Sunday, March 25, 2012

Vaccination Revisited

I see it all the time in public bathrooms: women washing their hands like they're scrubbing up to perform surgery, carefully not touching the towel dispenser, and using the paper towel to open the bathroom door. Even most grocery stores provide antibacterial wipes to wipe off carts before we use them. People don't want other people's germs around them.
Yet one of the biggest arguments when I got from callers making surgical appointments when I worked for boss man was about our hospital policy regarding current vaccinations on all surgical patients. If they weren't current, then we did them at an extra charge, and the clients were screaming.
Would you sit in a room with people sneezing without covering? Would you accept a drink or food from a waiter who you saw  take a taste before they set your food on the table? Would you shake hands with someone who just sneezed into theirs? Then why in all that's holy would you want your unvaccinated pet in for surgery with all the germs floating around the hospital?
As I explained here it is impossible to live in a bubble or keep our pets in one. Even humans get horrible infections in the hospital, as do pets. Exposure is everywhere. It has nothing to do with how clean or careful you are.
Vaccines aren't 100%  foolproof but they can exponentially increase the survival rate of a deadly disease. Getting vaccinations are cheap compared to the cost of hospitalization. Pretty cheap insurance worth having.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Happy Ostara!!

Happy first day of Spring, or Ostara, Vernal Equinox, or whatever you celebrate. Springtime means something different to everyone, but to most it's the signal of rebirth or new beginnings.
I finally got a new job as a receptionist at a veterinary clinic. This job is different in the sense that I don't do as much catwrangling as I did when I worked for Boss Man. I mostly just check people in and charge them out and don't get to spend much time with their pets.
The clinic I'm at is attached to a city animal shelter, and one of the functions of the clinic is to spay and neuter the pets that have been adopted. We have our share of the sadness that goes with it, but since the subject is new beginnings, I'll talk about my favorite part of the job.
I love checking out the new adoptees to their new humans. These animals have been either lost or dumped by their former owners, and stuck in a cage with others while an attempt is made to find their people. When they are put up for adoption, they get visits by a bunch of strangers in hopes that someone will find a place for them. Then they get shipped to us where they undergo surgery and a few hours later go home with someone who is a stranger to them.
So called experts say that we shouldn't assign human emotions to animals. But anyone who gets the honor of giving them to their new people know better. I know what they've been through before this day.  I sense their reluctance when I gently lift them out of the cage. As I carry them into the crowded room, they see their new human and ears perk up, tails wag, and cats purr. Somehow, they just know. And I'm drowning in a puddle of snot trying not to cry.
It's the coolest thing ever.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Vetiquette: The Second Opinion

It happens to all of us: A pet has a condition that's threatening to empty our savings account. We love our pet, but there is the thought in the back of our heads that maybe we can save a bit of money if we go somewhere else. People we know tell us " MY vet only charged me half as much for the same thing."
Vets can vary widely on their pricing. Unless it's life threatening, you may have some time to shop the price. Keep one simple thing in mind: Shopping prices will cost you.
Unlike getting your car or house painted, vet estimates are not free. You don't shop prices for surgeries on your kids. You have to physically bring your pet in for an exam from the doctor you want the estimate from. Laws governing veterinary practices are very similar to those governing human medical practices. A vet must physically see the patient or risking losing a license.
I've had people call me on the phone while their pet is being prepped for surgery. Estimates from other places tossed across my desk. Owners asking ME to look at their pet and give them an estimate, for free, of course. And of all the issues I've had to discuss with owners that are less than happy, the second opinion answer is the one that creates the most anger : we can't do anything until the vet sees the pet first. I've been cussed out, sworn at, and had stuff thrown at me. In the time owners have spent arguing with me over it, their pet could have been seen and had an estimate given.
Sure, simple spays and neuters can have estimates given over the phone, but other things are more complicated and what is needed depends on the pet's age and condition.
Be prepared to spend the cost of an exam when asking for a second opinion. Bring all records, medications, blood test results and x rays with you when you come for your appointment. Feel free to ask questions. When you see the estimate, it is okay to ask if certain things are necessary, or whether they are optional.