As a regional veterinarian practicing for 36 years, I was saddened by the Oct. 9 letter, “Vet costs contributing to homeless-pets problem.”
I am grateful the letter writer adopted her dog to provide a good home for an otherwise-"homeless" pet. I understand that the cost of providing good dental care for animals is substantial, because I perform this demanding work daily in my practice.
It is important for pet owners to recognize the enormous investment veterinarians make of their time and their personal sacrifice to become accepted into veterinary college, to undergo four years of rigorous training, and to continue learning daily for their professional career.
Recognizing both the enormous cost of professional education (the average student loan debt for 2016 for veterinary-school graduates was $167,534; more than 20% owe at least $200,000) and the actual cost of providing care to patients is very important. The costs involved in providing good quality care to veterinary patients are not readily visible to the public, and this requires the veterinary profession to educate its clients about these costs.
Clients expect all veterinary care to be of the highest standard, and our profession has worked diligently to meet those expectations. But there is a substantial cost inherent to this goal.
I hope the care the letter writer’s dog received provided substantial value to her and her dog, by addressing the chronic pain and infection that advanced dental disease can cause. We know that almost all pets develop progressive, serious dental disease without regular annual dental care. I hope her veterinarian is truly recognized for the dedication, work, and compassion provided to patients and clients every day.
The writer is president of the Arrowhead Veterinary Medical Association.