Reading the paper over the past couple of weeks, it seems the topic of poor service has become quite common especially on the Burin Peninsula.
I had such an encounter quite recently at the Southern Animal Hospital.
Our pet is currently residing in Newfoundland and her annual checkup is due in July. Our dog has severe hip dysplasia, which is under control, and hypothyroidism which requires her to be on medication.
Since her checkup was due, we are unable to get more medication without a blood test. In June, I had her caretaker, my sister, contact the Southern Animal Hospital to arrange an appointment for her checkup.
She was told over the phone they would require her medical records before booking any appointment. That same day, I made the arrangements to have her chart faxed.
I called to follow up to ensure they received it. Upon talking to the receptionist, I was told my sister had indeed called to make the appointment and now they had the records, they would contact her to make the appointment.
Several weeks passed and my sister never received the phone call. This happens when dealing with clinics so I called myself to follow up once again.
I explained the situation to the first receptionist. She wasn't aware of the situation. I asked I be placed on hold instead of them saying they would call me back whilst she looked into it.
After 20 minutes on hold, the receptionist I had originally spoken with several weeks ago came onto the phone. Immediately, she was defensive stating she would never call my sister to make the appointment and that is our responsibility.
I understand it is the responsibility of the pet owner to book the appointment for annual check-ups but this was a special circumstance. They came back with an appointment the second week in August.
My concern was her medication and would they prescribe just enough to get her through to the appointment date. She had to check with the Doctor, which was totally understandable.
After being put on hold again, the Veterinarian, Dr. Harding came onto the phone. I have never spoken or met this man in person.
I would assume he would come onto the phone saying hello and introducing himself. However, when he came onto the line, he asked "What's the problem?"
At this point, I didn't think there was a problem and I was just trying to establish an appointment time for my pet. I attempted to explain the situation directly to him but he refused to listen.
I then realized I did not want to build any sort of relationship with regards to my pet's health and well being with a person, who obviously does not pride themselves on treating the caregivers of his patients with respect and common courtesy.
I did inform him I would be submitting a formal complaint to the Veterinarian Medical Association of Newfoundland.
Actually, he offered to give me the number and when I took him up on it, he said, "Look it up yourself."
Perhaps, like many other times before with other clients, he thought this would go no further and I would not take the initiative myself to pursue this matter.
I understand he is the only vet in the area and is probably overworked. However, that does not give him or his staff the right to be rude and unprofessional.
In the end, it is the care of the animal that is important. For that reason, I drive the Burin Peninsula Highway on Tuesday, to take our family pet to the Clarenville Vet Hospital to receive the care they are obviously in the business of providing.
I encourage others, who have had a similar experience with The Southern Animal Hospital, to also submit in writing to the Newfoundland and Labrador College of Veterinarians. The mailing address is Box 718, Carbonear, NL, A1Y 1C2.
I am sure there are people out there with pets who have received wonderful care from his clinic. However, I know there are plenty of people who travel the Burin Peninsula highway on a regular basis to the Clarenville vet clinic on behalf of their beloved pet, because they have had a similar experience as my family.
It is for those people, that I have written this letter.
For the love of your pet,