Not Really Feline Your Prejudice

, , , , , | Working | September 20, 2018

(I’m a veterinary technician, and at times I also cover the phones. I receive a phone call from a pet rescue group asking for information on the previous and current pets of a client who filled out a form to adopt a cat from their group. The client has given us permission to release any information.)

Me: “They’ve previously had two pets with us, and everything looks up to standards; they were up-to-date on vaccinations and neutered and spayed.”

(Usually just this is enough information.)

Woman: “So, they no longer have pets? Did they not take care of them? Did they give them away? Because, you know, I just want to make sure. This is a young couple.”

Me: “Um… They never missed an annual exam, they never refused vaccines or treatments, and it looks like their pets died of generic, age-related illness.”

Woman: “Hmph. I’m just not sure.”

Me: “Honestly, they are as perfect as clients as you can get. They even bought their flea, tick, and heartworm prevention directly from us and never lapsed in giving it, even in the winter. This cat will be going to a loving home.”

Woman: “Well, I think I’m going to deny their application. They just got married, so they’ll probably have a baby soon and then toss the cat out.”

(In hindsight, I should probably have asked for her name and reported her to her superiors. It was six years ago and it still upsets me!)

Fluffy Never Did Like That Sheep

, , , , | Healthy | September 15, 2018

(Tapeworm infections are not uncommon in our area. Thankfully, they are easily treated, and in the case of dogs, easily prevented. Cats are harder because they can get the worms from eating infected rodents, but dogs cannot. Generally, when a dog has tapeworms, that means they have at some point in the past had fleas. The flea larvae ate a tapeworm egg, and then the flea grew up and the dog ate the flea. Every case of canine tapeworms I have ever diagnosed can be traced back to fleas. So, when I prescribe tapeworm medication, I also make sure the pet is on a monthly flea control — either drops or pills. I have just finished explaining this to a woman whose toy poodle has tested positive for tapeworms.)

Owner: “Well, that is impossible. [Cutesy name that is longer than the dog] has never had fleas. You said, ‘generally,’ so there is another way, right?”

Me: “Well, yes, but–”

Owner: “Then that is obviously how it happened. [Dog] is groomed regularly, and we have a maid service and a gardener, so there is absolutely no way she could have been exposed to icky bugs.”

Me: “Well, I mean, in theory–”

Owner: “Theory nothing! [Dog] is in pristine condition without any of those monthly drops that common mutts need. So, we will be treating the tapeworms she got by the other method, but we will not be taking flea medications.”

Me: “I’m sorry, ma’am, but there is just no way–”

Owner: “Look here, missy. I know [Head Doctor at the practice], and if I have to call him and tell him that you think my pedigreed poodle has fleas, nobody is going to be happy.”

Me: *sigh* “Okay, but I have one question for you.”

Owner: “Yes?”

Me: “How did she get the sheep’s skull open?”

Owner: “What?!”

Me: “If [Dog] didn’t get tapeworms from fleas, then the only way would be if she killed a sheep and ate its brains. So, please tell me, how did she kill the sheep?”

Owner: *blushes* “So… maybe there could have been one flea, once.”

Guys And Dollies

, , , , , , | Friendly | September 7, 2018

(I work in a vet’s office. My coworker Meredith and I have been friends since we were small children. She is not, and never has been, a feminine woman. She has short, spiked hair and almost no curves on her body, and could without much effort pass as a teenage boy. I work the front desk and she works in the exam rooms, so I am used to clients checking out and saying things like, “That young man in the room was so nice,” or, “Tell the doctor that I loved the way that gentleman handled my cat.” Meredith knows they don’t mean anything by it, so she says to not bother correcting them. If they ask directly something like, “What was that nice man’s name?” I won’t lie, because I enjoy the looks on people’s faces. One day we have a new client come in, and on his way out we have the following conversation.)

Client: “Hey, that ‘girl’–” *he actually does air quotes* “–in the room, what was ‘her’ name?”

Me: “You mean Meredith?”

Client: “Yeah, ‘Meredith.’ Is that the legal name, or just what you call ‘her’?”

Me: “Legal.”

Client: “So ‘she’ had it changed then?”

Me: “Yes.”

Client: *turns to his wife* “See? I told you; I can always spot them. That one wasn’t even all that hard.”

Me: *interjects* “It was Dolly.”

Client: “What?”

Me: “The name on her birth certificate is Dolly. But she said that made it hard to be taken seriously, so she had it legally changed about ten years ago.”

(The man turned multiple shades of red and stormed off, while his wife started laughing.)

A Controlled Substance For A Controlling Patient

, , , | Healthy | September 1, 2018

Me: “Thank you for calling [Animal Hospital]. This is [My Name]. How can I help you?”

Client: “Hi, I just moved from [State] and need a refill of phenobarbital for my dog.”

(Phenobarbital is used as a seizure medication in dogs, and it is a controlled substance because of its potential for abuse.)

Me: “Okay, we actually can’t get you any medication without examining your dog, but I would be happy to set up an appointment for you. Then we can certainly get your dog some medication. We have a few appointments left today, or we could set something up at a more convenient time.”

Client: “I don’t want an exam; he just needs more of his seizure medication.”

Me: “Ma’am, we can’t prescribe him anything without an exam first.”

Client: “But he’s been on it for years; you can ask my old vet.”

Me: “Unfortunately, one veterinary clinic is not able to act as a pharmacy for a different veterinarian. We cannot give you any medication without examining your dog.”

(At this point my coworkers are starting to listen to my end of the phone call, amused as I repeat myself.)

Client: “But he just needs his medication.”

Me: “I’m sorry, ma’am, but a vet must have a relationship with a patient in order to prescribe any medication. It’s not just a clinic policy; if one of our doctors prescribed you medication without examining your dog she could lose her license.”

Client: “Ugh, how much would an exam cost?”

Me: “$46.”

Client: “I think I’ll call some other places first.”

Me: “Have a great day. Give us a call if you decide to come in for an exam.”

(I hang up the phone.)

Me: *to my watching coworkers* “She can call around all she wants, but she’s not going to find a vet who will prescribe a controlled substance to a dog he’s never examined.”

Not Being Sedate About It

, , | Healthy | August 10, 2018

(I’m a vet in a country town in Australia. Here, certain prescription drugs for farm animals can be dispensed for use without us seeing the animals, as long as a vet has been onto the property in the previous 12 months. This is rarely an issue, as we go to most farms on a regular basis to do routine work; however, I have trained the receptionists to check a client’s file every time they order drugs, just to confirm when we were last out there. For some background info, a common practice for shearing sheep is to sedate full grown rams, just enough to make them a bit easier to handle, as rams can often weigh as much or more than your average shearer, and can hurt you if they decide to put up a fight. These days, almost all shearers refuse to shear rams without sedation. The sedative used is, of course, a prescription drug, although to my knowledge it is no longer used in people. I haven’t been at this practice very long, so I don’t really know anyone. My boss, on the other hand, has been a vet for a while and knows just about everyone in the community. I’m sure you can see where this is going:)

Receptionist: “[Client] is out the front, wanting [Sedative] for 60 rams. The shearers are coming today, but we haven’t been to the property in over four years. He won’t listen to me at all. Can you please talk to him?”

Me: *heading out to front desk* “Hello, [Client], I believe you’re wanting [Sedative]? [Receptionist] has already told you we can’t give it to you. We haven’t been to your farm for a while now.”

Client: “That’s bulls***. [Boss] gives it to me all the time!”

Me: “Well, I’m not [Boss], so I’m not giving it to you without a farm visit.”

Client: “Come on. Everyone knows I’ve got sheep. What the h*** else would I use [Sedative] for?”

Me: “I don’t know, but people get creative. I don’t know who you are, and I’ve never been to your farm, so I have no idea if you actually have sheep or not.”

Client: “So, you’re going to charge me to come out to my property so that you can see I’m not lying to you. That’s bulls***.”

Me: “That’s exactly right, [Client]. It’s the law. If I get caught dispensing drugs inappropriately, I can get into serious trouble and possibly lose my licence, permanently. I am not prepared to risk years of hard work and a job I love just so you can save $150. Just because [Boss] does it, that does not mean I have to do it. So, either I come out to your farm, or you wait until [Boss] is back in the clinic, and you can take it up with him.”

Client: “Oh…” *suddenly goes very quiet* “I didn’t know you guys could get in trouble.”

Me: “That’s okay. I suspect [Boss] doesn’t, either, which is probably why he just gives it out. Now, I can be at your farm in about an hour; will that be okay?”

Client: “Yes, thank you.”

(Everything went smoothly after that, and [Client] even gave me a box of chocolates to apologise for being difficult. My boss very quickly changed how he worked once I showed him the legislation, and backed me up if other clients ever came in to argue. The original client was also good enough to spread the word around town, and within six months we stopped having issues.)

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