Poke, pay, push off

I used to work in a clinic that offered twice a week vaccine clinics. During those times, we would waive our customary exam fee (at the time it was $45), as long as the client was coming in solely for vaccines and had no health questions.

We did this to provide a service to those clients who would go to the weekend vaccine clinic at the pet store instead of coming to us. I know how those weekend clinics work. They are much like the flu clinic I took my kids to last week. You go, you get your shots, you leave. If you ask about your kid’s ear infections you’d be given a blank stare as they ushered you out the door. Poke, pay, push off.

And you know, it works as long as that is truly all you need. But you would be shocked, or maybe you wouldn’t, I don’t know, at how many times that was not at all the only thing clients need. Especially in the vet clinic. I love questions! That is what I am here for, to educate nervous new pet owners and also say, hey, look at this tooth or this mass or this ear. To say, hey, I see Rover is 14 and has never had bloodwork and you said his appetite is low; perhaps we should postpone these vaccines and make sure he’s OK. But all of that stuff? That’s an office exam. And we have 15 people in the lobby waiting for a bordetella vaccine.

I hated those vaccine clinics with a passion, because at least once a clinic I would get a client who said, “no concerns! Just rabies!” to the technician, waited until I came into the room, and asked me for an allergy consult. And I would either do it because I felt a professional obligation, even though it meant everyone else outside had to wait, or risk being called a (insert choice insult here.)

With the exception of rabies vaccine, our local feed store carries all the other regular canine vaccines. Yes, it’s less than coming to me. Anyone can learn how to give a shot to a dog in about 5 minutes, that’s not the hard part. When you come to me for an exam and vaccines, you are paying for all the other intangibles, captured here so nicely by a colleague with better graphic design skills than me:


I understand why people go to those clinics- it’s inexpensive and it’s convenient. It is not, however, a replacement for an office call. Give us a chance. You might be pleasantly surprised at what our staff can do for you, and most importantly, your pet.

Filed: Blog, Daily Life, Health, Picks of the Litter Tagged: ,
  • Cathey Avery

    This sort of speaks to one of my pet peeves. People are always amazed when I say we paid $600 for our old golden, Brea. They want to get a pet so the kids can see puppies born (ANOTHER of my pet peeves) and get it for cheap, They have no idea that pets are in a lot of ways just like kids. HAVING kids is relatively cheap and sometimes a lot of fun, compared to paying for everything that child needs in the next 18 years and dealing with that child in the same time frame. I will say this once folks: Taking care of your pet is kind of like taking care of your kids or your parents – they deserve the best compassionate care that you can afford, and you need to OWN that responsibility – if you need to go to one of those shot clinics, go, but when your dog need anything besides one of the vaccinations offered, PLEASE go to the vet and get what your pet deserves – EXCELLENT, INTELLIGENT, PROFESSIONAL diagnosis and care. Thanks Dr. V. for another great article!

  • catherine carmichael

    Why would you give yearly vaccines and especially to a 14 year old dog??

    • Ideally, the decision whether or not to vaccinate and which vaccines are necessary is made on a case-by-case basis with the veterinarian and owner considering lifestyle, health of the pet, age, and risk. In many cases one might choose not to administer a vaccine to an older dog. Of course, a quickie clinic would likely not go through that long analysis process, which exactly what we are getting at in this piece.

  • Michele Lee

    Thank you. I try my best to take care of all my pets, canine or not. I work at a pet store in a better end of town and regularly hear snideness about certain foods, certain vets, etc. But the number of them that go to these walk in clinics (or don’t brush their dogs, or clip their nails) is stunning. Suffering from an anxiety disorder too I regularly punish myself for not being able to do better. I need to remember I am doing my best and that really counts for the pets I have (a number of which were abandoned at our store).