Ask Amy: Veterinary assistant asks what to do about irresponsible pet owners

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Sep 01, 2009
By dvm360.com staff

I'm a veterinary assistant in a college town where young clients always decline care. They say they don't have the time or money. I say students are irresponsible pet owners. What can I do?
—ANIMAL HOUSE MOM



DEAR ANIMAL HOUSE MOM:
First, savor the victory that you're seeing the pet. Second, position yourself as a partner with young owners. That means when students object to recommendations, don't assume they're saying they won't help their pet. Instead, imagine that they've just asked you, "How can I afford the recommendations or find the time to comply?" Then you can talk about how to make the care more cost-effective and efficient for them.

Do this by explaining pet insurance or payment plans. Many students may be struggling to pay tuition and can't afford a year's supply of heartworm preventive today. Discuss the possibility of splitting preventives packages into smaller doses. Maybe a heavy class load has left them with an odd schedule. Let students know about drop-off and pick-up options that may work better with their available hours.

Finally, if students still turn down recommendations, don't try to make them feel bad about their choices. In general, clients need to hear a message six to eight times for it to register. So make students feel good about what they're doing for their pets and know that each time you talk to them, you're one step closer to helping their pets. live longer and healthier lives. —AMY