AVMA urges more ‘reality’ in Animal Planet’s Dr. Jeff, Rocky Mountain Vet

The level of veterinary care depicted on Animal Planet’s program Dr. Jeff, Rocky Mountain Vet prompted an outpouring of concern from our members. AVMA President Dr. Tom Meyer, and Executive Vice President and CEO Dr. Janet Donlin, responded by sending a letter to executives at Discovery Channel LLC’s Animal Planet, urging them not to abandon science and appropriate surgical protocol in their programming.

Drs. Meyer and Donlin applauded Dr. Jeff’s commitment to underserved communities.  However, they objected to Discovery Channel’s Animal Planet conveying “the message that ‘lesser-than’ care is somehow acceptable for pets in these communities.”

AVMA strongly disagrees. High-volume veterinary care does not equate to low-quality veterinary care. Many of our members practice in underserved communities. Their reality involves long days, often at lower than typical pay, but these dedicated veterinarians still maintain generally accepted good patient care practices. The AVMA’s Reaching Up New Mexico, a partnership with the Native America Humane Society and the communities it serves, was shared as an example of a well-run high-quality, high-volume spay/neuter and preventive care service program for pets.

Thank you for taking the time to let us know how disturbed you were by the depiction of veterinary medicine on this television program. We heard your voice. You can also take a moment to send your own comments to Discovery Channel and Animal Planet c/o  laurie_goldberg@discovery.com  for:

  • David M. Zaslav, President, CEO, Discovery Communications, LLC
  • Rich Ross, Group President , Discovery Channel, Animal Planet and Science Channel
  • Rick Holman, Executive Vice President and General Manager for Animal Planet at Discovery Communications

We hope that Animal Planet will hear us and make a commitment to ensuring that the animals depicted in their programs are provided with the quality care they deserve.

13 thoughts on “AVMA urges more ‘reality’ in Animal Planet’s Dr. Jeff, Rocky Mountain Vet

  1. While I hear the concerns of the AVMA, I also note that many of the referrals to Dr Jeff and his team are from other, higher priced vets who WILL NOT TREAT unless there is money coming in in advance. That is reminiscent of hospitals refusing to treat patients who have no insurance or cannot pay.

    If Dr Jeff uses sterile instruments (as he appears to do), and there is a no higher than average incidence of infection amongst his patients, then what they do can’t be all that bad in my view.

    As further evidence, I submit the surgical practices of large animal vets who don’t have the luxury of perfect operating theaters in the barns and/or pens in which they practice. Or, how about those who serve wild animal preserves? No fancy sterile issues there.

    Give us a break. In a perfect world, perfection would be common. Sadly such a world does not exist. MY only concern is that MY pet receive thorough, thoughtful care for a price that I can afford.

    Oh, just for the record, I don’t live anywhere near Denver, Isabela County, MI or the Yukon for that matter. But I do live in a rural/forested area. The nearest veterinary teaching hospital is hundreds of miles away.

    • I could care less about what he is wearing (as long as it is clean)…what I do care about is his infection rate and/or outcomes. Are his outcomes worse than other vets? Does he have a higher infection rate than other vets? If not…then is it just appearances that other vets are worried about? I think these same questions came up with that other vet show…(Dr Pol?) too.

  2. I have been a veterinarian for 35 years; most of that time owning a small town/rural practice. Standard of care does not change because of where you practice. I am disgusted that any veterinarian thinks it is appropriate to do surgery without cap, mask and gown. This is an embarrassment to our profession. Save the goofy muscle shirts for the biker bar. They do not belong in the surgical suite.

  3. All patients, no matter the economic background ,deserve a standard of care that is above reproach.

    I see this visual depiction of a so called surgery as an embarrassment to our profession and the standards we all are expected to up hold.

  4. “….urging them not to abandon science and appropriate surgical protocol in their programming.” That might be an appropriate statement for veterinary medicine in the Rocky Mountains, but performing surgery in that manner is actually against the law in California. Minimum Standards of Practice in this state require so much more! As well-intended as it may be, performing surgery dressed like that puts into jeopardy one’s ability to practice, make a living and help more patients in the future. You need a valid license and premise permit!

  5. It is about time. I have been appalled since the very first episode and have been wondering why this unbelievable disregard for sterility has been allowed to be shown over and over with no reprimand. It makes our entire profession look bad and does not represent the hard working professional veterinarians out there.

  6. Re Dr Jeff love the show but bothered by the surgericsl practices. I have watched other shows like the vets dr blue etc thart actuall scrub before performing a surgical procedure. Tonight they did not even wears masks in their procedures, It does not seem very sanitary. Also if parvovirus is so contagious the little one was confined but the attendant went in opened the cage did not see her use anything either. On someone else show was know to be highly contagious. So who is right?.?

  7. I am an old retired lady with a deep love of animals of all kinds. One of the rare joys I have is watching vet and other animal shows on television. One of my concerns is that Discovery and Nat Geo Wild will discontinue shows or vets will decline being filmed if the AVMA continues to nit pick regarding veterinarians styles and practices. But more importantly the animals and indigent populations these vets see with pets will not be served. The AVMA should support these programs in that they inspire young people to love animals and pursue a career in vet medicine. The AVMA would help more by offering positive reinforcement for for practices well done and offerring training or making constructive suggestions regarding practices that could be improved. In life one should always attempt to build up not tear down. Thanks for listening.

    • This statement is just an example of what these shows project to the public who – if they had to have an orthopedic or open abdominal surgery certainly would not think it was OK for the surgeon to not follow surgical procedures such as sterility, mask, gown, gloves ( sterile ones ) – yet it appears to work out just fine on Dr Jeff’s show. To describe a professional outcry for decent standards of care for animals to be ” nit pick regarding veterinarians styles and practices” is obsurd. Makes my blood boil. As for kids watching the show and wanting to be vets – boy will they have a rude awakening when they get to a real vet school and learn how things are done correctly – takes just a little more effort than what they saw on TV.

    • Nit pick? About basic sterile surgical practices? By being on tv, he has allowed others to invite themselves into his practices and comment on them. This is a gross neglect of basic hygiene when going into surgery. Why did he even bother to put a head covering on when his skin and arm pit hair are exposed? The AVMA is in a supportive role in that they are drawing attention to his practices and letting him and others know it goes against everything he was taught in veterinary school. They are making a constructive suggestion to put a gown on for petes sake! I can’t believe anyone has any comment besides how derelict this is.

  8. Why is it that the AVMA does shout-outs regarding lesser care and the abandonment of science, when it comes to TV vets. But when I email you to ask about a complaint regarding another vet not on TV, I get bounced around, told that I have to speak to the licensing state, etc?

    If the AVMA isn’t an authority for most vets, they are suddenly an authority with celebrity vets? Sounds like just a way of getting attention to a cardboard organization.

    • I see your point in this, but I think the AVMA sort of has its hands tied as well with these types of things. They have no real “ruling authority” over what state boards do or do to discipline. I think you would find they feel the same way about any vet that would be practicing sub standard medicine or cutting corners to the extent seen in the TV shows. My advice would be to harp on this to your state VMA. They might have the power to reach out to the State Board and work towards having an investigation launched into something you saw or have concerns about. I think one of the biggest complaints we all have as vets is that a lot of State Boards do not take complaints from vets against another vet seriously or with the merit it may deserve. From their standpoint they are mostly there to protect the public consumer and not the profession. There are also the vets out there that will make bogus complaints against a colleague up the street just to try and get more of their business, so I can see why the Board is leery on these complaints. It can be maddening. My advice again is to really get involved with your state VMA to see what channels might be available to pursue your complaint. It may take a lot of persuasion, but in the end you might get somewhere. Hope you can.

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