ABC’s “20/20” program aired an episode Friday night that focused on veterinary care and the costs related to it – and, quite frankly, called into question the recommendations and ethical practices of some veterinarians. We were highly disappointed in the segment for a variety of reasons, not least among them the fact that ABC chose not to use the bulk of the statement the AVMA provided in advance of the show.
Here is the full statement the AVMA provided:
“A thorough examination and the recommending of veterinary services based on that examination are the basis of good medicine, and they are designed to produce the best care for a specific pet. With the recommendation of the veterinarian, it is ultimately the pet owner’s decision on what services to provide for their pet. Establishing and maintaining a relationship with a veterinarian will assist in this decision-making process.
Veterinarians are seeing an alarming increase in the incidence of preventable conditions such as diabetes, obesity and dental disease in pets. A regular visit to your veterinarian is the best medicine when it comes to preventing illness, catching minor health concerns before they become major issues and ensuring a happy, healthy life for your pet.”
By air time, our statement had been edited into a single sentence: “The American Veterinary Medical Association said in a statement to ABC News that it’s up to pet owners to decide whether to follow a vet’s recommendations.”
We sincerely hope that pet owners will continue to rely on the advice of their own, trusted veterinarian in deciding what treatments are appropriate for their pets. A Veterinarian-Client-Patient Relationship is the cornerstone of veterinary care, and no television show can or should ever take the place of that.
Help in dealing with clients
You may get inquiries from your clients about the show and its content. These may focus on dental care, anesthesia and vaccinations because these were the primary focus of the “20/20” segment. We have resources that can help you answer these questions and educate clients about the importance of the veterinary care you recommend for their pets. These include brochures, YouTube videos and owner-friendly web pages written with your clients in mind:
- Our YouTube channel has a wide range of videos to educate pet owners, including segments focusing on periodontal disease; dental hygiene (including how to brush a pet’s teeth); and the importance of vaccination.
- We also offer a brochure on vaccination, which you can order from our store or download to print for free from your clinic. It’s available in both English and Spanish.
- Our Money Tips for Caring Pet Owners can help educate clients about saving money without putting their pets’ health at risk.
- For clients who want to make sure they’ve considered the right criteria in selecting their veterinarian, we have pages on our web site about finding a veterinarian; tips to consider when selecting a veterinarian; and a brochure on Choosing a Veterinarian that’s available in both English and Spanish. Our veterinary clinic locator, MyVeterinarian.com, also can help clients find a new veterinarian when they are traveling or moving.
The Partners for Healthy Pets website also has information that may help you with these conversations.
On the bright side, we’ve seen great support from both the veterinary community and the public on our Facebook page and our LinkedIn page in the wake of this “20/20” report. We know there are many, many pet owners who value their relationship with their veterinarian and make the best use of this partnership in keeping their pets healthy. That’s really what it’s all about; continuing our dedicated work to ensuring that pets and people are able to enjoy long, healthy lives together.