Pet care crisis in county |

Pet care crisis in county

If you are like me, you love your animals and want to provide the best veterinary care that you can afford. You are secure in the belief that our area has ample veterinary coverage, and there are many excellent practitioners. You also believe that in an emergency situation, you could get your animal quickly to a local facility for life saving help.

I’m here to tell you that you’re wrong.

Recently, we had cause to seek emergency veterinary care. It was 11 p.m. when our animal collapsed. We had no reason to believe our veterinarian and friend of many years would not quickly be at the other end of the phone line to assess the situation.

We were in for a rude shock. What we got was a telephone message telling us to take our animal to a Roseville all-night emergency facility. This was an hour and 15-minute drive, and being somewhat in shock at having the rug pulled out from under our feet, we decided to call one of the many other veterinarians that we had patronized over the years. Unbelievable though it was, we got the same message at each local veterinary hospital.

At 4 a.m., and $500 lighter, and a great deal angrier, we made the hour and 15 minute return trip home.

During business hours, we began calling most of the vets we knew and began to piece together a story of fat, overpaid vets in some cases and overworked, frazzled vets in other cases. There used to be a rotation of vets that were available on any given night to cover emergencies. There are many vets in this area, so the load was spread out, with everyone taking their turns.

It started with one local, very prestigious clinic in Grass Valley. This vet decided he didn’t want to be bothered any more after clinic hours. He made enough money that he didn’t see the need to be available. Let the other vets handle it. Then another prestigious clinic decided that if the first vet could drop out, then so could he.

The vets that were left in the rotation felt they could handle the extra burden, and so they continued. But as the word got around, more of the vets felt they were doing more than their fair share, and they too dropped out.

At this point there were just a handful of vets trying to prop the system up, but eventually they had no choice but to quit. They simply could not handle the volume of calls. Add into this mix the fact that one of these overworked vets made an attempt to give emergency care, lost the patient – and was sued and lost for his trouble – I guess you can see what happened to our local veterinary care.

Since all of this, we have talked to a handful of others that received the same rude awakening that we did. We have stories of people whose pets died on the long drive to Roseville, stories of an older couple whose aging pet went into distress and they were forced into a late-night long drive just to have their pet put to sleep. There are many more.

We asked the local vets if people had to go to Roseville anyway, why not just take all their business there Ð they are open 24/7. The answer we got is that many have gotten fed up and done just that.

Until we hit our vets in the pocketbook where it hurts, we will not get the local veterinary care we deserve in our area. Other communities deal with this with the rotation – and everyone taking their turns, or they have local emergency clinics. We should have the same here.

To be fair, there are still a couple of vets locally that see their own clients in emergency situations. We were not so lucky. The only way for you to know for sure is to ask.

For those vets that do care, I have several excellent suggestions on how to solve this problem locally, and it won’t cost that much. I’d be happy to share them with you.

For those vets who don’t care, some night during a storm, someone will be trying to get help for a beloved pet and they will end up in a wreck with some drunk driver on Highway 49. It’s just a matter of time. I wonder what those lawsuits will look like?


Randi Briggs is a resident of Smartville.

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