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Finding Dr Right
What makes a good vet?

We want to know about the veterinarian of your dreams – whether you’ve found him or her, or not.

For an article in an upcoming issue of The Bark on how we choose a veterinarian, we’d like to know what – in your eyes -- are the most important factors.

If you’ve found the perfect vet, just what is it that makes him or her perfect? If you’re still seeking that person, just what exactly is it you’re looking for.?

As our dogs become more and more like family members, the choice of vet is a decision humans probably take more seriously than they did 50 years ago. Time was one’s choice of veterinarian was based in large part on proximity.

We’re guessing that has changed. Now we seek opinions from friends, question fellow denizens of the dog park, turn to online reviews, and perhaps even make some in-office visits, all in our quest for the perfect vet.

But what makes the perfect vet?

Is it where he or she went to school? Is it a friendly staff, reasonable rates? Is it how quickly you can make an appointment or how long you spend in the waiting room? Is it bedside manner, empathy, or compassion? Is it how clearly that vet can communicate? Whether they honor your pet insurance? Is it how the vet connects with you, how the vet connects with your dog, or both?

We want to know what is (or was) the single most important factor in your choice of veterinarian, and how you found the one (if you have) that you can’t imagine ever leaving.

Tell us about the veterinarian of your dreams by leaving a comment, preferably with your name attached, on The Bark’s blog, or on ohmidog!

 

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John Woestendiek is a Pulitzer Prize–winning journalist, editor of the website Ohmidog! and author of Dog, Inc.: How a Collection of Visionaries, Rebels, Eccentrics and Their Pets Launched the Commercial Dog Cloning Industry.

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Submitted by Lucy | September 19 2013 |

Our vet appreciates it when I have done some Internet or other research and ask questions based on that, rather than getting offended that I've not relied on him exclusively. He is also very warm and engaging with both my dog and me (my dog is highly reactive, and my vet is very understanding).

Submitted by Cherie Mathis | September 19 2013 |

I have been fortunate to find a vet that my pug and I both are happy with. He is very attentive to Casey. He walks into the room smiling and speaks to both of us, not just me. I can tell he really likes and cares about Casey. That means so much to me because I know he will do his very best to take care of him. The office staff is always very nice and welcoming which is also a nice bonus.

Submitted by Colleen | September 19 2013 |

I want a vet who sincerely has an affection & affinity for animals, who greets my dog as s/he greets me, who listens to my concerns, answers my questions thoroughly, doesn't make me feel pressed for time or sees us as a $ first. Am currently going through terminal cancer with my pup and our vet had to send us out to a specialist for ultrasound needle guided biopsy - the difference between the two practices was night and day - pressure for surgery/chemo/radiation with the specialist, who never once looked at my dog during our discussion, never once addressed my dog by his name - only talked $ for surgery. I had to bring up the questions about life span, quality of life, effects of the surgery/chemo/radiation. It was horrific in so many ways (and that specialist called me twice after the diagnosis to apply pressure). After getting the results, I made a teary visit with our regular vet and he was the one that explained so much more, all the while, petting my dog and handing me kleenex. He's gone beyond strict medical care by asking me to make a list of my pups 5 best things he loves to do and each time we meet (every 90 days for tests), he reviews that list with me (does my pup still greet me at the door with a bark & a wag? does he still love to go on walks? car rides? to the dog park? does he love to eat?) as his belief is that when you can only answer yes to one or two of those traits, it's time to say goodbye and by making this list BEFORE they start happening, it's much easier for both of us to know. I loved that and it gives me confidence that he not only knows what he's doing & has been through this so many times, but that he cares for my pup. He's also shared that no matter how many times this happens, he's never gotten use to it and that it gets harder as he gets older. It let me know truly how human he is and how much is patients matter to him. Love him!

Submitted by Stefanie H | September 19 2013 |

I have an exceptional vet. After using a different vet that we wound up disliking we are now at the practice that everyone recommended. The owner of the practice is very beloved in the area & someone donated money to his alma mater to have a wing named after him after he saved their dog. He is an early adopter for new techniques as well. When he added a holistic vet to the practice she became our vet when no one else was available for an emergency visit. Since she liked me the receptionist always schedule us with her. What I like most about her is that she uses a combination of traditional & holistic veterinary practices. She is also an acupuncturist, which has been a god send for our collie with bone degeneration in his spine & arthritis in his hips. She keeps copious notes & will even sleep at the hospital if there is a patient she's worried about. She has even been known to stay in the cage with the animal if necessary. She also starts each physical exam by taking a full history even if it is a patient she sees regularly, and the care is constantly tweaked since she is always studying so she can provide the best care possible.
I also think it's important that the vets & the techs have a good & respectful working relationship. I like to see a vet who takes time to develop a relationship with the animal prior to the examination, putting the animal more at ease.

Submitted by Marcella Congdon | September 19 2013 |

Personable towards dog & me, able staff, clean offices, etc. all obvious. Thorough examinations and good diagnostic skills, absolutely. But the wise vet who can understand not overmedicating, not just routinely vaccinating a dog with "issues", willing to do titers to determine need for vaccines, willing to temper treatment to the dog not just the calendar ... that's the vet I'll return to.

Submitted by Jen Brighton | September 19 2013 |

We have been with the vet of our dreams since we acquired our prior dog, Mocha, a hyper Lab-boxer mix. He held our hands through two ACL surgeries, two dog bites that required stitches when she was a puppy, and end of life cancer that we eventually learned was in her heart ventricle where he had to drain the fluid from her body on numerous occasions. He was with us at the end when she was too ill to keep going at the ripe age of 14. He has continued to care, along with the other veterinarians in his office, for our 3 kitties and 2 pit bull mixes.

First and foremost what we love about Todd is his genuine affection, care and liking for the animals he works with. He gets down on the floor and hugs them if they are comfortable with that, lets them lick his face and talks to them before any examinations or procedures. Hand in hand with that is his reputation locally as an excellent surgeon. His father is a well-respected veterinarian who, with another vet, founded the business, and he has more than filled his father's shoes. He even lets his dad still work in the office and his sister has worked there as long as I can remember. There is no turnover of staff, which also says a lot. He has not charged me for well check evaluations required for my therapy dogs as he said I’m volunteering my time.

While there are many, many worthy veterinarians in my city, some of whom are my friends, I don't know what we would do without Dr. Todd Perry.

My most recent favorite Dr. Todd tale was when I took my dog, Inca, in for a checkup. The day before, she and my other dog, Domino, had discovered an old slug trap in the strawberries filled with sour beer and rotten slugs. Unbeknownst to us they (delightedly I’m certain) rolled in it. It was the most revolting smell my husband and I had ever encountered and we actually thought they had gotten into human feces. Keep in mind these dogs sleep in the bed. When I warned Todd not to hug Inca this time and told him what she had done and that we hadn't been successful in getting the stink off her, he got down on the floor, hugged her, looked into her eyes and said, "Good dog, Inca!" In other words, way to act like a dog.

What more can I say? I could write a book about Dr. Todd Perry and the other veterinarians at Fountain Veterinary Hospital.

Submitted by Amy Ruppert | September 19 2013 |

* A great diagnostician
* Years of experience
* Has colleagues in the practice to confer with
* Has access to or has latest/best equipment ie ultrasound, laser, cold laser, etc.
* Compassionate
* Welcomes rather than dismisses my input regarding knowing something is off with my dog and/or breed specific information I share.
* Loves what they do.
* Is willing to and continues to learn and expand their education

Submitted by Hannah Rose Ber... | September 19 2013 |

What makes the perfect vet? I say it's all about how they treat my pets.. No owner likes watching their dog cower behind them, as unknown and frightening fingers reach out to drag them away. I have personally been behind the doors that haunt our pet's dreams, and it's actually quite easy to pick out the vets that treat their patients like part of their family. I'm happy to say, that the veterinary clinic I visited and observed left me thinking that the animals getting treated there were infact, in good hands. That's what every pet owner should be able to think. These characteristics are especially important for when pets are being boarded. I want my dogs Aurora and Lucky to always be safe and protected when we have to leave them in the last place they'd like to be. I want my veterinarian to understand their fear and try their best to make them feel comfortable. We recently changed clinics and I'm extremely glad we did, because our last one seemed to be soulless. They would tug at my dogs' leashes with way more force than necessary making them gag, and acted as if my best friends were just another chore. It made my blood boiI. It was impossible to enjoy my two day escape to paradise, because I couldn't stop thinking about my Lucky and Aurora spending their weekend in a prison. Whenever I closed my eyes, Aurora's desperate attempts to free herself from the heartless creatures that held her back, flashed before me like images running across a movie screen. Play, rewind. Play, rewind. An endless cycle that did not fade until my babies were back home, safe and sound. We have taken the time to make sure this never happens again, and thankfully it hasn't. These days, I leave for vacation knowing my pets will be with kind, repectful, caring veterinarians, who love them almost as much as I do. I know I've found the perfect vet. I hope many others can say the same.

Submitted by Pauline | September 19 2013 |

I have the perfect vet but I interviewed several when I moved to the area and then chose. I want my vet to be AAA approved, have more than two vets in the office including some younger ones, and kind vet techs. I want a vet that is conservative and does not try to sell you the most expensive and latest thing, or procedure to start, my vet explains everything and supports my decisions and most important spends time with me and the dogs, a vet has to be kind, patient and caring and good with his employees. I want a vet that works WITH me to make decisions, I do dog rescue and my vet knows the costs, the dog issues and the problems rescues deal with, he is also very supportive of the local shelters in our area. I am blessed here in western MA.

Submitted by jeanne brase | September 19 2013 |

Our vet is fabulous he not only makes us feel good he is so caring tender as a doctor and doesn't want to add undue costs onto our bill that aren't necessary. Even really important his tender ways with our animals, is extremely important to us that he doesn't scare them. I have two dogs yet my german sheperd/chow is like me not one whom likes to go to a doctor however, he always says how calm, quiet, and sweet she is and i tell him and his very kind staff that they are so absolutely gifted in that they were meant to work with animals.

Submitted by DJ | September 19 2013 |

What I want in a vet is similar to what I want in a doctor. Someone with good medical skills, who keeps up to date, and who is very open to answering questions. For a vet is also helps if he/she understands that "pet parents" are very intense about their pet's well-being. Sometimes I have found a good vet by asking around but other times I just had to try a couple to find out.

One vet I went to told me to just ignore a lump on my dog's leg and I wasn't comfortable with that. I went to another vet who took a biopsy and discovered cancer. So there are vets out there with nice "bedside manner" but who are pretty incompetent.

One additional thing: My current "vet" is really a practice full of vets who can be contacted online and with very nice, responsive office staff.

Submitted by JIM fREEMAN | September 19 2013 |

I WOULD LIKE TO FIND ONE THAT WILL TAKE MY MEDICARE CARD. THEY ARE NOT AFRAID TO TELL YOU WHAT IT WOULD COST AND IT'S USUALLY DOUBLE WHAT I AM GUESSING. I TOOK MY 14 YEAR OLD HEINZ 57 TO GET HER TEETH CLEANED AND THE TOTAL WAS $486. WHEN I WAS LOOKING AT A BREAKDOWN. WHAT I THOUGHT WAS OUT OF LINE WAS A $76 CHARGE FOR A FLOURIDE TREATMENT. GIVE ME A BREAK IN MORE WAYS THAN ONE. THIS IS FROM A DIFFERENT VET. I TOOK MY MIN-PIN WHO WOULDN'T EAT AND THEY KEPT HER FOR 3 DAYS, DIDN'T KNOW WHAT WAS WRONG WITH HER, AND THEN SENT HER HOME TO DIE WHICH SHE DID 3 DAYS LATER,I WON'T TELL YOU WHAT I WAS CHARGED FOR THAT ONE. SHE WAS THE ONCE IN A LIFETIME COMPANION. I HAD HER CREMATED BY HERSELF SO I KNOW I HAD JUST HER ASHES AND HAVE LEFT A WILL STATING THAT SHE IS TO BE BURIED WITH ME SO WHEN WE COME BACK I WILL FEEL THAT LOVING LICK ON MY FACE.

Submitted by Madeline Davis | September 19 2013 |

Our second dog Harley, is a rescue. He was one of twenty dogs chained to trees, poorly nourished, unsocialized and most had hearth worm. SNIPPP, a rescue group in Burney, Ca, was willing to pay the vet bills. We were living in San Jose,Ca at the time. Our vet of 17 years was going to charge over $3000 for the heart worm treatments.SNIPPP put us in touch with a vet in Shinletown,Ca, Dr Lydon. He charged 1/10th what the San Jose vet was going to and completely understood what Harley needed medically and emotionally. Instead of being crated 24/7 to keep him calm, he was laying down with the office staff getting love and attention. Today, four years later, Shingletown is our permanent home. When we visit Dr. Lydon., he sits on the floor, kicks back and talks to me. This lets Harley get use to the different environment
As you can tell we owe this rural country vet more than just gratitude, he helped us save Harley

Submitted by Dorothea Pond | September 19 2013 |

It makes sense to have clinics with more than one vet to share overhead, etc., but I am happy that we have found a clinic like that such that we could experience the different vets until we found the one we preferred. And this clinic is to our liking because we aren't told to make an oppointment and accept the vet we get. Now that we have a preference, we can have our dog treated by only the vet of our choice. I think consistent health care by a doctor who knows the patient well is as imporant for dogs as it is for humans.

Submitted by jen richards | September 19 2013 |

i just wanted to give my opinion on what makes the perfect vet. yes, while getting us in the same day is important, the most important thing when it comes to a vet is trust. i want to know that they have eugene and olgas best interest in mind. i also like a vets office that is clean and easy to get to , or somewhat close to home.

Submitted by Reva Laituri | September 19 2013 |

When my husband I got our first dog, there were two clinics in our town. The puppy we adopted at six weeks became deathly ill within the first 48 hours of bringing her home. The clinic we went to did not want to keep her at the clinic (she was severely dehydrated), said they didn't know what she had but that it appeared to be related to cat distemper, gave me some medication to hopefuly control the vomiting and diarhhea, and said she would probably die. We later figured she was probably one of the first parvo cases in our area. I was determined she was not going to die and did everything I could to see that didn't happen. She lived and we had another 15 years together until she lost her fight against cancer. Needless to say, we switched to the other clinic. I had no complaints with that clinic and was a client for many years. They gradually expanded and hired a couple more vets. Which brings me to Dr. Scott Jandron.

He was fresh out of school the first time I saw him for one of my dogs. At the time I had three older dogs that had a multitude of health issues. One had Cushings Disease, heart block and other problems. The other had diabetes that was hard to control with complications of glaucoma, blindness, seizures, etc. He went above and beyond in caring for them, often researching new treatments and drugs, and calling me to see how they were doing. At the same time, my brother started going to him with his dog who had developed a tumor on his leg, which had to be amputated. Dr. Jandron, called my brother at home to see how Tuffy was doing...while his wife was in labor giving birth to their first child! After a few years, he left that clinic to open his own. For a short period of time he was without a clinic but would still take my calls at his home and see my dogs. When the time came to euthanize one of them, he came to my house. It's now been over 20 years and he has seen my current animals their whole lives. He knows them, remembers their histories, and cried with me when last December Gracie was euthanized in the end stages of kidney failure.

What do I like about him?

1. He remembers all my animals, past and present.
2. He tells me what the problem is, straight up. I don't like to be protected or coddled. I prefer to hear the diagnosis, prognosis, and treatments available. He gives it all to me and allows me to make an informed decision. What I DON'T like are vets who assume you may not want or be able to afford certain treatments so never even tell you about them. He gives me all the info along with pros and cons of treatments and meds and what I might expect. And when I make a decision, he doesn't try to change my mind or make me feel guilty. I do depend a lot on his experience and ask for it and give a lot of weight to his recommendations. He treats me with respect and I have never seen a iota of arrogance or impatience in my interactions with him.
3. He has given me his personal cell number and has encouraged me to even call him when he is on vacation. While there are three other vets in the practice, he is the only one that knows my animals, and if a serious problem arises or an issue with an on-going medical issue, he understands that I would prefer seeing him.
4. He will always make room for me in his schedule... no matter how booked he is, and does not bill it as an "emergency visit". In fact, there are times he doesn't charge me for a visit at all, or will just give me medications to try. A lot of other people have discovered what a gem he is because he is always booked far in advance, so I especially appreciate the consideration he shows me and my pets. One of my dogs currently goes to the clinic about every three weeks for laser treatment with one of several vet techs. Even though we don't have an appointment to see him, he will always stop and say hello, ask how Dusty is doing, and even sometimes check her out if I say she is having a problem (no extra charge).
5. Another thing I appreciate is that he will teach me so much about whatever problem my dog might be having. One dog has recurring allergies. Rather than make me bring the dog in for an office visit every time he needs medications, he has shown me what to look for and unless something is different or unusual, trusts me when I tell him the same thing is recurring. Same went when I had a dog with chronic urinary tract infections. Our relationship is such that he trusts my descriptions and evaluations of conditions. And when he says maybe I should bring the dog in, I trust him and bring the dog in.
6. I also will occasionally foster dogs for our local shelter. One elerly Sheltie had tumors on his chest, stomach, and between his legs so huge he could barely walk and could only lay in certain positions. Because the tumors did not raise to the level of needing emergency medical care, the dog, who was found as a stray, could not have surgery done until its impound period was up. I took the dog to see Dr. Jandron and asked what it would cost to have the major tumors (which were likely non-cancerous) removed so that he could navigate better. I told him I would be willing to personally pay for the procedure. He said the surgery would normally run $600-$700, but he would do it for $200 (basically covering the costs for the medications, supplies, blood work, etc.). The rest he would donate. He does do a lot for our local shelter, but this was something he was doing for me, personally. The owner ended up re-claiming the dog so it went home and the surgery was never done... unless the owner followed through with her vet (she was from out of state). But the offer had been on the table, and a date for the surgery even set. That is a kindness I will never forget.

I consider myself very fortunate to have such a kind, trustworthy,and dedicated vet to care for my dogs. He often laughs now when I ask about the prognosis on any medical issue because he said my dogs throw all the statistics out the window and recover more quickly, respond to treatments better, and outlive predicted outcomes. He credits me with much of it, but in my book, it is all him. He consistently gives me all the tools I need to do everything within my ability to give my dogs what they need. I am grateful he is substantially younger than me because hopefully that means I will never have to look for a new vet. I would have a high regard for him if he only did half these things. That he does so much more, makes him truly exceptional.

Submitted by Jane Brydon | September 20 2013 |

I tried many vets until I found the one that I now use. I chose Dr. Rose DiLeva because she practices non-traditional medicine as well as traditional veterinary care, which was extremely important to me. She offers acupuncture, Chinese herbs and other natural products. Her vaccines don't contain mercury. I learned the importance of this because she takes time explaining things to me. She is compassionate and caring with both owners and pets. I also like the fact that I am scheduled so that I am not waiting in a waiting room full of other animals, I am taken right into an examining room and seen shortly thereafter. I really like the small practice atmosphere. I went to a large practice and never knew which vet I was going to see and no one knew me. I went to a practice where the vet was afraid of my large, very kind and well trained Rottweiler. I went to a small practice that I really liked, but I really wanted someone who would offer both traditional and non-traditional methods. I feel I have found it all with Dr. Rose.

Submitted by Dori Aravis | September 20 2013 |

Compassion more than anything else, and knowing that your pet is a part of your family, I had an Alaskan malamute who had liver cancer. The vet said "you might as well put him down now on the table since he won't survive". I said no and took him home. I felt what he did was heartless to say the least, and I stopped
having him as my vet. This still makes me cry thirty years later.

Submitted by C. Scharfeld | September 20 2013 |

I look for compassion and a willingness to work with me, not just tell me what to do. I was very fortunate to have great vets in Jacksonville and have found another great one in Tampa. They communicate openly and don't have a problem with me when I question something or disagree.

Submitted by Cynthia | September 20 2013 |

I want a vet I can trust, and who will work with people that can't afford procedures, and that you can tell animals are their number one priority. I used to have a vet where I used to live in Jackson, CA who was the best, she would take payments, she would come to your house if necessary, no charge. She would charge cost only to people that could not afford something, never met anyone so dedicated. That is a great vet!

Submitted by Cheryl | September 20 2013 |

They need have a clean facility and be current with behavior and using positive methods in which case I know they will be gentle with my dogs. They also need to keep updated with equipment and training. I also want a place that practices alternative medicine along with conventional.

Submitted by Janet Harlan | September 20 2013 |

For me the perfect vet shows empathy to the owners and total commitment to the animals. Our vet, Dr. Kim Robinson, at Catawba Animal Hospital in Rock Hill. SC is perfect. She is always there for us. Available even after office hours if we have questions or an emergency. She is a friend, an expert, a counselor. She clearly explains the options and never makes you feel bad if you can't go with the most expensive choice.

Submitted by Alice Moore | September 23 2013 |

Years ago I had a dog with an attitude problem. He was fearful and defensive. When he was less than a year old he growled at the vet when she approched him during a house call. We had had him since he was a fur ball.
As time went by he became more afraid. When I walked him certain places would strike panic in him, he would lunge to escape something.
His doctor knew how to handle him to prevent his defensive behavior. She was always patient and understanding of his fears, she would pet hm and talk to him to sough him. She will always be my vet as long as I live here. Her name is Anne Jackson at Sassafrass Vet Hospital in Smyneria DE.
Alice Moore

Submitted by Joe | September 28 2013 |

Our favorite vet shows great compassion for our dogs. You can see that he cares. We've developed a level of trust with him and he knows that if we bring the dogs in for something he needs to pay attention and we are not (usually) being hypochondriacs. He will take the time to explain and communicate so that we understand the issues and are informed on the decisions we have to make. When he says "I would do X if this is my dog" we know that he has the animal's best interests at heart. He is Dr. Adams in Colorado Springs.

Submitted by Sheri Lattimore | September 29 2013 |

Please remember that my time is valuable too. I don't want to wait at the counter to check in, then wait for a room, then wait in the exam room and finally wait at the counter again to pay. Last trip to my previous vet entailed a 40 minute series of waits for a 7 minute exam.
Waiting room design is important. Separate cats from dogs from other pets and have enough space so that sick pets are not crammed in the same small space with other pets.
Front desk staff should be calm, professional and trained. Baby talk is not required.
Help me to understand the relative importance of the various tests and procedures. Help me use my vet dollars wisely. Pressuring me to use every test available is irresponsible.
Check before charging me for optional procedures. My dog had a nail clip at the groomer's last week. I wasn't happy to see a charge for nail clipping when I got home and had time to examine your bill.

Submitted by Anonymous | November 18 2013 |

I was disappointed by what I thought was a “perfect” vet. Let’s remember that veterinarians are busy people and do make mistakes. They often backup other vets within their facility even if they know something went a muck. Foremost above all else, be proactive and use your own instinct when it comes to your dog. This is why I like the BARK!

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