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WTF - Vet clinic no longer does emergencies?!

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    WTF - Vet clinic no longer does emergencies?!

    Our local mixed large/small animal clinic, with 3-4 DVMs, no longer does emergencies, but refers them to a 24 hr small animal clinic 35 miles away.

    When asked why, we were told the vets no longer wanted to work off-hours and threatened to quit if they were forced to. They said none of the three local clinics does emergencies anymore.

    When we asked what we are supposed to do with a colicky horse, a broken leg or an emergency euthanasia on a weekend or evening, they just said "sorry".

    Needless to say, we are taking our business elsewhere (to a clinic 15 miles away) which is less convenient, but we can't have a vet who won't do emergencies!

    I would think when one decides to go to vet school, one knows and accepts that the hours are not 9 to 5?

    Is this a new trend among vets?

    None around me do emergencies either. I'd have to travel to Ocala which is an hour from me.
    The one nearby vet clinic doesn't even do farm calls for horses, cattle etc. You have to haul in, but their place isn't able to handle my 4 horse gooseneck.


      There's a town in the Upper Peninsula of MI that has the same problem.

      We are also in the UP and just got a clinic that will do horses at all. They're terribly expensive though... Especially for emergencies.


        Strange. I know of several local mixed animal practices where they do not do small animal emergencies anymore but they do still do large animal calls. We have 3-4 ER clinics that treat small animals though so I think that is pretty common.

        Even the solo mobile large animal vets usually have 1-2 more they team up with to cover on calls for each other. I would be changing vets too, no on call and no back up plan? Sorry Charlie, if I could plan when my horse gets hurt I can assure you it would be M-F 9-5 too hahaha
        You can't fix stupid.... but you can breed it!


          That is awful. Thankfully I am 20 min away from a 24/7 equine hospital that is my horses primary care giver, they also make farm calls. There are a variety of mobile vets in the area I could use in a pinch and they all do emergencies.


            None of the small animal clinics have done emergencies in this area in years. They all refer to the emergency after hours clinics in the region. I think there are two of them now.

            Most equine vets here have some sort of emergency service, but not all of them. Prior to moving to this area I had always lived in "horsey" areas on the east coast. The first boarding barn I was at there was another woman about my age who was also new to the area. Neither of us ever fathomed that some of the equine vets here don't do emergencies (and the boarding barn's vet was one of them). It was one of her horses who had the after hours painful colic episode that taught us both not to assume. Talk about learning the hard way.

            The veterinary world can be a thankless career-- it's not all puppies, kittens, and easy money like so many folks assume. It's long hours, stressful work, and the compensation is not what it should be considering the costs that go into practicing. I understand vets wanting a better quality of life. But it's totally unprofessional IMO to leave animal owners hanging without an emergency option, like in the OP's situation! Rotate call or set up some sort of referral system with other clinics in the area... don't just tell the horse owners "sorry, tough luck!"
            Don't fall for a girl who fell for a horse just to be number two in her world... ~EFO


              The small animal vets here often don't do emergencies. My horse vet does of course, and he'll do small animals so I use him for everything though I don't have many small animal needs, just the occasional cat issue. But he's not particularly close, it takes him at least half an hour to get here on a good day. And I triage with him -- when I call I am sure to say how important it is because he is incredibly busy and most of the time it is a few hours at best and late that night if it's not ultra-important before I can get him out. For lameness it can be a few days. Not his fault, he's desperately overworked.

              I don't really blame the small animal clinics for not wanting to work all hours, my friends in that field have families and want to see their kids and horses and have vacations and stuff like everyone else. If there is a good emergency clinic option, why not send people there?

              I would say that there is another option if there is a vet that will serve them within 15 miles. When I lived in a truly rural area our closest vet was 90 miles away. That was rough, we did emergency euths by gunshot. Our vet showed us how and it always went very well though, it actually is faster than the pink stuff and they drop like a rock, but it isn't fun.

              I do think it is a good idea to get a working relationship with more than one vet in your area because you never know when you won't be able to get ahold of one in an emergency and need the other to come out, so I would probably start doing a couple things with the 15 mile clinic and use the first clinic for something every now and then too. Or 2 different clinics that do after hours if there are 2, in some places there just aren't but if there are, I am now so trained to worry about this by my years of no vet access that I try to keep on the radar with a few vets.


                Yep, similar story here.
                I've never understood the insult calling a person a "fruitbat." It's not much of an insult to the person. More often than not, the persons behavior proves it to be more of an insult to the fruitbat!


                  Do you have a particularly good relationship with one of the vets? Can you talk to that individual about contacting them in case of emergency? I imagine they are sick of those midnight calls where the horse isn't actually ill, but I'd be shocked if a vet was not willing to take a call from a knowledgable and long term client. If that's the case, I'm really sorry. That sucks.

                  We do have relationships with 2 different vet clinics. One does our prepurchase and lameness exams or special cases. The other does our emergency or semi-emergency calls. The first does have on call staff, but their schedule is just fuller and harder to reach on a moment's notice. However, we have 20 horses owned by the school plus 10+ boarders so we have enough business to be spread around.
                  Proud member of the "I'm In My 20's and Hope to Be a Good Rider Someday" clique


                    It's the same here, all the small animal vets in town now refer all after hour emergencies to the emergency vet service which is a 45+ minute drive away. Large animal vets, we have 2, I'm not sure about emergency calls with one, they used to require you to haul in for everything so I quit using them. The vet I'm currently using will do emergency farm calls but you pay BIG $$$ for it. His office is set up for small animal only, getting a big truck and trailer in and out of his place isn't happening and there is no place to exam a horse other than standing in the parking lot. However, he still likes for you to haul in! Some things he will just refer you to the Vet school which is 2 1/2 hrs away, not a lot of help in a real emergency. The last 2 emergencies I had, I spent an hour on the phone trying to get someone to the barn and another hour+ waiting on them to show up. It's scary to think that something traumatic and needing immediate attention might have to wait hours for help.


                      I lived like this for about five years before a new vet opened practice in the county. The ONLY large animal vet in the entire county just didn't show up when you called with an emergency. One time, I called with a deathly sick foal that he'd already seen the day before (a weekday), and he'd told me it was FINE, and early the next morning it was down. The foal DIED in my arms while I was waiting for the vet to show up - and it turns out he'd eaten breakfast w/ his family, gone to church, and watched some TV w/ the kids before showing up...

                      It was the last time I waited for him. Unfortunately, I am a LONG haul from an emergency large animal clinic (about an hour and a half). About 35 minutes from a small animal emergency clinic (and I have used that one because we also have no in-county small animal emergency services). The problem with large animals - you can't always transport them when they are hurt/ill!

                      Next emergency was a friend's horse that lived at my place - and she and I both called him, he said he'd be right there, and he NEVER SHOWED UP. The new vet had just opened shop, and was there within 30 minutes. And she became my new vet on that day. She has another full time vet and a part time vet, and they rotate weekends so they are on call every 3rd weekend.

                      I do believe, when you go into vet care (or any medical care), you have to expect some kind of long hours - it isn't like working in an office, when there is an emergency, it can result in DEATH. It should be part of the admissions requirement - that you acknowledge you may be working nights and weekends.


                        I'm going to give extra thanks for my vet who still does evening and weekend calls, and who came every 6 hours for 2 days to give my mare IV fluids. ( I seem to have a horse that knows exactly when "emergency prices" kick in).

                        Wow, and I was perhaps taking her for granted.


                          1) We don't even have clinic veterinarians here, they are all solo over the road veterinarians, so you either reach them via phone or you do not. There is not even an office to relay messages.


                          2) the closest 24 hour clinic is a 2 hour drive on a good day - nevermind in January when it's sleet and freezing rain - in Vermont - ask me how I know...

                          I would be happy the closest one to you is 35 miles away
                          "If you think nobody cares about you, try missing a couple payments..."


                            My small animal vet is the only one in the area that I know that still does his own emergency work. He is 76 years old. They have 2 younger vets that rotate the on-call times.
                            All the other small animal vets refer to one of the 3 emergency vet clinics for after hours.
                            In our area the small animal and large animal vets are separate practices. Will some of the large animal vets give the farm cat their rabies shot, sure, but not much beyond that.
                            I can think of 1 practice that is both small & large animal. However the wife is the small animal vet, the husband is primarily the large animal and I know there is another large animal vet in the practice. I think he may work in the small animal clinic some but primary does large.

                            I am typing large animal when in reality most of the large animal practices are equine practices and are not doing cows/goats/pigs/llama/alpacas. Will they take a peek at a goat that happens to live at the horse farm? Probably. They are not delivering cows and going to cow farms or dairy goat farms.
                            Oh, well, clearly you're not thoroughly indoctrinated to COTH yet, because finger pointing and drawing conclusions are the cornerstones of this great online community. (Tidy Rabbit)


                              While I understand that being on call 24/7 is not a long-term sustainable lifestyle, I must say I'm surprised that there is nothing in place for some of you guys.

                              Some, if not many, state practice acts require that the DVM either be available or make provisions for emergency coverage for ongoing cases, where further treatment may become necessary.

                              In an equine context, I'd say that would mean not taking off for the weekend with an unresolved impaction colic or acute laminitis case left hanging, but it would be difficult to legislate that a DVM has the obligation to be available for anything that *might* happen after hours.

                              Back in the days when I was paying off student loans I did the occasional shift at a small animal emergency clinic that was established by a group of local SA practitioners so they could have lives, see their children occasionally, etc.

                              Some people bitched and moaned about not having Dr. So-and-So, their "regular" DVM at all hours, but most were just relieved to have 24/7 care available.

                              However, the LA end of the spectrum was on call 24/7 unless you had a colleague to swap off with, which, for a number of years, I did--we alternated weekends. Even so, it wears thin over time. You can't make real plans with friends, have a beer and relax, etc.

                              I 'm a bit surprised the SA model hasn't expanded more into the LA realm--the idea of having a dedicated emergency practice for off-hours stuff. I have heard of a few here and there, but not as a general thing.

                              For those of you chanting the "DVMs should realize that they can't expect to work normal hours" yes, believe it or not we *know* that. OTOH, you shouldn't expect that any human being can immerse themselves 24/7/365 in their profession without high burnout over time.

                              There's a reason that, as a profession, we have a high suicide rate.
                              "It's like a Russian nesting doll of train wrecks."--CaitlinandTheBay

                              ...just settin' on the Group W bench.


                                The small animal clinics here, too, refer to the after-hours emergency clinic. Which is fine.

                                My horse vet still responds to emergency calls, but I sometimes worry what will happen when he retires. Will I have to buy a gun and learn euth techniques for a after-5 emergency?

                                I always thought weekend issues is why vets worked together in a clinic. So if there are 3-4 vets, everyone gets a chance to be off. Hell, I frequently have to work nights/weekends for my job!


                                  SA vets around here don't work weekends, after hours, emergencies, and take the day off before the weekend holiday too.
                                  Learned that the hard way with a sick kitty over the fourth of July. Ended up going to the only emergency vet around - 40 miles away - and ended up euthanizing him.

                                  Lucky my horse vet & his partner do emergencies, after hours, etc., they rotate shifts and are available if you need them. Thank God.


                                    Well, I will come at this from a veterinarian stand point and practice owner. We looked into keeping our small animal hospital open for after hours emergencies. The cost of doing so was prohibitive in relation to the amount of calls we would see. It is very expensive to pay vets and techs evenings/ holiday hours, insurance costs, operation costs, etc. So we refer all our SA emergencies to three 24 hour hospitals within a 45 minute drive of our town. I suspect the practice to OP is referring most likely the vets were sick of being on call and were not financially compensated well enough to make it worth their time.

                                    Secondly, as a female I am NOT going to an unknown farm at night alone (when I did equine work eons ago, now I only do small animal). Just not doing it. I am also not even going to a farm at night of someone I know if they sketch me out. Just not happening. So that means there has to be tech available. I am also not going on an emergency call without a tech. I can't tell you how dangerous it can be to go to a farm with a horse owner that thinks they are knowledgeable, are afraid of their horse, are freaking out because of said emergency, etc. Men were much more willing to take these risks, I am not. My physical safety is my livelihood and I am not putting it at risk to work in an unsafe environment without proper help. Hence, I required a tech and now that means another person being on call.

                                    I did not take an oath to not have a life. I took an oath to become a veterinarian and for me to be an effective doctor means that I have good life-work balance. If not I am tired, I am burnt out, I am hating my job and most likely not treating your pet appropriately.

                                    I no longer give my cell phone out to "good clients". I have 100's of "good clients". If each of them only called me 1-2 times/ year that would mean I am on call at least 1/2 of my life in addition to my regular working schedule. And all that time on the phone is unpaid time. When I used to give out my cell to "good clients" I could easily spend 1-2 hours a night on the phone 4-5 nights a week. And most things weren't emergencies.

                                    When I moved I purposely chose an area that had access within one hour drive to 24 hour veterinary care (ie; for me a vet school hospital) so if my horse had colic, needed surgery, etc I had a place to go. I chose an area that has three very large equine practices (5+ vets) and developed relationships with all of them so I had options. I would not move to a veterinary waste land. I realize that might not be an option for some, but if one can chose and has horses that should be a major consideration for them.
                                    Read about my time at the Hannoveraner Verband Breeders Courses:


                                      I admit that I'm astounded by people complaining about emergency vets 35 miles away. Really? Two hours away, then I can sympathize. 35 miles is like literally in your backyard.


                                        Same thing is happening in people medicine. Physicians no longer want to do "call" so hospitals now have to hire "nocturnists" who handle calls in the evening at hospitals. And we wonder why America is in decline????? People do not want to work anymore.....

                                        We need some immigrants to become vets!!!