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2013-2014: Pet Peeves And Positive Signs

The end of each year is a reflective time for many us. It’s a time to look back on the things we did well and the things we did poorly; and to use the lessons of our triumphs and failures to set goals that will optimize our success in the New Year. I take this concept to a higher degree than most, necessitating of course, that I blog and podcast about it this time every year. J Many things that occur to us in the course of the year we have 100% control over, while others, we have little, partial, or no control.

Government Gone Really Bad

2013 highlighted perhaps the worst example of government I have seen in my lifetime, with political partisan gridlock taking precedence over the people our elected officials represent. I do not need to remind anyone that this led to the government shutdown of 2013, as well as the near (and potentially catastrophic) default on our debt.

Many Americans were angered, but unaffected by the dysfunction of Washington and either ignored the news or simply sat back in their loungers and chose sides in the debacle, taking whatever position their political talking head du jour spoon-fed them. For others, this was not a left versus right, donkey versus elephant game, cheering for one’s favorite ideological team to win, but a situation that sought to damage a slow and steady but fragile economic recovery, and put their lives and families in serious financial jeopardy.

My veterinary practice is in an area very much directly affected by the actions of our government, in an area known as the Florida Space Coast that is home to NASA, Patrick’s Airforce Base, and an alphabet of defense contracting companies. As the shutdown progressed, as politicians pointed fingers and bickered like school children, I watched friends, family, and clients be told to stay home from their jobs, as they could not be paid.

Not knowing when the shutdown would end and not knowing how a final deal would affect their employment, people with children to feed and clothe and mortgages to pay, were rightfully scared.  During that three-week period my clinic was so quiet, one could hear crickets. Meanwhile, I had a medical team’s salary to pay, and all of the other financial obligations that come with a full service veterinary hospital.  Every small business in my county suffered the same circumstances, all manufactured by our own government.

What I learned from this experience is that our currently elected officials have less regard for the wellbeing of the American people, than they do about advancing an ideological agenda, or the agenda of special interest groups that fund their campaigns. If course, I was previously not so naïve to be unaware that to a large degree this has really always been the case with politicians, but this was the worst example of it I have seen to date…and I do not see it getting any better anytime soon.

 As a result, while I still must pay some attention to government, be informed and exercise my right to vote to at least try to make a difference; I have lost faith in our political system. I know that they are far more capable of doing the American populace harm, than they are in creating good. I have begun assertive but conservative financial planning, knowing that social security will not be there for my generation, as well as aggressively investing in my children’s education, preparing for the ever skyrocketing costs of college education. While I want to equip my practice with all possible state of the art equipment and tools, knowing that my government’s actions can pull down our economy on a dime, I instead wait for a time when medical equipment can be purchased in cash rather than risk financing them.

2014 will be a mid-term election year. While there is little we can do to influence the all too often hyper-partisan House of Representatives whose members represent highly partisan small districts (and thus continue to get elected no matter how much trouble they cause), I will be looking at political seats that must answer to a larger portion of the electorate: US Senators, Governors, and the US Presidency (although this will mostly be primaries until 2016 – oh joy!).  I will be less interested in political party and ideology than I will in a candidate’s willingness to work with the other side, as well as have the résumé to back up that sentiment.

Hope in Our Economy

Bad government notwithstanding, for the first time since 2008, I am seeing some real optimism about the economy. Unemployment has dipped 7%, the economy had very strong growth in the last quarter of 2013 (4.1% according to bloomberg.com). Pet owners seem generally more willing to spend money on important but often ignored elective procedures such as dentistry, alternative medical therapy, as well as investing in optimal nutrition. Many pet owners who felt compelled to elect yearly immunizations from shot wagons and discount vaccine clinics, have returned to enjoy the benefits of comprehensive wellness visits that a full service veterinary hospital provides for their pets.

Veterinary Medical Technologies Have Never Been More Cutting Edge

2013 saw the rise of stem cell technology enabling treatment of all manner of degenerative diseases and injuries. Combined with PRP (platelet rich plasma), therapy laser and the use of hyperbaric chambers, our ability repair damaged tissue has increased by leaps and bounds this past year.

 However, these technologies are all too often cost prohibitive for a lot of pet owners, which means that our next task will be to make these technologies more affordable and therefore available to the average pet owner.

 Thank you to all of my readers, listeners and viewers. I am touched by the fact that so many of you take the time to read about my experiences and how I feel the pet world may benefit from sharing them. I extend a special thanks to those who not only read, listen or view my work, but to contribute your thoughts by posting here at the blog, calling into my live podcast or commenting on my YouTube page.

 Happy 2014 to each and every one of you! I look forward to continuing our conversations throughout the New Year!

Dr. Roger Welton is the President of Maybeck Animal Hospital and CEO/Chief Editor of the veterinary information and blog online community, Web-DVM.

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