In response to a recent Marketplace story on Veterinary gouging.

Like any fee for service business in Canada, you must do your homework and ensure you get value for your investment.  You wouldn’t get a brake job without a quote, so you should research the costs of pet ownership based on species, breed, lifestyle and life expectancy.  Likewise you would expect top quality brake pads, brake fluid and a licenced mechanic to perform and guarantee the work.  From the first year cost, to the annual healthy pet wellness and disease prevention exams, as well as senior wellness exams, research with your veterinary team the products, the costs and the benefits of the quality you are buying..

At Mississippi Veterinary Services, vaccines are on a case by case basis.  We take into consideration previous vaccination status, risk of exposure, titres as well as risk to people around the pet.  Many of our vaccines are staggered.  This means you may get 1 vaccine a year, but up to a 3 year span between like vaccines.  Remember for most pets a yearly check up is relative to a human only getting a check up every 7-10 years.  A lot can change during that time.  The health of your pet also affects human public health.

We would certainly quote any procedure, examination etc. to clients, as well as offer pet insurance, payment and wellness programs.

Check out this rebuttal posted today, by accredited VeterinarianDr. Tyler J. O’Neill B.Sc., D.V.M., M.Sc.(Epi.) Ph.D. candidate  and School of Public Health University of Toronto

Biased journalism at its finest. Public funded “reporting” shoots for ratings over accuracy, surprised? The side of the cost of vet care you don’t hear (or want to hear). September 19, 2013 at 3:26pm Home Cost of Vet Care Isn’t “Barking Mad”

It is shocking that the CBC continues to undermine a fee-for-service health profession in Canada time and time again. I understand that publicly funded television is difficult to encourage the general population to view, but drawing them in with senseless journalism is just insulting. Based on your previous episodes highlighting the costs of veterinary medicine, I’m sure it will continue to be biased in favour of the consumer. This also begs the question regarding the redundant nature of this query from your viewers.

What the general pet-owning population should understand is that owning a pet is both a responsibility to a living animal and a choice. I don’t force my clients go out and purchase a Great Dane puppy, and subsequently cause it to have skin disease, genetic predispositions to have conformational abnormalities requiring gastric surgeries, or have the feeding requirement of a hippopotamus on a daily basis. What I can do is provide the best quality of medical or surgical care for the Great Dane (or any other pet for that matter) based on the disease(s) that it presents to the clinic. How can the end provider be held completely accountable for the costs of medicine when our costs are equivalent to those provided to the owners. It would be insightful (which likely means overlooked/neglected/ignored) for the CBC to compare equivalent procedures in human medicine (including dentistry, chiropractic, etc) to that in veterinary medicine. Also look that exorbitant fiscal waste in public health care that goes to redundant employees, overpaid physicians, unionized environments, back-room deals with pharmaceutical companies etc etc all driving the price of health care to an unsustainable existence. But people perceive it as “free”. Last time I checked, I paid almost 0.42$ to the government for every dollar I make. A huge portion of that goes to “free” public health care (which I wouldn’t trade for anything in the world); but let’s just call a spade a spade.

In addition, look at the differential in median net salary by veterinarians by region (NOT province, as that would be biased towards urban-centric areas) compared to our healthcare providing colleagues. I understand that I consciously chose to enter a profession that underpays; but the argument can thus be extended to pet owners regarding their personal expenses.

I also want to acknowledge that, as a Veterinarian, I have a deep understanding of the human-animal bond that all should appreciate. I have clients who may have a pet as their only companion. As I work at a clinic in the downtown core where we have a mixed population of clients, finances vary, but the dedication and love for a pet is deeply rooted. However, I also have clients who think that our Hospital is a charity and we are awful people because we can’t provide services for free (despite offering them the tools to finance their expenses in an empathetic and compassionate way).

So here is a call to action CBC:

1. Present a balanced and factual view on the price of HEALTH CARE in relation to other health professions that are covered by insurance

2. Explain the true costs of pet ownership; and that, like anything, you often get what you pay for.

3. Highlight options for covering costs of veterinary expenses (e.g. pet insurance)

4. Present costs on a regional basis (e.g. it is more expensive to operate a clinic in Toronto then it is in Flin Flon; thus, the prices will be greater. Even the cost of clinics downtown Toronto will be greater then that in suburban areas. The granularity of provincial biased estimates will be too great based on your “sampling” methods).

5. Work with regional and provincial Veterinary Medical Associations to understand the costs associated with health care.

6. Stop bashing vets. It would be a shame if your show lead to lower quality health care for all our pets due to a push back of high costs and one of your pets ended up needing health care, wouldn’t it?

7. Help viewers understand pharmaceutical costs and why we prefer to have medications come from within clinics and not through pharmacies (just recently, a client in the US had her dog die because of inappropriate recommendations from uneducated pharmacists; but I think we would all be in favour of educating pharmacists to help improve continuity of care).

What it comes down to is a disparity between pet owners and educated health professionals understanding of high quality health care and costs.  Don’t be biased towards one side of the opinion CBC. Prove to the viewers that you continue to be worth tax payer’s dollars…


Dr. Tyler J. O’Neill B.Sc., D.V.M., M.Sc.(Epi.) Ph.D. candidate, Division of Epidemiology | Dalla Lana School of Public Health University of Toronto |