Friday, February 10, 2012

Emotionally drained.

This week was long and frustrating.  Case after case came in with $20 or less available to fix life threatening illnesses.  As you all know, veterinary care isn't free; in fact, nothing in life is free.  I can't count the number of times I've been called names, yelled at, or told that I don't even care about animals, and the reality is that those statements couldn't be further from the truth.  It hurts each and every time I have to deny an animal care it needs - because it's never the animal's fault.  We do what we can to provide affordable care, but unfortunately like any small business, we have to be able to pay our employees, pay for our equipment, electricity, water, rent, restock our shelves, and at the end of the day, be able to pay our own personal mortgages, school loans, and afford food.  There's a very, very small limit to what we can do without payment.  This isn't a matter of loving animals enough - it's a matter of the costs of keeping a business running.

Unfortunately, when faced with this, some of my clients turn into an extra-special form of nasty.  Personal choice involving money are a complicated and emotionally charged issue, and I am definitely no expert in sociology or economics, however I can point out a few especially frustrating observations:

1.  Don't call me a money-grubbing asshole if you are driving a new Lexus SUV (Mercedes, BMW, etc), wearing more diamonds on your hands than a small country's worth, and carrying a Prada bag. You  have chosen to spend money on other (ridiculously unnecessary!) things, and it is NOT MY FAULT that now you have terrible credit.

2.  If you think of your dog/cat as "your child," and you then why did you notice that it stopped eating and started vomiting TWO WEEKS ago, and do nothing about it until 2am tonight, when your dog/cat is unable to move, and in critical condition?

3.  Don't try to guilt me into treating your pet for free because you paid your taxes this year! (Someone actually stormed into my office and demanded care with the statement "Where does my f***** tax money go, anyway"!!!) Veterinary hospitals are not owned, operated, or supported by government funds!

4.  If your friends, family members, neighbors, and multi-million dollar credit card companies refuse to let you borrow money, then how can you possibly expect my clinic to take on that risk?

5.  If you choose to do drugs, whatever.  If you choose to drive yourself to our clinic, high on heroin, and demand free care, whatever.  HOWEVER, if you do these above two things and bring a CHILD with you.... you can bet your ass I'll be calling the police to pick you up and take that kid away from you, you sick evil bastard.

6. (Unrelated to #5) I'm sorry, I can't hold your child (yes, adult human child) for collateral.  Don't even bring it up again, or I'm calling the police.

7. Furthermore, no, I can't pawn your clothes and jewelry.  I'm a doctor, not a pawn-shop owner or a consignment shop.

These are just a few examples of the depths to which people can sink when they feel trapped.  Don't get me wrong, I empathize with anyone who is in a crisis with limited resources, however as the recipient of the nastiness, it gets really hard not to take it personally.  There's only so much a person can take, and in the ER, we get way more than our fair share.

It's been a full week filled with this emotionally draining, burn-out producing crap, and I'm ready for a new leaf.  Here's hoping for a good weekend at work.



  1. A-freakin-men!! Do you think it would be bad for business if I posted this in the lobby? Lol.

  2. Wow, you've put some light of what I get to look forward to in 6 years. I can't believe someone wanted to use their child as collateral.

  3. not having money sucks. but that's why i don't take on more responsibility than my funds will allow. i only take in a number of animals that i know i can care for.