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Humane Society Offers Deals! Frugalist pleased

Never in my entire life, which as you know began during the Cretaceous Period, have I ever walked into a veterinarian’s office and managed to escape without some sort of charge. Until today.

Even the Wonderful New Vet zinged me $7.50 after the “free” introductory visit for Cassie the Pembroke Welsh Corgi: charge for setting up records. Right. But the Humane Society, where last Friday I scored the nifty Little Dog, promises that you can take your adopted pet to any VCA animal hospital for a free check-up and two weeks’ worth of free care for several ailments typically picked up in animal shelters. I figured this would be about as “free” as WNV’s “free” service; maybe more so. But nay!

As expected, Cassie began to show signs of kennel cough last night. Few dogs get out of a crowded animal shelter without kennel cough, an extremely contagious bacterial disease that can bundle with it a virus or two and maybe another bacterium. While this ailment can spirit your pet away (and it can be zoonotic-that is, contagious to humans-under rare circumstances), it’s usually not very serious. It’s a lot less serious and a lot more easily dealt with if you attack it at the first sign of doggy di$comfort. Oh. $orry. Make that “discomfort.” Doggy discomfort.

Well, Humane Society clients have five days in which make an appointment to take advantage of the two-week “warranty” period, so I called this morning and to my amazement got an appointment mid-afternoon. The luncheon on today’s schedule, thank God, got moved to Wednesday (don’t ask!). This allowed me to race out to campus, actually get some work done, and race back in time to appear chez the corporate veterinarian at the appointed moment.

Dr. Brad Walker and his brand-new sidekick, Dr. Rebecca Baciak, a freshly minted young veterinarian awaiting her state boards, examined the pooch, opined that a case of kennel cough indeed very likely was a-brewing, and forked over not one but two prescription meds.
Total cost of their services and meds: $87.50
Total cost to moi: $0.00

Yesh. Not even a “records fee.”

They suggested testing her little rabbit pellets for worms but allowed as how waiting until payday would do no harm. If done within 14 days of the adoption, the fecal test could be done on the Humane Society’s dime, too. And of course they want to get the dog on heartworm meds, a lifetime pharmaceutical that other vets have advised is unnecessary in my part of town. Big Pharma’s tentacles are everywhere: in your doctor’s office, in your shrink’s office, in your dentist’s office, and in your veterinarian’s office.

That notwithstanding, I liked this guy, a former large-animal vet from the Midwest who had shifted gears to small animals. The place was clean and he projected an air of experience and competence. It struck me that Doc Walker would be a mighty fine mentor for a young veterinarian at the start of her career.

So, kudos to the Humane Society for cooking up these freebies.

But a caveat: as I write this, I just got a telephone solicitation from VCA, which obtained my phone number from the Humane Society. That, I could do without.

Reviews of VCA shops range from very positive through mixed to negative, with many complaints about high prices and at least one allegation of questionable billing practices.

Wonderful New Vet’s statement doesn’t itemize the amount she would have charged for Cassie’s free Humane Society Exam, but only lists it as a write-off at $0.00. How that works, I don’t know: it could be a lagniappe, or it could be that her office has a less elaborate deal with the Humane Society. Her first examination of Anna H. Banana came to $278, but it included an X-ray of a very sick, very large dog, a lengthy consultation, and fistfuls of high-powered meds. Remember, at the end I was giving Anna 11 pills a day, four doses of eyedrops a day, and smearing two ointments on her four times a day. So no comparison is possible.

Any outfit that asks me, as the VCA folks did, what my “baby’s” name is arouses my suspicions. The Humane Society’s paperwork folder is labeled “New Pet Parenting Guide.” This is the sort of sentimentality the pet industry fosters to persuade you to part with lots and lots of your money. I figure an old guy who used to run a practice for farm animals probably knows better. But hey! The man has gotta make a living.

Remember this mantra, no matter how cute, valiant, or smart your dog or cat:
It’s a dog!
It’s a cat!
It’s not your kid!

Adopt a dog or cat from the Humane Society. If you’re smart and lucky, you’ll get good deals all the way around. But bear in mind: caveat emptor.
3 Comments left on iWeb site


Don’t forget to factor in the cost of transporting Cassie to the “free” vet for this treatment of follow-ups.

Tuesday, June 17, 200806:22 AM


I got the same deal with VCA when we got our dog through the Humane Society.I went back to our regular vet afterwards.

I know you don’t think dogs are human, but you never met my Jonah.Now my current dog, Phoebe, is a dog.Definitely.


Tuesday, June 17, 200801:24 PM


True enough. On the other hand, I don’t deny that dogs are sentient, feeling beings.

I’ve had dogs all my adult life, and during that fairly lengthy time, I’ve had one that I would classify as “great”: a German shepherd who came to live with us when her humans divorced. She saved my son’s life, saved me from a rapist, chased a cat burglar out of our house, drove off a man who came up to me and my son waving a machete in the neighborhood park, knew who belonged where, demonstrated that she could make decisions based on facts and judgment (not an exaggeration!), and was generally a mellow and wonderful friend.

Most dogs are mellow and wonderful, given half a chance. All my other dogs have been good dogs, but only Greta was truly a great dog.