Shelter medicine and pet insurance: The NAVC connection
Yes, I will be in Orlando at the North American Veterinary Convention (NAVC) this upcoming week. Some of you will also be visiting the famed Mouse's homeland. As always, feel free to e-mail me so we can meet up, have some coffee, hang out at the piano bar...whatever. And if you’re shy, consider that you can always come and catch me speak about pet insurance and shelter medicine on Monday evening.
(Check your NAVC calendar, it's sponsored by PetFirst Healthcare, a pet health insurance provider.)
Odd topic, right? Well...not so much when you get to thinking about it. The idea is this:
Shelters are in the business of promoting humane treatment of the animals they safeguard by housing them and distributing them to the public. By extension they’re also in the education business. So when they offer pet health insurance with every adoption, much as they do now with a microchip or a series of vaccines, they’re teaching adopters that veterinary medicine is not optional. That it will be expensive. And that they need to be responsible.
Then there are the stats to consider: Adopters who take their pets to the vet are far less likely to give them up. There’s something about taking the necessary steps to care for your pet's health that seals the deal. Both canine and feline studies bear this out. So when you consider that pet health insurance is way of automatically connecting pet owners to veterinary care, lowering the barriers to entry, as it were, it all starts to make sense, right? Pet insurance and shelters should connect.
I think so, anyway. Which is why I’m going to do my best to persuade my Monday night audience that pet insurance is not a novelty item. Rather, it’s a safety mechanism that’s every bit as crucial as the microchip they just implanted in all those pets they just adopted out. No one wants economic euthanasia to break the bond they just worked so hard to build.
But the shelter angle is different. The implications for the pet health insurance industry are vast. Especially when you consider that shelters are in a powerful position when it comes to bringing products into the mainstream. After all, where would the microchip industry be were it not for shelters and rescues and their commitment to lost pets? And––make no mistake––what shelters do for routine vaccination is priceless.
Given those historically favorable odds, it makes sense that an opinionated veterinarian like me would want to make a case for pet health insurance as the next new thing worth investing in. But will shelters and rescues bite?
We’ll just have to wait and see...
In the meantime, PLEASE visit me at NAVC if you’re in Orlando this week. Techs, vets, others...I really, REALLY want to meet my Dolittler peeps. It’s not just talk––I promise. Hobson (one of whom I missed lat year)...are you listening?