2011


Occasionally, I'll do a Google search on our practice and read the reviews. Many are not very complimentary.  Further research shows that most of the others have their share of bad reviews too.
Since I'm employed by a small business and married to a small business owner, I prefer to support small businesses and indy companies. And since the advent of the internet, many of the places I frequent aren't brick and mortar stores, but internet companies. So I do check reviews, and read what bloggers have to say about them. A negative review doesn't necessarily frighten me away, but I keep the information in mind when I'm making purchasing choices.

I'm noticing a trend on some of my favorite blogs: negative reviews by a blogger brings a shitstorm of  nasty comments from those who support and like the company. There's nothing wrong with saying "hey sorry your experience was bad, I've always had good luck."  But nasy vicious personal attacks on the blogger do nothing but keep those of us who lurk (and there's way more us who lurk rather than post) far away from the company. Who wants to shell out hard earned money to somebody with rabid batshit supporters?
So those of you who are new to indy internet business, you need to learn one thing quickly: not everyone is going to love you. Not all the reviews will be gushing. Put on your big girl panties and get over it. How you handle the negativity is going to make a big difference in your reputation, because that is what customers remember.
Now, on to other annoyances. To the ass clowns who insist on being in front of me for reasons known only to them: I get that you are in a hurry and don't want to follow me.  I'm just thrilled for you that you got to the red light first and have to spend 5 seconds waiting instead of the half second you'd have if you stayed behind me. But since you insist on being in front, for crissake get your thumb out of your butt and step on the damn accelerator pedal. You know, the skinny one on the right.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

The Blame Game

Some time ago I got a call from a man whose dog was not eating or pooping but was vomiting for several weeks. He asked for advice about a home remedy to make the dog poop. Since we have to watch what kind of advice we give over the phone, I talked him in to bringing the dog in to be seen.
The dog had clearly been in a bad way for some time, dehydrated and severe weight loss. The owner agreed to a blood test, and some prescriptions to deal with the vomiting. He refused further diagnostics, and in fact refused to pay for some of the other prescribed stuff, stating he could buy them cheaper at a vet supply.
Over the next few weeks, he called the Boss several times, demanding answers as to why the dog was not getting better. Boss Man told him that without further diagnostics to pinpoint the cause of the problem, he couldn't begin to speculate why the dog was still sick. Which turned into an altercation that ended up with the owner picking up the dog's records from our office and finding another vet.
Fortunately, the new vet wouldn't touch the dog without full diagnostic work up. A simple x-ray (which the owner refused to have done at our office) showed that the dog had eaten a sock. Unfortunately by this time the dog was so emaciated that surgical intervention was life threatening, so the dog was given some stuff to hopefully pass the sock on his own. I don't know whether it was successful or not.
Boss Man, through no fault of his own, was labeled a Bad Vet by the dog's owner. I see at least one of these types of reviews on the internet for just about every vet listed.
Unlike human hospitals who must treat everyone who comes through the door, veterinary hospitals are businesses and the depth of treatment depends on the owner's ability to pay. Diagnostics can run into the hundreds or thousands of dollars, hard to do in a bad economy. The scope of diagnostics and treatment is determined by what the owner can afford. It's a tough choice.
Like human medical science, veterinary science is not exact. Every practice has seen patients who we are sure will be fine suddenly take a bad turn and die, and those who we are sure we are seeing for the last time defy the odds and live to try to bite us for years. I've lost count of the owners who come in angry and tell Boss Man "you didn't tell me my pet was going to die!" or "you treated my pet and he's not better, I want a refund!" Sadly, these people are beyond reasoning with, and the reason why many vets won't touch a sick animal without full sets of diagnostic tests. Which of course makes the bill higher.
There are so many factors that determine how an animal will respond to treatment, and many of them are beyond our control. If something goes wrong, the vet gets blamed. The veterinary profession is definitely not for the faint of heart.