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Vets and Pets

I’m late with this writing because the weeks before Christmas were really crowded.  We had a visit from our daughter who is in the last year of vet school at UT, Knoxville. Then we visited our son & family in Pooler, GA on a quick overnight trip. It’s the former visit which motivates this article.

All of us who have pets eventually go to a vet.  Kathy and I have cats and dogs so we spend an inordinate amount of time there. When you know the first names of all the vet techs, you know you probably have too many pets.  But that’s a different story.  What is on my mind is the effort it takes to become a vet:  Four years of school, three in the primary school and one in clinicals, translation – student practice.  For those with no financial help, the costs for all this are extreme, like serious 6 figures.

Up to now, my experiences with college postgraduate costs were centered on engineers or business graduates getting a masters or doctorate while working.  Many employers helped pay for these degrees if they were work related.  Most vet students do not have this benefit.

All vet students have top notch grades and there are few if any scholarships. Instead those who need financial help get it through student loans.  So there you have it.  Many vets come into this working world hundreds of thousands of dollars in debt.

The next time you go to the vet, keep this in mind when you get the bill.  The younger vets may be paying the equivalent of a house payment for student loans. 

Now the economy is really in the dumps but vets in general have not been hit as hard as some professions. However the starting pay for a new DVM may be in the mid 50s or so depending on the area.  This is lower than a few years ago.  The interesting observation is that vets are in a medical practice.  Most pet owners don’t consider medical treatment of their pets as discretionary.  Other pet services, like grooming or even boarding, are more discretionary and therefore are hurt more by this economy.  Doctors not so much.

I’ll close with a survey we completed recently for a pet supply chain.  You know the type – how’d we do serving you – get $3 off your next visit.  One question asked how often you visited the pet store and the most frequent answer was once a month.  We had to laugh as we’d just finished our second visit this week. 

Welcome to 2012.

Go Army – Beat Navy.

Gene Canavan is a retired West Point Graduate and Paper Mill Utilities Manager and lives in Prattville, Alabama, USA


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