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"It is distressing for me to hear that our suicide rate is climbing so significantly," Lefkowitz says. "Most veterinarians I know are kind, extremely hard-working people, who have sacrificed a huge amount in order to be in a position to help animals and their owners."
Lefkowitz has addressed this growing issue in her bestselling, non-fiction book"Bite Me: Tell-All Tales of an Emergency Veterinarian." The book was written "so that the public could have a more realistic understanding of the daily stresses veterinarians experience," Lefkowitz explains. "It is a high-stress, emotional environment that is the root cause of the suicide rate." Financial factors, such as pet owners' choices to euthanize pets, when medically the pets could be saved, is an example of the emotional burden placed upon the veterinarian who must comply with pet owners' wishes. Other causes of the high suicide rate includes excessive education debts, long hours, unreasonable expectations of medical outcomes from owners, verbal abuse from clients, and an unrealistic expectation that family veterinarians should be available to them on evenings, weekends and holidays.
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Lefkowitz offers some suggestions to pet owners:
• If you are unable to afford the recommended treatment do not become angry at your veterinarian for not providing the service at a lower price, and do not blame your veterinarian for the outcome. If they could continue to keep their business open and treat every animal at no cost, most veterinarians would.
• Cyberbullying is a real issue in the veterinary world. Not every medical condition is treatable and some conditions require long-term care. Death or failure to respond to medical treatments are not the same as malpractice or neglect. Think carefully before blaming your veterinarian and writing a scathing review.
• Prepare for future medical problems in your pet by carrying pet insurance, or by obtaining credit through companies such as Care Credit that offer coverage for people as well as their pets. Veterinarians high debt-load from their credentialing, and limited income capacity––half that of physicians––limits their ability to offer in-house payment plans.
• Be respectful of your veterinarians time. Do not expect access to your veterinarian 24/7. If your pet becomes sick in the evening commit yourself to traveling to the nearest emergency hospital for care rather than expecting your family vet to treat it after hours. If you have a veterinarian who is your neighbor or an acquaintance, do not inundate them for advice outside of their work place; too many people do this.
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• Be cognizant that the cost of medical supplies and the drugs that veterinarians stock in their hospitals are similar to the prices in human medicine. The prices they charge are reflections of the costs that they incur. Veterinarians do not enter the profession to become wealthy.
With over sixty percent of Americans owning pets, and over $61 billion dollars spent on pets each year, the issue of veterinary suicide is not one that can be swept away and should be addressed.
"Bite Me: Tell-All Tales of an Emergency Veterinarian" By Laura C Lefkowitz ISBN:978-0692602348, is available in print and digital book formats through Amazon and most major book sellers. https://amzn.to/2Wl6goA
Learn more at www.BiteMeVet.com
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