Forget 911, Call the Vet!
Sunday. Last night I received a phone call from a frantic client who wasted the first full minute of the call apologizing profusely for calling me at home (I’m listed). She finally blurted out the sordid details of her dog’s recent attack—on her houseguest.
Poor Juny. She’s dog aggressive and fear aggressive and just plain freaked-out whenever life does not follow its usual course. Her owner hasn’t exactly owned up to this penchant of Juny’s for human flesh. She prefers to think humans are always at fault for Juny’s misdeeds (but Juny was just standing there when…).
While Juny has a lot of issues indeed, and while my discussions with her owner on behavior modification and other interventions have (so far) fallen on deaf ears, this is not the point of this post. At issue:
Q. Why does someone call her vet (on a Saturday night at home, no less) to report a dog bite?
A. I guess Juny’s mom just wanted someone to hold her hand and tell her houseguest how to wash out the wound thoroughly with soap and water and head straight to the emergency room. That’s all the law allows me to say with respect to a dog-on-man crime. At least I was able to report that Juny was current on her rabies vaccine. But her owner already knew that. Big help. Bye-bye.
This may seem like a funny story. My dinner guests certainly thought so. The reality, however, is that I get these calls with surprising frequency.
So why do so many people call their vets when their pet bites them or someone else? It’s not as if they’re calling to have their pet somehow dealt with—they always call to find out how to treat the wound on the human.
I used to accept these calls with amused indifference, happy to be of some assistance in a crisis without actually having to do anything—just another goodwill phone call. With time and a little insight, however, I’ve developed a theory on the subject:
The message of this call is: I trust you enough to call you whenever my pet and healthcare intersect, even when it makes no sense that I should do so. Because it’s an emergency, and they’re not necessarily thinking logically, these pet owners call the first person they trust to help them cope rationally with the situation.
If that’s me, I’ll just have to suffer the Saturday night phone calls. After all, a person has to take her compliments wherever she can get them.