Corporations Taking Over–What it means for the Pet Owner
Last week my column dealt with the reality of major corporations buying up privately owned small animal hospitals, veterinary speciality facilities and animal emergency centers. So what does this mean to the pet owner? In general, the corporations that now own these facilities also own parallel businesses, such as pet drug distributor companies and laboratories. They have all ends covered and the purpose is to make money. Most of these corporations are just interested in the “bottom line”. The prices go up and the personal services go down. Every veterinarian I have spoken to who has previously worked for one of these corporations did not like it. They must practice as they are told. Many of the employed veterinarians are recent graduates with very little experience and there is a high turn over. The corporations insist on things being done their way, without exception. These things are not dictated by good medicine, but by economics, BUT that does not mean that ethics or honesty are compromised, but the motivation is not to do just a good job but to make money. In fact, many of these corporations put the veterinarians on the incentive basis—the more money you generate the more money you make.This is contrary to what I tell my associates. My policy is: “Be honest, be ethical, and practice the best possible level of medicine you can. Do not think of economics.” I am the “on hands” owner and I watch very carefully. Now it’s called “micro-manage”. In non-corporate owned private practice we can give discounts and even do work for free, which we do when circumstances allow. We can adjust bills and work with our clients. Our fees are usually lower and the service and level of experience is certainly better. In privately owned practices the owner makes the policy, not some executive employee of a corporation. The owners reputation is always at stake and we treasure the personal relationships we have with our pet owners and the quality of work we do for our patients. We don’t hide behind a vail of corporative ownership. Don’t forget, as youngsters we start out motivated by a love of animals and then, if we were lucky enough to get admitted to veterinary school, as vet students mature into the love of medicine and surgery as it applies to animals well being. For me and most of my colleagues, economics never was a consideration or motivating factor.