Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Review of Apache VCA Vet Clinic in Sierra Vista, AZ

Below is the review I posted on yelp and everywhere else I can access. It needs to be shared far and wide:

Before I start my story, let me say this in case you read no further: if you care about your pet and your money, you must avoid this place.

The back story: So I moved here almost a year ago, and I have pets, so naturally I’ve been in the market for a vet. Pet problems arose, as they do, and so I’ve gone to two other vets in town. (I wrote another review about one other problem I had because it, too, was serious. There is one local vet that seems good so far: New Frontier.) 

I took both of my dogs to Apache VCA a few months back to get the rattlesnake vaccination (which did not, by the way, help at all when my dog was bitten, but then I’m jumping ahead – sorry). Each went in a couple of times, and although one vet tech was rude, the other folks with whom I interacted were great.

This last Sunday, a rattlesnake bit one of my dogs. There is no emergency care in Sierra Vista during off
Rattlesnake-bite-swollen face
hours (and that is INSANE!), so I drove her to Tucson, to Veterinary Specialty Center. (They are super expensive, but utterly fabulous.)

My dog stayed about 24 hours. I brought her home last night, and she was doing okay, but wasn’t taking her meds (bad taste). I didn’t want to miss another day of work, so instead of driving back to Tucson to ask for liquid meds, I made an appointment at Apache VCA.

The incident: Within two minutes of seeing the vet I was assigned (and whom I’d never seen before), I knew she had never seen a snakebite victim before. Not deterred by her own incompetence, however, and assuming I knew nothing about snakebites (which I do), she immediately started the hard sell. She tried to tell me how bad off my dog was because of certain symptoms she showed, and recommended several tests and other things “they” recommend for snakebite victims. I told her that the hospital gave me detailed go-home instructions, and that the hospital knew of my dog’s condition before they released her, and the tests she was suggesting wasn’t among their post-release recommendations. She became very, very rude. Three times she told me that my dog needed immediate hospitalization, and when I tried to talk, she overtalked me, and told me it was her responsibility to tell me what was best for my dog, and then I could decide whether to choose to follow those recommendations – and take care of my dog.

I got sick of it. I told her I was going to call the hospital from which my dog had just been released and get their take on this. Her body language said that that made her impatient and angry, and she told me she’d give me some private time and stomped out. I called and spoke to the vet tech at Veterinary Specialty Center, and told them my dog’s issues and why I’d come in to VCA today. She said she’d talk to the vet and call me back, and I asked the tech to have the vet call this vet.

About five minutes later, one of the vets at Veterinary Specialty Center called my cell. She told me that she tried to get a hold of the vet who had been treating my dog, but that the front desk told her that my treating vet had GONE TO LUNCH. I rushed out of the exam room and to the front desk, and they confirmed that she had indeed gone to lunch. I spoke to the calling vet, and she confirmed that my dog did not need hospitalization.

When I left, I told the front desk that I would never be back.

After her lunch concluded, I guess, the vet called my cell phone and tried to hard sell me on some additional procedures. The call dropped, and I wondered whether to call her back. She called me, however, and immediately accused me of hanging up on her. When I told her what I planned to do (which is what the Veterinary Specialty Center vet told me to do), she told me that I wasn’t doing what was best for my dog. Things went downhill from there.

And so I went home, and made an appointment to take my dog in to Veterinary Specialty Center in Tucson in a few days. 

And I will never, ever go back to VCA. I am appalled. In order to protect pets and their parents from VCA’s malpractice and avarice, I wrote this review.

Finally: In case VCA – or any vet or vet-related person – reads this, let me give you some tips from a very discerning consumer of veterinary services:
1. Don’t pretend you know things you don’t, and don’t assume that I don’t know some, or even a lot, of information about my pet’s condition. When you pretend, it destroys your credibility almost instantly. Instead, tell me that you have not dealt with this before but are going to consult with someone to make sure we get things right (and then do so!). It’s okay with me if the appointment takes a little extra time; I very much appreciate your concern and wanting to get things right. I will trust that you’re competent in other areas, and will suspect that you are about to make yourself so in this one, too. And – big plus – I will begin to trust you.
2. Learn how to deal with people calmly and compassionately. Most people who spend their hard-earned money on vet care love their pets, often like children. Thus, in this field, emotions can run quite high. I need someone who can help me sort through what’s going on and who actually cares about my pet and me. If you think I’m rude, that means you’re not getting it, and you need to cultivate more compassion and people training. Know this: Even if I respect the care you provide, if I don’t like you, I will never come back. 
3. Don’t – DO NOT – hard sell medical procedures to me. (For that matter, don’t try to sell them to me at all!) Your attempts to manipulate me into paying for procedures evokes disgust and anger, and destroys any trust I might have in you. Worse, for you, it means I won’t come back and I won’t recommend you to my friends, and I am a vocal person with a community presence. Instead, provide information to me objectively, and don’t be afraid to tell me that I don’t need something that I can clearly do without. Show me that for you it’s at least as much about caring for my babies as it is about making money. If you earn my trust, I’ll be back, and I’ll tell others to come here, too.
4. Don’t – DO NOT – try to make me buy things my pet does not need. Let me say that again: DO NOT TRY TO SELL ME THINGS MY PET DOES NOT NEED. It not only evokes the emotions listed in #2, it makes me *so* completely disgusted with you that not only will I never come back, I will begin planning how to let others know that you are the absolute wrongest place to patronize. There is no alternative for this one, or any way to make this practice less unethical or wrong. It tells me – it screams to me – that you care only about money, and that my pet’s health and safety comes in second. Once I believe this, you will never see me again, and I will go way out of my way to tell everyone I know what I know about you. You will lose far more money than you would have earned had you not tried to sacrifice my pet’s safety on the altar of your greed, I promise.