Hey Everyone!! :-)
Here's the next installment of An Animal Rescuer’s Guide to Staying (Relatively) Sane. Here I continue to talk about resources needed by those who do animal rescue. Specifically, I discuss the indispensable veterinarian.
The kitty pictured above is Longstreet. Yes, Longstreet, like the Civil War general. When he adopted me I was living with my ex-boyfriend who was a Civil War buff. Longstreet's three siblings were dubbed Grant, Sherman, and Lee.
Longstreet was one of the first kitties who found me as a young adult when I first moved out of my parents house. He and his family appeared one day under the apartment I was living in. It wasn't long before they got sick and I quickly learned that one of the most important resources one needs to rescue animals is a good veterinarian. You can read more about my thoughts on veterinarians below.
Finding the right veterinarian is extremely important. As a rescuer, you will be spending a lot of time and money with this person; so being able to form a good working relationship is essential. Unfortunately, I have not been able to find any kind of centralized resource to find information about vets so finding a good vet will involve some leg-work. You will need to find someone who is not only technically competent, but who also understands what you are doing and respects your work. There are more than a few vets who do not like rescuers (don’t ask me why, I don’t know), or do not understand and respect the work that a rescuer does. You want to avoid these vets because they will not be willing to do what you need them to do. You need a vet who will explain illnesses and treatment options to you, and who will not condescend every time you ask for clarification of technical jargon (which you will learn in time and with experience). You need a vet who is willing to sell you the medications they prescribe in bulk, or who is willing to give you a written prescription that you can use to obtain the medications from a less expensive source. You need a vet that is willing to show you how to do simple things at home so that you do not have to bring your rescues to the vet as often. These things will vary depending on what type of animals you are rescuing, but will generally include giving vaccinations, administering sub-cutaneous fluid, administering injectable medications, restraint techniques, and general first aid. If the vet is not willing to instruct you in these methods, or they balk if you tell them you are already familiar with them, you need to find another vet. Animal rescue is hard enough without having to fight with a doctor every time you have a sick or injured animal.
You also need to find someone who is willing to cut you a break in pricing every now and again, and not charge you for every tiny thing they can find. This is where finding an understanding vet becomes important. Unless you are Bill Gates, you won’t be able to continue rescuing for very long if your vet nickels and dimes you to death. A vet needs to charge for their services and supplies in order to stay in business, and it is important for you to be understanding of this, but some vets will understand that you are trying to do a good thing and will cut you a deal where possible. These are the vets you need to find.
When you find this vet make them your best friend. Send them cards on their birthdays and at Christmas (if they celebrate), give them thank you notes, thank them often and repeatedly and tell them how much you appreciate them. Vets are human, a little gratitude and appreciation goes a long way. Whatever you do, don't alienate these vets. Good vets are like gold, they are very rare and very precious. Do not give them bad checks, give them a hard time about paying what you owe, bad mouth other vets, blame them when they can’t save an animal (they’re doctors not gods, sometimes there is nothing that can be done), give them an attitude, or be rude to them in any other way. You will be shooting yourself in the foot and it is unlikely you will be able to get another decent vet to see you; they talk to each other, you know.
If you are rescuing large or exotic animals you will need to find more than one vet; if your vet goes on vacation or gets sick then finding an alternate vet in a pinch may not be easy. You need to have one on standby in case of an emergency. Also, if your vet does not provide after-hours services you need to find an emergency vet, regardless of the type of animals you are rescuing. Animals are not always courteous enough to only get sick or injured between the hours of 9am-5pm, Monday through Friday. How do you go about finding these vets? The best way is through word of mouth. Ask your friends, neighbors, coworkers, etc. about their vets. If someone you trust recommends a vet then take one of your animals there for a well-visit (a routine checkup, or the like) and talk to the vet and see what you think. Another really great source for finding a vet brings us to your next important resource.