Beyond The Street Value




Beyond the Street ValueBeyond the Street Value, sentimental damages TexasInteresting tidbit in the AAHA NEWStat email this week: pet owners in Texas can now claim sentimental damages for the loss of their dog, according to a recent court decision. Interesting tidbit in the AAHA NEWStat email this week: pet owners in Texas can now claim sentimental damages for the loss of their dog, according to a recent court decision. staff-safariNovember 18, 2011Beyond the Street ValueBy Katherine Dobbs, RVT, CVPM, PHR

Court ruling
Interesting tidbit in the AAHA NEWStat email this week: pet owners in Texas can now claim sentimental damages for the loss of their dog, according to a recent court decision.

The story was a sad one in which a family needed more time to obtain the money necessary to get their doggy-gone-lost out of the custody of animal control, and in the meantime the dog was euthanized…when it should have been “on hold” waiting. There is no doubt that this family experienced “sentimental damages” as it were, but are there larger implications to these kinds of cases being decided in favor of the saddened pet owners? A few things come to mind.

First of all, it’s been determined that when a client becomes angry, they are more likely to proceed with legal ramifications in general. So if we deliver excellent client service, even in the face of a pretty bad scenario, we hedge our bets that things can be worked out without involving a judge. Of course this is only one of the many reasons why we should always deliver excellent client service!

Next, it’s a victory for the human-animal bond, demonstrating that this bond is so tangible that it deserves replacement by cash if wrongly disturbed. This is the case already for the human-human bond as we know, so it brings our relationship with animals up to a certain similar level. These pets are part of our families!

Finally, this may be the next best thing to happen to the profession in terms of raising the bar for professionals delivering animal healthcare. In other words, if a practice can show that they only have licensed veterinarians, and credentialed veterinary technicians (or certified veterinary assistants?) doing what they are allowed to do via the state practice act, then they have provided the best our profession has to offer.

It’s interesting, we’ve been talking a long time now about how the general public needs to learn more about what a credentialed veterinary technician can do so they will demand that a practice only use these professionals for certain tasks involving the animal, yet is that the proper perspective to have? My good friend Val and I were just talking, and she mentioned that she ran into a fella that was completely outside of the veterinary world and was just learning of the debate between having credentialed vs. “off the street” people working in practice. He was flabbergasted, because he always just assumed that the people in the veterinary facility were trained and licensed to do the job, just as you would assume the same in a human medical facility.

Perhaps that’s the issue, then. Pet owners don’t need to know there are credentialed technicians working in your practice; they need to know that the other practices do not have these professionals employed on their animal care teams! Hmmm, maybe we need to try hitting a completely different target after all.

In the meantime, pay close attention to what happens in the courts of law. These decisions will set precedents and establish standards that those in veterinary medicine twenty years ago would have never expected, and they will affect the profession and all of us in it as time moves forward.

11/18/2011 6:18 PM

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