to pad our bottom line. As a veterinarian watching this special, it made my skin crawl to watch as they aimed to prove their point through out of context snippets, trick camera angles, and conjecture. More recently was an article posted by the Indianapolis Star, which implicated veterinarians in working in league with big pharma and very much for sale, ready to push the drugs and immunizations of the drug companies most willing to pad our pockets.
I have stated time and again, that if a veterinarian’s primary motive were money, any one of us could have found a much more lucrative home in human medicine making 2-5 times the salary of a veterinarian. With no disrespect to our human medical counterparts, the reality is that it is 7 times easier to find acceptance in medical school than veterinary school simply because there are so many more medical school. But instead, we chose the more competitive and challenging, yet far less lucrative route of veterinary medicine because our primary motivation was, is, and always will be the innocent creatures that we treat.
Also, the notion that big pharma lines out pockets is preposterous…not only does that simply not happen (veterinarians are small potatoes compared to the money big pharma makes in human medicine and medical devices); what the Indianapolis Star is suggesting is illegal. Aside from an occasional lunch and learn (a pharmaceutical rep brings the staff lunch to educate us on new products and/or existing product updates), pharmaceuticals offer us nothing to sell their products. Between product back orders, convincing us to carry their products then turning around and enabling internet pharmacies to sell them in mass quantities for lower retail than they charge us for wholesale; big pharma offers us more headaches than perks. This is true to the point that many industry experts foresee the veterinary medical profession getting out of the pet medication game altogether within 3-5 years; with the disparities that big pharma creates for us making the veterinary in-hospital pharmacy unsustainable.
With no shortage of villains to expose to a public so eager for the next scandal du jour, it is beyond reasoning why the media decided to target veterinarians in 2014. While there are bound to be bad apples in any profession, the truth is I veterinary medicine, they are the vast minority, not the commonplace status quo that some media sources would have you believe.
Rescuing Is In
I cannot speak for national statistics, but my locality is rarely a microcosm, unreflective of national trends. In the case of more people choosing to adopt rescue pets in lieu of purchasing puppies and kittens from breeders and pet stores, I hope that my local trend of increased rescue adoption is representative of a greater national trend. Through pet owner education (one on one discussion, local media sources, and social media), awareness of the plight of overcrowded kill animal shelters (many with appalling conditions) spread through local rescue groups with increasing political clout, the efforts of many finally seem to be paying off. Case in point, shelter euthanasias are down by nearly 30% in 2014 in the county in which I live ad practice.
While we will never completely resolve the plague of puppy mills, catteries, and backyard breeders, nor shelter overcrowding; 2014 has taught us that through the vigilance of volunteers and pet health care professionals working together, we can continue to chip away at the problems, and over time, make a significant difference.
Happy New Year to all! I look forward to writing and podcasting to you in 2015. Thank you for the privilege of your readership/listenership!
Dr. Roger Welton is the President of Maybeck Animal Hospital in West Melbourne, FL, Chief Editor of the Veterinary Advice and Information Website, Web-DVM, and founder/CEO of Dr. Roger’s Holistic Veterinary Care.