That's up from 98 million in 1980s.
For that, we spend about $35 billion annually in vet care.
Some or a lot of that might be wasted. Or, worse, be forked over to corporate-owned vet practices which foist on us loving pet parents procedures which put the animals' life at risk. Those range from unnecessary vaccinations to too-frequent or inappropriate teeth cleaning under anesthetic.
All that comes out in a chilling Bloomberg Businessweek expose by Jason Clenfield. Titled "The Age of Big Vet," here is a copy of that January 9th to January 15th 2017 article.
The takeaway from the article is: The healthcare for our cats and dogs might be compromised to maximize corporate profits.
My immediate response is to ask around the neighborhood here in Small Town Ohio for the name of a non-corporate vet. I will end my relationship with the corporate vet center I had depended on in Connecticut and Arizona.
Not that the care-givers at BigVet have done much more than pushing services and perhaps over-vaccinating. At least, not so far. But the trust I had has been shattered by Clenfield's detailed reporting.
Not that the Normal-Rockwell type of solo vet isn't out to increase profits. In CT, I ditched two for just that reason.
What one solo pushed ranged from expensive special diets to demanding payment before future services were rendered. Regarding the latter, for tests which were scheduled down the line, the fee was bundled in with those for services which had already been done. It took a close reading of the bill for me to pick that up.
However, it seems standard at BigVet for a long list of services to be described on our initial visit. When I brought in my rescue dog for his post-adoption wellness check-up, the vet described a $2,000 surgery which, she claimed, was recommended for the breed. Their hind legs may pop out of the sockets. However, during the past four years that has happened less and less. And always when they did, they popped right back in. No one in my residential complex who are pet parents for that same breed ever had the operation done.
That same dog, it turned out, has developed a heart condition. On a scale of 1 to 6 in severity, he is at a 4. Also, he is an older dog. But, still, teeth cleaning under anesthetic has been introduced as a service I should, as a good pet parent, consider.
Unfortunately, unlike human healthcare, what vets do isn't highly regulated. In fact, their malpractice insurance is only about $20 monthly. The regulation factor may be one that we pet parents can lobby, on the state level, to change.
Meanwhile, local journalists can do the same kind of investigative reporting in their own communities which Clenfield did on a national level. The threat of that may, in itself, deter corporate vet facilities from unethical to life-threatening practices. They will never know if that loving pet parent is commissioned by the metro newspaper to out their alleged greed.
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