Letter to the Editor - December 20: Vets under-appreciated

IT WAS with considerable dismay that I read a recent "Thumbs Down" about vet fees.

I find it hard to believe there remain members of the public who are under the impression a veterinarian has the responsibility to provide care for their pet when they have demonstrably failed to do so themselves.

Members of the veterinary profession are under considerable pressure from their professional body to provide the very highest level of care for their patients. On the other hand, a small number of pet owners make no attempt to provide for the wellbeing of their pet, expecting the vet to treat their pets at discounted rates, provide accounts and provide care but not charge anything for that care. No other profession or business is expected to work for nothing.

There was a time when a veterinarian, knowing the plight of a client, would discount rates and treat a pet at no cost, however the comment in Thumbs Down seems to show this is now something expected of veterinarians. There is no other profession or business in Coffs Harbour expected to provide any service or product at a discount for any reason, why does this expectation exist in relation to vets?

Veterinary fees and those charged by any other medical profession cannot be compared as Australians enjoy the benefit of Medicare and the vast majority of medicines prescribed are heavily subsidised by the government. None of this is true for veterinary care of a pet.

With this level of bad press and criticism is it any wonder then that vets suffer from the highest levels of depression, substance abuse and divorce rates of any profession? More disturbingly, a vet is four times more likely to commit suicide than a member of the general population.

Good veterinary medicine is not cheap and cheap veterinary medicine is not good. Perhaps the small group of individuals who cannot afford to keep pets should not keep pets.

Dr Mark Kallman

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