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« Weekly Roundup - Week Ending 8/22/10 | Main | Apparent fatal dog attack in California »

August 23, 2010

Comments

Nathan Winograd

It is also worthwhile noting that Los Angeles veterinarians increased their prices after the mandatory sterilization law went into effect, expecting a windfall from the ordinance. This put sterilization further out of reach for those on the bottom rungs of the economic ladder. While admitting it to each other in e-mails ("we can't hide from the fact that vets are raising their prices to a point where people cannot afford the services regardless of vouchers or financial assistance"), they have not been forthright with legislators pushing SB 250 on their behalf.

Brent

I hadn't realized that many vets increased their rates. I do think it's worth mentioning also that even with the voucher system, these really aren't truly "low cost" spay/neuters. Most of the vouchers are only $30 off - -which would still put the cost of the proceedure at over $200 in LA. Even the $70 vouchers are over $150 for the proceedure. Compared to many places that are able to get the costs down to $50 or so (or free), it is still very expensive for someone who is in a tough financial situation.

YesBiscuit!

$30 off - are you serious? They need to do the surgery for $30, not give people a $30 discount. My Mom reminded me recently that we had a dog spayed in CT using a voucher (probably 25 years ago) for $15.

PetDocsOnCall09

@Yesbiscuit, I have to disagree with your statement that these surgeries need to be done for $30. The cost in supplies is close to that (if not higher, depending on types of anesthetics used, etc) and the cost of payroll needs to be factored in as well.

$30 might be a good price for neutering a cat or a dog, but when a 120lb, 5 yr old Rottweiler female (who is in heat) comes in for her surgery, that $30 isn't going to go very far!

We also don't view our pets in the same way as we did 25 years ago. 25 years ago, pain relief medication (another cost)for a spay or neuter was unheard of...now, it's almost malpractice NOT to use pain relieving drugs. 25 years ago, veterinarians could still be found doing surgeries without any attending assistants or technicians.

I agree with low cost spay/neuter options, but I feel that often veterinarians are asked to "donate" a much larger share than the pet owner or the public at large.

Brent

PetDoc,

I don't mean to talk for YB! when I answer this (she can fend for herself) but I don't think I would anticipate that the vets should have to endure the full brunt of the "donation".

We have a coupe of great low-cost spay/neuter clinic here in KC. One in particular offers spay/neuters from free to $75 or so, depending on the income level of the pet owner.

They have a couple of vets on their staff, but also do large MASH clinics each moth where they do high-volumes of spay/neuters. Many local vets donate their time, as well as some students from the two area veterinary schools. The organization donates all of the needed supplies and staffing to do cleanup/sterilization, etc.

Although the spay/neuter organization gets some funding from the city/county, they also rely heavily on donations from the public and grants.

I think the ability to get the costs WAY down really helps get spay/neuter compliance from low-income pet owners, but doesn't put an undue burden on our local veterinary community.

I would hope that vets and the animal welfare community can create mutually beneficial programs like this so no one is asked to give more than other groups -- but that they can work together to make improvements.

PetDocsOnCall09

Brent...you are absolutely correct...both animal welfare groups and veterinarians are needed to fight this fight. The AW groups often have marketing and publicity resources (as well as volunteers to help with check in, clean up, etc) and the veterinarians have the technical expertise and the surgical skills to make it happen.

There are good examples, like you cite, of this happening, but I also see examples where "low cost" spay neuter clinics are set up and little to no oversight happens to insure that low income families are truly served. One local example here in Indy never checked income levels and it quickly became a popular destination for affluent pet owners from areas to the north and west of the city.

Now, maybe I shouldn't be concerned about that, after all, the pet is getting neutered and that's the real issue. But, it just seems inappropriate for someone who makes more money than the veterinarian to be asking (and receiving) low cost subsidies for their pet.

After spending 14 years working in a group of veterinary hospitals and seeing the thin margins most veterinarians make on an annual basis, I might be a little defensive when I see things like "It should only cost $30). It could also be due to the fact that I saw far too many good technicians and even veterinarians leave the profession because many veterinary hospitals can't afford to provide any sort of benefits, like a retirement plan, good health insurance or even competitive wages at times.

Sorry for the highjack...the real point here is that low cost neutering services can be a great source of help for the entire community. I just wish we knew of a way to export the great job you are doing in KC to much of the rest of the US (and even beyond!!).

YesBiscuit!

I don't expect vets to donate all costs above $30 (or whatever the figure). As a personal example, we have a wealthy donor who gave our county money to get pets neutered. This is desperately needed in our poor, rural area of SC. I have been trying to get one of these vouchers to use on an abandoned dog in my neighborhood who has already had one litter of pups. I have yet to reach the conclusion to the story (and maybe ultimately it will work out) but so far it has been nothing but a runaround. I feel quite certain the donor did not give the county money in order for people to be hassled. I'm sure they gave the donation so people could get their pets neutered.
At any rate, there are people in the community (and grants, as Brent mentioned) available to subsidize cost. And perhaps it sounds ludicrous to someone who knows the actual cost for the vet, but charging much more than $30 for subsidized neuter in my area is going to add up to people not neutering their pets.
I'm glad I didn't mention FREE, hehe.

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