When Owners Won't Take My Second Opinion

Second Opinions

I had a client last month who ranted and raged about the fact that her “prize bitch” had almost been unjustifiably spayed by her previous vet. I might have sympathized with her point of view had it been clear that her dog had been done wrong. But she hadn’t. Her dog was suffering from a disease and needed to lose her “girl parts.” Period.

It’s never fun when a new client walks through your door yelling — for the entire lobby to hear! — about something that another vet said, did, implied or recommended. We do our best to handle these situations with the kind of patience and aplomb that comes with a career spent handling people who are batty about their animals.

This is why I took freaky dog lady into the nearest empty room (radiology is always good for that) and urged her to see things my way: “Your dog may or may not require x, y or z procedure to alter her reproductive status, but it's between you and me now. I don’t need to know anything about your experience elsewhere. It’s all about the here and now, OK?”

That was my introductory pitch, anyway. In this case, she relented, and I was golden — for the time being.

There was no mistaking the fact that this dog’s ovaries and uterus would have to be removed. She’d been bleeding almost every day since her last delivery 18 months earlier — and there’s only so much a veterinarian can do in the face of such incontrovertible evidence in favor of spaying. I even reiterated to the owner that the canine reproduction specialists I’d consulted had consistently advised sterilization in such cases.

I get that it can be hard to hear things you’d rather not, especially when they come from the mouths of nonspecialists. So I urged my client to take her dog to the leading canine reproduction specialist in the country if she wanted to do everything possible to preserve her bitch’s reproductive status.

Her reply: “You veterinarians are all the same. You’re all in cahoots. All you want is to pass the buck, so that more and more of you can take my money.”

Sometimes second opinions are a bitch.


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