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Veterinary Practice News June 2010 Letters To The Editor

Posted: June 2, 2010


News and Notes


Several items caught my eye in the April 2010 issue.

For Dr. Laura Zehnder Jones [“Herd Health Mentality,” Letter to the Editor], I have a couple of questions: 1) Do you raise or treat food-producing animals? 2) On what scale? If not, I would suggest, politely of course, that you sit down and shut up.

For Dr. Ken Tudor [“Get Real, Dr. Khuly,” Letter to the Editor], I can only say YES! The new grads are an odd mix of entitlement and stark-raving fear. They want the authority but not the responsibility of their position. I don’t know how that will be fixed.

Then there was the article “Sanofi-Aventis Pulls Trigger on Merial Deal.” My question: Will one company eventually own everything?

And lastly, Bayer is going to release spot-ons to the over-the-counter market [“Bayer Explains Spot-on Retail Sales”]. Thank you, Bayer, for supporting veterinarians! Has anyone else noticed that these products have been for sale over the counter for quite a while? And Frontline is openly sold at Petco (at tremendously inflated prices!) and also at Costco, where the local store’s display is larger than all the Frontline I’ve ever sold!

I’m only on Page 4 and already I want to take up plumbing or truck driving.

Jack R. Phillips, DVM
Saint Peters, Mo.




Regarding the report “Betty White Honored” [April 2010], it is astounding to me that we as a profession would hold in such high esteem an individual who plays a starring role in a TV series demeaning the veterinary profession.

I am referring to the 1-800-PetMeds Express ad series, which hawks black-market flea and tick products “without the inconvenient trip to the vet’s office, without the long wait, and without the high cost.”

She may be considered a “longtime animal advocate,” but I do not believe her motive is altruistic.

William F. Cleary, DVM
Pacific Grove, Calif.


Generation Gap


Dr. Ken Tudor is the one who needs to get real [“Get Real, Dr. Khuly,” Letter to the Editor, April 2010].

Veterinary school debt is everyone’s problem. If it costs $200,000 to become a VMD/DVM, the new graduate needs a higher salary to pay that debt.

The “older generation” vets who complain about new grads and their salary requests are being very short-sighted. “Old farts” like Dr. Tudor desperately want to pass on their practices to the next generation, according to him. Someone in that much debt won’t be able to buy a practice.

Not whining about debt does not make it not exist. I’m not a new grad, but I’m still in debt. I knew I would be in debt before I applied to vet school, but I accepted that.

The entire profession needs to realize that astronomical costs for vet school will have great impacts on the profession—from good candidates deciding to choose other careers to the need to increase prices for services.

As far as mentoring goes, buying malpractice insurance and accepting mistakes is negligent advice. Because I have insurance it’s OK if I accidentally kill an animal? Vet school is abysmal at teaching surgery. Students have to fight with interns and residents to do surgery.

Expecting a new grad to be able to do surgery without mentoring is ridiculous.

As I tell people, vet school does not teach one how to be a vet but rather how to think like a vet. Becoming a vet takes time, practice and mentoring.

In regard to family responsibilities, allow me to be as politically incorrect (read: sexist) as Dr. Tudor was. “Old fart” vets are generally men who usually didn’t do as much raising children back in their day as the wife did. Asking your children how school was over the dinner your wife made after she cleaned the house is not quality time.

I am highly offended as a female and veterinarian in debt by his response, which only shows how out of touch some vets are.

Julie Stephenson, VMD
Mays Landing, N.J.


Managing Our Debt


Dr. Andrew Bloom surely wasn’t suggesting that only the independently wealthy be allowed to attend veterinary school, right? [“Be Money Smart,” Letter to the Editor, March 2010]

The statistics are out there: Tuition is ever increasing as state funding is cut; loans are fixed at 6.8 percent; salaries are slowly increasing. The most stunning statistic is that the average student debt has gone from $63,046 in 2000 to $129,976 in 2009. Cell phones and manicures can’t be responsible for a $60,000 increase.

While I agree that students need to be frugal, please be aware that most students are very aware of their debt. Learning how to handle the debt is important. Smart strategies include negotiating a fabulous position, living like a student for a little longer, consolidating the debt, and finding lenders that will either lower your interest rate if you sign up for automatic check withdrawal or decrease the interest rate for on-time payments.

Recent graduates are just that: young adults starting their careers and learning about life. They are not looking for handouts, just a bit of compassion and understanding that times have changed.

Chris Boehm, DVM
Tallahassee, Fla.


Call Me Dr. Katie


I read with amusement Dr. Patty Khuly’s characterization of me as a “oozy, slippery schmooze” [“ ‘Dr. Patty’? Uh, No. But ‘Dr. K’ Is OK,’ ” Reality Check, 2010]. As a paintball player, I’ve been called many things, both on and off the field, but that’s a new one for me.

I am so sorry that the existence of my name has become a pet peeve for you, akin to rude cell phone usage. It is interesting that the fact I go by “Dr. Katie” and have for 13-plus years is on the “order of the kind of thing any thinking, feeling person might detest.” That is awfully strong language for something as simple as what I prefer my clients to refer to me as.

You stated that “no physician I ever met went by ‘Dr. Tom’ or ‘Dr. Sue’ publicly. My father, an orthopedic surgeon and chief of surgery at three hospitals, did something that you likely would categorize as much worse. He would—gasp!—drop “doctor” when introducing himself, preferring instead to stick his hand out as “Walt Bosch.” Perhaps that incredibly humble introduction was what steered me in the wrong direction, as I cannot remember when I haven’t been “Dr. Katie.”

I find it rather sad that the name I choose to go by would have such a profound effect on you, both from a personal stress level and a professional one.

Forget about demanding that others change to make you less offended or more happy, accept that others have a different approach, and you might find your new attitude results in a much more pleasant, peaceful outlook.

Katie Thompson, DVM
Lithia, Fla.


Focus on Facts


While I am sure some veterinarians are “more interested in turning a buck,” most of us are actually interested in paying off our student loans and mortgages, providing for our families, and purchasing new and improved equipment for our hospitals [“The Wrong Answer,” Letter to the Editor, March 2010].

Secondarily, we are interested in reducing the number of euthanasias, though this is in no way our responsibility. For the most part, each of us has spent our career preaching spay and neuter to all who will listen. In addition, many of us have long cooperated with humane societies to provide low-cost services.

Declaring it unfair that the government is going into business in competition against you doesn’t mean that you find any number of euthanasias acceptable.

Belittling the vet tech who feels private industry is more efficient than government, which of course is true, by comparing a trained fire department to a homeowner standing there with a garden hose, does little to further the discussion.

I reread the article “Shelter Crosses Line, Some Vets Contend” [January 2010]. No one protested reducing the number of euthanasias. They did, however, protest the government and tax-exempt groups for unfairly competing with them.

Twisting people’s words and unfairly vilifying those who disagree with you is no substitute for the facts. The fact is that low-cost spay/neuter services have been available to all for a long time and have done nothing to reduce pet overpopulation or numbers of euthanasias. Maybe we need a different approach.

Miles Killian DVM
Chino Valley, Ariz.


Resistance Is Real


In general I completely agree with much of the argument made in the article “Fleas Persist, But Reason Isn’t Resistance” [March 2010].

We all know that many flea problems are more a lack of compliance and lack of treating the environment and other pets. I frequently have trouble convincing clients that they need to treat year-round.

All of us have heard clients say they have never seen a flea on their dog, so they don’t understand the need to continue treating for fleas. Often these are the owners of the dog with the classic presentation of flea allergy dermatitis. The dog has chewed off the hair over the base of the tail, and even in the exam room the dog jumps up to scratch madly at a spot on its flank, then a few minutes later the dog is going after a spot on a back leg.

Unfortunately these are the dogs on whom we have a hard time finding the one or two fleas driving them mad. If you find a flea, the owner will insist that the patient got it in the office. The argument made in the article is the same one made very frequently in our continuing education and in our literature.

I was not supposed to name names, but I am going to anyway.

I have always been a big fan of Frontline. I own three bull mastiffs and two cats. I have a fenced yard and allow the dogs to spend long periods outside. I live in the country and do not treat my yard all the time. I know we have regular visits by raccoons, possums, deer and the like. I do not bathe my dogs frequently and never bathe my cats.

For more than 10 years I used Frontline and was extremely happy with it. It controlled ticks and fleas very well. I used it on every pet every month religiously, according to the recommendations.

About three or four years ago I started to notice fleas on the dogs. Luckily none of the dogs are oversensitive. Over the next two or three months we had a huge problem. I treated the yard at that time and treated the house several times. I also bought new boxes of Frontline, thinking something might have been wrong with the old batch. I then switched to another product. Within about a month the problem was solved.

During this same period we started hearing from some clients in certain areas. They, too, felt like Frontline was no longer working well for them for fleas.

(I still think that Frontline is the best tick product out there. I have seen no change in its effectiveness on ticks.)

I continued using the new product and several months later tried to go back to Frontline. Within a month or two the flea problem was back in force.

I am sorry to be a party pooper, but I need some fairly definitive evidence that there is not a flea resistance developing to Frontline, at least in this area.

Just as my letter is not backed by a body of scientific evidence, the lack of developed resistance has not been substantiated. I know I am a study of one, but when switching to an alternative product corrects the vast majority of problems where we have ruled out compliance as the problem, you are going to have to make a better argument.

Rob Feola, DVM
Garner, N.C.

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