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Tread Lightly, Veterinarians Behaving Badly

veterinarians behaving badly

Veterinarians Behaving Badly, what on Earth are you thinking??

Every profession has its challenges, and it’s true, veterinarians do see our fair share of kooky pet owners. But we are all guilty of making unreasonable demands of service people, and I can’t imagine any pet owner who would enjoy having their visit detailed on your blog for thousands of people to laugh at.

The public pays our bills. And the public does not want their trusted family veterinarian saying unkind, hurtful things in a VERY public forum, all the while hiding under a cloak of anonymity. Complain to your close friends, your colleagues in private, whatever gets you through the day, but please, for the love of Pete, don’t do it in public.

Writing is often very therapeutic. Lots of people enjoy humorous writing, including that which highlights our own human faults. There are plenty of customer service blogs out there that gently and playfully make light of difficult service situations. It IS possible to be funny, without being disrespectful. I hope you run out of “huh huh, clients are dumb, huh huh” stories soon, because they make me really uncomfortable.

By all means, write about humerous veterinary topics. This job is HARD! Just please, eliminate the name calling, the I-know-more-stuff-than-you-do attitude, and the anonymous client-bashing. We can surely laugh at ourselves without being mean.

The public turns to veterinarians for trusted advice, and have for 250 years. Any attention a veterinary blog garners is because of the respect earned through the hard work of our predecessors, thousands of men and women who worked their butts off for little pay and a good night’s sleep.

Whether they agree with us or not, the public listens to vets. Please use your voice to help our honorable profession, not hurt it.

  • Lee

    Skimmed it, and while I found some of the stories amusing, I was a little alarmed that there were a lot of identifying details. Clients could easily recognize themselves or be recognized by others. (How many people own 1000 rats? Wait, maybe I don’t want to know…). Comes across as unprofessional, but I guess the title gives that away. Its as if the stress folder on VIN got copied and pasted onto a blog. Probably not good PR.

    • Person

      But many of the stories involve people treating their pets badly- and it’s practices seen over and over… letting the pet’s yearly check-ups, vaccinations, small health problems slide until the pet is at death’s door. Or people taking their pets’ medication. A veterinarian, in a professional setting, cannot confront the owner. A pet owner can freely abuse the vet, telling them that the procedure costs too much, if the vet loved animals they would treat the animal, and so forth, but the vet is not really free to reply.
           So in a way, a comedic blog can serve two purposes- it can let vets know that they are not alone in dealing with some of these problems… and it can help members of the public realize some of the challenges vets face, in a humorous way. And maybe, just maybe, the people taking their pets pills, or skipping from vet to vet because they don’t like what each vet is telling them.. will realize that the vets and staff are not blind- they know what’s going on (and in some wonderful world where people have shared values, maybe the pet owners behaving badly would get embarrassed and pull it together). Just saying. It’s not really snarky to complain about people expecting free treatment or blaming a vet for their pet’s health problems because they cannot take responsibility for themselves.

      • Greg Magnusson, DVM

        As Lee mentioned, there exist veterinary boards where professionals can exchange ideas and challenges in private, so vets can “know that they are not alone”.

        It has never been a veterinarian’s job to “confront” the public, and I hope our profession never degrades to that level. Our job is to educate and inform. Owners pay for our professional opinion; if they pay for advice and don’t take it, that is their prerogative as the customer. There are certainly respectful, open ways veterinarians can educate the general public, if that is your goal.

        Listen, I’ll make this real easy for you. If you can’t attach your name, practice location, address and phone number to a comment you want to publish online, don’t publish it. You’re not a toddler hiding behind your mommy, you’re a licensed professional. If you have something to say, start a blog at your own practice and say it, and see what your clients have to say in response. You’ll learn real fast where the line between “snarky” and “disrespectful” is.

  • Vets BehavingBadly

    I just want to be heard – I want people to know what I’m thinking, even if I can’t say it in person.

    Regarding the general snarky tone of the VBB, I gather you do not appreciate it, and that’s fine. I happen to love snark. That’s why I read Dr Grumpy, and so many other blogs which are essentially people in some type of customer service position bitching about the people they need to serve.

    Let’s get real – anyone who deals with the public is going to deal with people from all walks of life. And some walks of life are friendlier and more understanding, or more beautiful, or more intellectually curious than others. Some walks of life just suck.

    I don’t know where you went to school, but I had a (very well respected) professor speak for a good 20 minutes one day about the importance of learning to use the “gutter language” that our clients would require us to use so that they could understand, because there would be many of them who did not know what it meant to “urinate” or “defecate,” and we would be required to say “piss” and “shit” to make ourselves understood. I shit you not. That’s a whole blog post right there, isn’t it? I’m gonna go get right on that. Catch you later, dude.

  • Christine

    Thank you for posting this. As far as I can tell your predictions have come true. They really do need to define who they are writing for so that commenters don’t get attacked. I have suggested to them that they have an ‘About’ page so that people know what their purpose is. All I can say is I would never see a vet who would not at least discuss things with me if I had a differing opinion. I find it interesting that they think they are like Dr. Grumpy’s blog. Nothing could be further from the truth. I have been reading his blog for a very long time and I find him to be funny and irreverent, never insulting to his patients or readers. I have just subscribed to your blog and I look forward to reading more.

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