Please, use pet-related social media for good, not blame and slander

32

I follow three or four local “lost and found pet” groups on Facebook. These are places where people in the community can post photos of dogs they’ve lost or found, and where neighbors can come together in the comments to offer suggestions to both distraught owners of lost dogs or overwhelmed dog finders. These sites can be invaluable for reuniting pets and owners, as members tend to be the kind of people who pay attention and remember any stray or needy animals they’ve seen.

When I have found a stray dog, it’s helpful to already belong to these groups, so I can quickly submit a “found dog” post. Usually, nonmembers of these groups can’t post to them; generally, you have to wait for a moderator to approve of your membership in the group before you can post – and sometimes it takes a moderator a day or more to respond to your request to join the group! As an already-approved member of these groups, I’ve had responses that helped locate the owners of the dog or dogs I found within an hour!

That’s the good news. The bad news is that these groups can also be a place where people with animal-related problems blame others in the community for those problems, look for other people to solve their problems for them, and bash anyone in the helping professions who fail to help. Animal control officers who fail to materialize immediately, shelters that are overcrowded, and veterinarians who fail to go to any lengths to save the lives of injured stray animals often get singled out for shaming and blaming. I try hard not to read those posts – and have to try even harder, sometimes, to not to respond to them!

Well, I failed utterly the other day. Here was the post that caught my eye:

facebook post about local vet

The post reads:

“I felt compelled to write this post and share something sad that happened this afternoon on XXXXX Road. My neighbor called me to say he found a chocolate lab in front of his house that had been hit by a car. I immediately rushed over and the owner was there. The dog was seriously injured but still alert. Both the front and back legs were broken. They had already called several places without success. No one was willing to come out and euthanize her (XXX).

“Most disturbing too (stet) me was discovering the XXXXXXX Veterinary Hospital (my neighbor had been taking their animals too (stet) for the past 30 years  (not even a minute up the street) had refused to help. I decided to call the hospital myself hoping that a second house on their street would convince them of the urgency. This poor baby had been out there suffering for over an hour at this point. I was told everyone was with clients and they would call me back. I let them know this animal was a patient of theirs and in immediate need and I was certain their clients would be willing to wait 10 minutes if they knew it meant the end to an animals (stet) misery. Unfortunately this did not help. The animal had to be lifted into the back of a truck by the neighbors (stet) son. More pain and unnecessary suffering.

“The lack of care for the animals entrusted to them in their own community is appalling and unacceptable. I refuse to take my sweet girls XXXX and XXXX their (stet) in the future. 

“My heart breaks for XXXXXX and her parents”

Within hours, there were more than 100 comments from people who were promising to never bring business to the named vet clinic and, what’s more, stating that they would be leaving the vet clinic a bad review.

comments on facebook post

I don’t know the veterinarian at that clinic personally, but I have a friend who takes all of her pets there – and my friend has encouraged me to bring my dogs there if my vets are ever unavailable, because even though this clinic is farther away than the clinics I currently patronize, my friend finds that the vet and support staff there to be uniquely kind and competent, and the wait times not bad. Through my friend (and a quick review of the clinic’s website to be certain), I’m aware that this clinic has one doctor working there. And now there are hundreds of people in our community being told that this doctor is heartless and inhumane, because she didn’t leave her patients on a moment’s notice in order to run down the street and euthanize a dog on the side of the road. Argh!

Social media can do so much good, especially when it’s bringing people together to accomplish something for those in need. Why do so many people insist on using it for negativity?

32 COMMENTS

  1. Well… if my dog and I were with my vet or waiting in the lobby and an urgent plea like that came in, I’d expect my vet to respond — whether the suffering dog was a regular patient or not. The level of suffering matters. My wait time doesn’t.

    • I fully agree. I think everyone who has pets would empathize with the injured dog owner’s situation. I’ve certainly waited at vets before when staff explained an emergency had come in, and there would be a delay. I’ve never heard of a vet ignoring an emergency with an animal suffering in agony.

    • What if you bring in your suffering dog to a scheduled appointment and the vet isn’t there because they are helping another dog? What if going out on the emergency call means the vet’s animals or humans suffer at home because the vet is now two hours late catching up on every appointment. What if some of the people waiting have a hard time arranging transportation, and their animal can’t be seen at all because the vet is behind schedule and they need to go? It’s very easy to make a judgement about what you would have done based on your priorities, but it is impossible when you are a provider faced with decisions like this every day, and when not all clients agree on what the priority should be.

      • How long would it take to go down the street and euthanize this dog and come back? Five minutes? Ten? It wouldn’t make the vet two hours late. I’ve never encountered a vet who told me to take my dog home because of an emergency meant my appt would be canceled. They have come and told me it would be a wait because of an emergency but never deny service.

    • I’m sorry, But even on one vet practice should at least have a vet nurse who could have gone down and euthanased the poor dog.

  2. I worked for a one man band’ vet, unless he was doing an op, he certainly would have asked his clients if they didn’t mind waiting (who would in those circumstances?) leave his receptionist in charge, taken a vet nurse and proceeded post haste to the dog in pain.

  3. I agree it’s too easy to bully and very easy to place blame where it isn’t warranted. But sometimes it is the only outlet for people who’s needs are not being addressed by a commercial establishment. Social media has always been a very large double edged sword. And unfortunately the good can get cut just as much as the bad. I’m not sure what the answer is.

  4. The problem with the human society today is that they do not think about the consequences of their actions before they speak or act out. Put yourself in this doctors situation and then ask yourself if you had a fully booked day. You are the only doctor! How do you leave all those patients? If it were my dog I would be taking it to the doctor myself ASAP instead of waiting around. Sounds like the more time you are waisting time trying to get a doctor to come to you, You could of gone to the doctor!

    • Lifting the dog with so much injury would increase the dog’s suffering exponentially. It’s a sad conundrum.

  5. I can’t believe WDJ taking this stance. As a person who lives in a community that has little veterinary support when it comes to animals, even their own clients, when they are in dire need. I could go on and on with specific examples of this.
    Good for this person for calling this veterinarian Out on social media!!!!!
    I would like to see animal lovers/owners start to pressure their local vets for some kind of emergency assistance for their animals.
    I consider it shameful that most vets will not get an animal right in in the case of emergency.

    • I TOTALLY AGREE!!! I would like to know exactly who this vet is. I am a health care professional and if one of my patients was in this kind of situation, i would drop EVERYTHING and respond. I didn’t go into my career with the attitude that it’s ok for animals or people to suffer!!!!!

  6. The only way people will wake up to what is happening around them is posts like this woman wrote about the dog in need experience. Vets have become robots and have little to no feeling anymore about the soul and the life which is encased in that soul. It is horrible. We have many robots in positions of this nature who have lost their empathy and their natural love for animals and all others.

    Thankfully, this dog will forgive the humans who are lacking compassion in their hearts. The more we hear about these situations the better. We don’t and can’t change our behavior unless we know the facts.

  7. I found this post to be unfair to the vet. There were many people guilty of what happened to this poor dog, from the owner (loose dog) to the driver of the vehicle that hit the dog (driving too fast?), If it were my dog, I would have taken it to the vet immediately not waited for the vet to make an unscheduled trip to a roadside. Maybe this dog could have been saved if transported to a clinic immediately and evaluated. Too many unknowns and emotions here, but easy to find someone else to blame.

    • Good points, Eileen!

      Everyone, please remember there are at least two sides to every story. Unless you were at the site and heard all the communication with the vet(s) involved, don’t judge. Making comments on an issue is fine, but don’t judge until you know ALL the facts.

      BYW, I worked as a vet tech for over 7 years and very few small anmal vets will leave their clinic to treat an animal. It’s not productive. However, if a HBC (hit by car) or another emergency case came into the clininc, it got priority over appointments. So in any emergency situation, don’t wait, transport your animal to the nearest vet. Call them while you are on the way and tell them you have an emergency coming in.

    • I agree. Not enough information provided, it was just one individual’s opinion. It’s more so scary to see how so many people react easily going along with someone’s opinion rather than facts.

      Personally, I wouldn’t have expected a vet to come out, I’d have driven myself to the vet.
      I’ve been taking my dog to vets, emergency included, in the past couple of years quite often and know how busy they’re, just like Nancy has posted a few times before about the recent Vet situations, I’ve been experiencing it myself.

  8. I agree with the post let others know this vet didn’t take the time for such a horrible emergency so they know the vet won’t take the time for there pets either. I believe most owners in that vets office would have waited. All four legs a on that furbaby were busted why would anyone want to move it more than necessary 💔😢

  9. If she had broken legs, why the heck didn’t the owner take her to the nearest emergency clinic, or even the vet involved, for treatment? Broken legs are painful, granted, but they’re not fatal. And what was she doing running around loose in the first place? Was this a one-off mishap, or was it habitual? Why didn’t the person who hit her stop and render aid? If you want to be outraged at someone, that would be the person. And people will claim to be a client of a vet even if the last time they brought their dog there was as a puppy. There is a lot more to this story than is presented here, and we have no way of knowing any of it. It’s even possible the vet herself never knew of the incident, as calls are not usually picked up by vets, but by their staffs.

    • I agree…quit blaming the vet who is probably working his/her ass off already trying to accommodate people and their pets (by the way, my husband is a vet and I manage it and serve as technician for the past 37 years, so I am very heavily involved in this field). Why don’t owners ever take any responsibility? Why was this dog running around loose? That’s the responsibility of the owner, first and foremost. Also, it’s not just a one and done to go render aid to a dog hit by a car. And why immediately assume the dog should be euthanized? Broken legs are fixable. Dogs aren’t wild deer. People act like this would take 5 minutes. They are all out of touch with reality.

  10. This is a situation where I feel like I don’t have enough information. Is the veterinarian practice that’s being criticized one with multiple vets, or just a single provider? Was the doctor in surgery at that time, or seeing routine pet visits? The reason it feels so heartless, is that this dog was suffering and the clinic was only “a minute up the street”. Would they attend to the dog if it were brought there instead? Perhaps they would want to assess the dog in their clinic (and maybe could save it instead of euthanize the poor thing). Regardless of the lack of information, it is helpful to know that they couldn’t or wouldn’t leave their building for an emergency, because others who use that facility might find themselves in a similar predicament some day. What the reader needs to know however, is the reason why the vet wouldn’t or couldn’t leave.

  11. What if the vet was in the middle of surgery with an opened-up, anesthetized animal when she got the call? What if the dog laying opened-up on the surgery table was your dog?

  12. I believe this person did the right thing with this post calling out that Vet! It is appalling that the Vet would not take 30 minutes out of her day to end this dogs suffering. Maybe get practice should be punished. I think we all stand by too, many times and just take their inhumane actions ad something to be expected.
    I believe you were wrong to call out the poster. This Vet lost a star from her crown.

  13. I agree with the posters who are calling out the apparent lack of empathy on the part of the near-by vet. BUT I also agree that we don’t have enough facts to evaluate that particular situation. What I do know is that more and more often, vet clinics have become the purview of large corporate veterinary services providers, e.g. VCA, where, speaking from my own experience, fewer vets now work and I was told, when my dog suffered a non-emergent but serious bout of diarrhea, “well just take her to the specialty hospital, we can’t fit her in.” THAT place became my previous vet pretty quickly. The clinic which DID fit her in was one where one of my other dogs was a previous patient and they said “bring her in, you might have to wait a couple of minutes but she will be seen today.” The dog in the street situation is, happily, the exception and one not solvable today, but in my view, establishing a relationship with an independently owned vet clinic may be the best possibility of getting one’s pet seen in what I’ll call a “lesser emergency” situation.

  14. A. We’ve morphed into a society where we feel entitled to have our every desire met the moment we can put it into words. Everyone else’s needs and desires are secondary to our own. If our desires aren’t met immediately, we’re outraged, nuance and context be damned.

    B. I’m not a vet. I’m not going to decide that an injured dog needs to be euthanized by myself. If a vet clinic is less than a minute away, even though I know it will cause the dog even more pain in the short term, it’s a complete no-brainer that I’m taking that dog to the vet, where they have all the equipment necessary to perhaps save the dog’s life.

  15. So so horrible that not one vet or vet tech could come out and help with this dog, a vet tech could have come out and gave this poor dog the needle to put him out of so much pain, also for who ever hit and left this dog without stoping and proving care, calling for help is also such a horrible person. This article brings tears to my eyes.

  16. I disagree.

    While I would certainly like to hear the vet’s side for denying this “road call” it is important we have all the information available. Not just the rosy side. That leads to trust issues. How can I trust reviews if I only read the good ones? (I’m thinking amazon here.)

    If this vet is just wonderful in the office with his routine exams fine. But denying service for this obvious emergency and requiring to put the dog through even more pain by transporting it just is not acceptable. And people should know that when they are choosing a vet. It is too easy to run a business this way when you’re the only vet in town and people don’t have a choice.

    How would anyone feel if the owner was so desperate and without means to transport this poor dog, adding to its pain, that they went house to house until they found a gun owner to shoot their dog, just to end its suffering? I know we’ve all had to be by the side of our beloved pet while it was humanely euthanized for one reason or another but can you imagine having to stand by and watch your dog being shot because a vet refused to come and humanely euthanize it? And of course, then someone reports you to the police for animal cruelty on top of that because they were just driving by and didn’t know the whole situation.

    Yes, the vet could have been in the middle of a surgery. In which case they could have told the caller they were in the middle of surgery. But that wasn’t stated. It was “everyone is with patients” implying there is more than one staff member and nothing is an emergency.

    BTW, I don’t do Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc for this very reason. Too much negativity and misinformation. But I still do check reviews with the better business bureau, Yelp and other sources when making decisions. It’s one reason I moved my dogs from the clinic our family has used for decades to one that is a “fear free” clinic. And I am very glad I did.

  17. I can’t help but wonder how the dog was allowed to freely run in the street. The owner bears the primary responsibility for this situation. As owners, we must protect our critters in all facets of their environment. Make sure containment is intact, remove mushrooms, get shots, regularly see the vet, and know where your dog is at all times. Yes, it’s a lot of work, but if an own can’t meet these needs, perhaps consider not getting a pet. In this instance, look how many people have been hurt due to this alleged negligence.

  18. How was the owner/ helper supposed to carry a severely injured Labrador to the Veterinary practice??
    I’m sorry I do not think either Vets or doctors are above criticism.

    • so what, you’d think they would euth in the middle of the street and just leave the body there because it’s too heavy? Labs are not that heavy man, she should have taken the dog to the vet, or called a mobile vet

  19. Nancy Kerns, I think your post was appropriate. The single-vet offices in rural areas that I’m familiar with are stretched incredibly thin. Are the commentators here aware of the alarmingly high rate of suicide among veterinary practitioners? Veterinarians are HUMANS, with limits,they’re not 24-hour-on-call angels. Day-in-day-out stress takes a toll; please be kind, don’t be so quick to pass judgement, and cut our veterinarians some slack.

  20. i’d love to know what group this is so I could post a positive comment for the vet and advice on how they can get help next time

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