When your vet sells to VCA - German Shepherd Dog Forums
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post #1 of 11 (permalink) Old 07-28-2018, 07:35 PM Thread Starter
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When your vet sells to VCA

You know, your beloved and trusted family vet that you’ve gone to for 30yrs even when you moved 375 miles away... the, here’s my personal number, pay the bill when you can, euthanasia at home, countless referrals, less than 2 miles from your house and open til 11pm, the place you went to volunteer when you ran away from home at 15 but kept your commitment, the vet that grew from a 2 to 7 dr practice but never increased their prices because they understood how much they were valued in the community, the vet who played a huge role in your relationship, experience, knowledge and devotion to animals.... I can go on and on. I’m sure he’s trying to set things up for retirement, but ugh!

Can anyone see a positive in this?

They’ve been my safety net. I’ve never had to shop for a vet but certainly wouldn’t have gone the corporate route anyway.

TILDEN: Male: Blk/Red LHGSD: DOB: 12/24/06 60lbs of Love
KEYSTONE: Male: Sable: DOB: 2/11/13 60lbs of Go!!!!!

Last edited by Fodder; 07-28-2018 at 07:40 PM.
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post #2 of 11 (permalink) Old 07-28-2018, 08:16 PM
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Ugh. This is the future. It's hard to fault hard-working vets for selling out to retire. It's such an easy decision for them.

FWIW, I just had a talk this week with a specialist vet at a VCA referral clinic about their independence. She said that Mars has not interfered with their professional judgment at all -- she still recommends and does what she feels is correct for her patients and hasn't changed her practice at all to accommodate Mars Petcare.

So...I would ride things out with your vet until he retires. You will probably see prices go up, but he may still practice as he always has. It would be good to start working on finding a "back up" vet though. He might even have a buddy he can send you to for that purpose! Otherwise, ask around your GSD community (breeders, rescue, trainers -- even the police K9 unit), and you should be able to hone in on the vets who are great with this breed.

In terms of positives, VCA is known for long hours (open late, and on weekends). I doubt that will be changing, if it's already the culture of your clinic. They also invest in upgrading equipment at many clinics -- better diagnostics, etc., so you may see some high-end stuff added, if he's on that upgrade list.

From what I gathered, the VCA/Mars Petcare merger agreement may create more independence for VCA vets from "the corporate overlords" than Banfield (or Blue Pearl) vets get. I *think* this seems to mean that VCA won't be doing the computer-driven "McClinic" style of franchise veterinary medicine used by Banfield.

If the clinic is AAHA accredited, they'll have to continue to abide by AAHA evidence-based standards of care (3 year vaccines, etc.). That's a good thing--it protects you from them suddenly deciding every dog needs a DAPP and rabies vaccine every year, at least.
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Last edited by Magwart; 07-28-2018 at 08:19 PM.
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post #3 of 11 (permalink) Old 07-28-2018, 10:19 PM
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Same happened with our vet long ago. One day a new sign went up that was that. I can say that we continued to go there even though it was now a corporate vet clinic.

They actually increased their hours. Our clinic opens at 7 am and closes at 9 pm Monday thru Sat.
They went from being a 2 vet practice to 4-5 vet practice.
Services offered improved. More surgery types, better digital x-rays, Cost more but almost every xray is read not only by the vet but sent to a radiologist for reading as well.
Our VCA clinic is actually the contracted clinic for our city's K-9 unit.
They do recommend transfer to the local 24/7 ER vet for seriously ill animals on weekends.

In the last decade or so since becoming a VCA clinic there is only one vet that has stayed the same (she was one of the original owners). They seem to rotate vets every couple of years.
Much higher prices but they do seem to be open to trying to work with owners on what is essential to good care and keeping costs reasonable for those who can't afford expensive tests.
I hate that they don't have a tech spend the overnight with the animals like they did before they became a VCA.
They are closed on Sundays and animals in hospital from closing Saturday night until open on Monday mornings only get drop in checks for feedings, general condition and kennel cleaning, potty breaks. There is no staff there overnight.

I think what it comes down to is the Vet managing the clinic. A good vet is a good vet regardless of what name is on the door. Some VCA's are terrible because the managing vet is a lousy vet. Others are great.
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post #4 of 11 (permalink) Old 07-28-2018, 11:12 PM
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I go to a local vet clinic and also a VCA. (Two seperate dogs) and so far I love both of them, although the vca is much cheaper
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post #5 of 11 (permalink) Old 07-29-2018, 03:45 AM
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I haven't faced this one yet. I have on two occasions had a vet sell the practice and retire. Both were hard changes for me but the new vets proved just fine.

I feel like I lucked out by finding the vet when I retired and moved. I'm in podunckville but we do have two clinics in town. Hopefully, my vet is several years away from retirement. THE vet makes all the difference. This guy is on the same page - the other vet in his clinic - spare me please.
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post #6 of 11 (permalink) Old 07-29-2018, 01:13 PM
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I was just reminded of one issue where the buy-out from Mars made an issue: food during hospitalization. If you have a kibble-fed dog, it's a non-issue. If you have a raw-fed dog, though...it might be.

Earlier in the summer, the VCA referral hospital (for specialty surgery) accepted owner-supplied commercial raw/freeze dried diets for hospital stays. Sometime in June, they stopped.

For hospital stays, I was using freeze-dried commercial (Nulo) for after surgery because it's convenient for hospital staff (it's pellet like, so kennel workers don't freak out, it's shelf-stable, etc.). Nulo is super-appealing to my dog, as he thinks its a special treat, so I knew if he'd eat anything after surgery, he'd eat this. I also know it's a form of food my very sensitive dog can tolerate it well. It's terribly expensive, but for a only few days after major surgery, it was the best option I could find. They happily accepted it for his first surgery, then a few weeks later, they rejected it for the follow up surgery, along with regular dehydrated jerky-style, due to the corporate overlords sending a memo changing policy: "no raw diets in any form." The only thing they'd accept that wasn't kibble was 96% meat canned food -- so I left a lot of cans for his 3-day stay.

This could be the standard AVMA party line and concern for spreading salmonella and e. coli to vet techs handling the food....but the timing is suspicious. I think this is one of those Mars Pet Care things that they're intractable about.

For 95% of pet owners, it won't matter. For the few of us who don't feed kibble though, it's something to think about in advance, before a major surgery requiring a hospital stay.
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Last edited by Magwart; 07-29-2018 at 01:19 PM.
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post #7 of 11 (permalink) Old 07-29-2018, 02:30 PM
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My veterinarian, who I was in a relationship with at one time, came down with bladder cancer and was dead two months later. He was only 59.

Years before he had asked me to marry him but I said no because I knew that doctors are married to their work.
This was a vet who had a traveling practice, he came to the clients, and also had an office with surgical suites for large and small animals. He could doctor any kind of a creature, wild animals, horses, cows, goats, sheep, dogs, cats, rats, birds (he especially loved birds and horses). He set the broken wing of a baby bat using microsurgery and that little bat could fly again. He even repaired the exoskeleton of someones pet insect. He saved the life of Tamar, the greatest of all my horses, not once but twice. Then he moved from Marin country California to Kauai because his parents would like it there. He up his practice and would fly his homebuit airplane to other islands to help animals and their people. There was even a reality TV show about him called the Barefoot Vet. I myself can't stand to watch it. He loved working and I doubt if he ever would have retired or sold out. He worked from early morning to the middle of the night almost every single day. Bless the hearts of veterinarians. Theirs is not an easy life.
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post #8 of 11 (permalink) Old 10-20-2019, 03:31 PM Thread Starter
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i wanted to bump this thread to share a recent experience...
unplanned, i’ve remained at the aforementioned vca hospital (it’s close, has great hours, and my last 2 initial visits have been emergencies).

some staff has changed, the waiting room feels less personal/welcoming, prices have increased, and quotes are now auto populated with a lot of additional tests / screenings / procedures, but having a regular vet with an established relationship has actually worked out in my favor!

i had the unfortunate situation of one of my dogs being hit by a car (he’s OK!!), i assessed his condition and determined that while he needed to be seen, i’d wait a couple hours until the hospital opened. the doctor had not yet arrived and they had an open appointment, but it’d be another few hours, i accepted. a half hour later i get a call from the vet who recognized Keystones name and said she could see him right then. (yay!). long story short, he went back for x rays and during the review i discovered that she’d taken 5 additional views (only charged for 2), including his hips w/ proper ofa positioning (suspects he’d rate as ‘good’), and also strapped the ultrasound machine on him (at no cost) to check for organ damage.... and all with no muzzling or sedation because she knew him so well.

not only did i feel she went above and beyond, but she demonstrated the exact service and care that i feared i’d be losing.

so where i likely wouldn’t choose vca as a new client, i’ve had my trust and faith restored and am much more accepting of the switch.

TILDEN: Male: Blk/Red LHGSD: DOB: 12/24/06 60lbs of Love
KEYSTONE: Male: Sable: DOB: 2/11/13 60lbs of Go!!!!!

Last edited by Fodder; 10-20-2019 at 03:38 PM.
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post #9 of 11 (permalink) Old 10-20-2019, 06:28 PM
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Sorry that Keystone had a run-in with a car!

We have a VCA literally within walking distance of our house but I was resisting it, thinking it would be expensive and impersonal.
I will have to give them a try.. since we like but don't love our current vet.

Your vet sounds great!

Rumo ~ rescue shepherd/husky mix
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post #10 of 11 (permalink) Old 10-20-2019, 07:19 PM
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I'm going to a VCA and although it's my first experience with a VCA and only been two months or so, so far so good. I like the staff and I like the vet I chose. I LOVE the hours. We have had two Sunday regular appointments, one at 11AM and one at 6PM. I do like the technology too. Easy to logon to the app and find my vaccines, upcoming appointments and history. Finally, the vet actually agreed with me on not neutering until 2+. That never happens at a vet, they usually just push the fix the minute you get the pup.

I have always thought the proof was in the pudding with a vet when something goes wrong - illness or injury.
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