Fraud in the world of veterinary medicine
Lately, it seems I’ve hit this hot button like the buzzer on Jeopardy. But recent events have me fuming about the fraudulent nature of the pet business. This time I’m talking about my colleagues, though, and I’m sorry to say we have a hand in it at times.
Health certificates, insurance claim forms, OFA X-rays, and condo weight-restriction paperwork—they’re all ripe for fraud. Vets are on the front lines of this battle—and sometimes we succumb to our clients’ entreaties for a little “look-the-other-way-and-sign-right-here-please” kind of behavior.
I have one client who tries to get away without FIV/FeLV tests on all her beautiful Himalayan kittens. “All she asks” is that we test one in the litter and claim they’re all negative. No thanks. Even if I’d consider it, it’s my license on the line—and your patronage ‘ain’t worth it.
I once had a Giant Schnauzer breeder who asked me to certify her male pups without remarking on their [uniformly] one-testicle status. “But my buyers don’t really care! I have them sign neuter-mandated contracts.” So you won’t mind, then, when I make a note of their descended-testicular deficiency, right?
Condo weight restriction forms? I just weigh the pets and write it down. Don’t kill the messenger.
You want me to say I gave the vaccine and not give it? No way. Take your chances with the law or pay for a titer. I’ll sign a not-in-best-interest form if they’re geriatric or ill—but not otherwise.
Say your insurance kicks in on Monday and it’s Saturday. Your pet just got into your chocolate stash and you want me to fudge the date? Sorry.
Don’t people get it that I have a license to maintain? One stray step into the dark side and all those years of work and experience could count for nothing in the eyes of the almighty Board of Veterinary Medicine.
And what’s up with vets who think it’s OK to take their chances? Don’t they know they’re painting us all with their liar’s brush?
One thing’s an oversight or an owner’s fraud: I once had a Dobie come in for OFA X-rays that was obviously NOT the bitch the owner claimed it was. (I don’t forget my patients that easily.) Get your hip X-rays elsewhere if you want them that badly! It’s not hard to cheat a vet without a positive microchip ID. But don’t disrespect your regular vet by putting her in this position.
I’m not so lily-white, though. We’ve all thought of crossing the line—especially for good clients (vaccine requirements or condo restrictions, in my case). But it’s the slippery slope into the gray-zone we should be thinking about whenever we’re tempted—that, and the licenses we require to maintain our precious jobs.