It’s true. Sometimes we vets want to hide when breeders come our way. Altogether too often they infuriate and intimidate us with a reputation for stressful demands and know-it-all ways . I know this because my vet friends bemoan their patronage while grumbling posts on the Veterinary Information Network (the vet-industry-only online watering hole) confirm the seemingly universal sentiment.

In fact, I’d venture to say that breeders are a small animal vet’s top most begrudged client category, second only to those who abscond on their bills.

Don’t be offended—I know many of you who read this are breeders. But, as you know best, breeders are not all created equal. The fact that you’re reading this likely means that vets don’t deserve to despair as you make their way into their place of work. Not so for many of those who would proudly count you among their brethren.

For those of you not in-the know, most producers of purebred cats and dogs in this country are neither professional in their practices nor respectful of the way they treat their vets—not to mention the animals in their care.

Any breeder worth his or her salt understands this reality and is likely as frustrated as we vets are—more so, perhaps, because they have to contend with the sad reality that they’ve got an uphill battle to fight every time they have to see a new vet (moving, specialists, etc.).

It’s gotten so that I have to disclaim when I refer a reputable breeder client to another vet so that the vet in question (typically a specialist) doesn’t take an automatic defensive stance in the midst of a rough day (specialists are people, too, and they have bad days and biases just like the rest of us).

In case you think this is an unfair way for a vet to treat any new client willing to pay good money for services rendered, consider these experiences I’ve suffered:

1-“Breeders” are not only more likely to challenge your prices (this is fine, by me) but to tell you to your face that what you’re asking for amounts to petty thievery.

I was once even informed that I was a “rapist” (yes, you read that right) for deigning to inform a backyard breeder of poor quality Goldens that her overcooked bitch’s pups were more than likely dead and that the mom had a raging peritonitis I’d have to charge a minimum of $1,500 to even consider treating in-house (I’d referred her to a specialist right away). 

“Your emergency is not my responsibility,” is the phrase I obliquely referenced in my euphemistic response to the hurled insult. I didn’t refuse her my services, but somehow, I wished I’d quoted her a higher price after her outburst—just in case anything should go wrong (delayed healing, sepsis, etc.) and the estimate goes higher.

2-“Breeders” often want to challenge you on every medical point, seemingly to prove they’ve been around the block and that you won’t be able to rake them over the coals. Now, challenging is welcomed if it’s about getting to what’s best in a partnership scenario. Not, however, if it’s a “gotcha” game we vets don’t really have time to play by way of assuaging one person’s individual ego. This tactic drives me crazy.

3-“Breeders” manage to find themselves in the worst kind of emergencies at the most inconvenient times of day. Then they show up at the hospital at closing time acting as if (and sometimes telling your other clients) they’ve spent so much money on your overpriced services that they’re single-handedly responsible for the survival of your business. “I want my C-section NOW.” And did I not suggest we do that 36 hours ago?

4-Or how about the “breeder” who wants you to leave out all kinds of pertinent information on the health certificates—like retained testicles, umbilical hernias, heart murmurs and parasitic infections. You know, there are plenty of vets that will do this without giving you a hassle—why pester ME? I guess that’s because those vets charge too much for C-sections—or something.

I’ve yet to find the secret for keeping these creeps at bay. No matter how high or low your prices, no matter how rude or sweet you are, no matter how honest or ruthless, they always seem to find us. There are just too damn many of these losers out there.

I pity the conscientious breeders who have to negotiate rough waters in the wake of these unsavory customers. My only advice to them: Find a vet who works with you as a partner. This way you’ll learn new things (and she from you). This way you’ll get actual deals when you ask for simple things like dewormers and vaccines, some of which you can easily do at home. This way she’ll get on the phone with you fast when you’re in a bind. This way she’ll treat you like an equal. But I didn’t have to tell you that, did I?