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Quarantine Chronicles: An Anonymous Vet Tech
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THIS Quarantine Chronicle was provided to us by a veterinary technician at an area veterinary clinic who wished to remain anonymous.

What are you experiencing right now?

It’s so weird, because I feel like on one hand, I’m lucky to be working right now. I see so many of my friends on social media who don’t know how they’re going to make it next month, don’t even have enough to pay their rent [for April], much less in May. Most people are getting furloughed with no return date.

I feel on one hand lucky, but on the other, I’m really anxious about just being out around everybody. I have to go to work. I do have a choice, my employers were nice enough to say, “If you guys don’t feel like working through this, we completely understand. We’re not going to fire you, but you will not be getting paid and we will not be giving you any sick days.”

So you’re sort of forced into a corner there.

Right. People are afraid to do that, even if you’re given that option.

I will say it’s so weird because we’re dealing with people’s babies, their animals, and they’re not bringing in animals unless it’s super important. And the abuse factor has been turned all the way up to 10. We are getting so much abuse from clients.

Abuse of animals?!

No, of us. Not the animals! Their worry factor has been turned all the way up, they’re bringing their babies in for something that’s important. They’re very worried. And they’re like, “Well, I can’t afford this right now. What are you going to do?” Like, I can’t. There’s a lot of abuse there because of the affordability. We’ve seen a spike in euthanasias for the inability to pay for services.

I don’t think the abuse is purposeful. I think it’s out of guilt. I think these people are going through the stages of guilt right in front of us, which is anger at first. And [they’re asking] what are we going to do to make their lives easier, because they can’t afford it right now? Why can’t we give them a discount or put them on a payment plan?

And some people have left, so now it’s almost like half the amount of people doing the same amount of work.

You have people that are completely understanding, and then you have people that are coming in that aren’t wearing a mask and don’t care about your personal space. I had this guy touch me a total of five times and I finally was just like, “Sir.” And that’s when we made the decision to just do curbside. People have to stay in their cars, so they can’t come in.

“Well, this is my baby.” I understand. This is my safety.

I’m interested in the fact that you’re seeing an increase in euthanasia because of inability to pay for services, and I’d love for you to elaborate on that a little.

If it’s an emergency procedure, those things can run upward of $2,000 or $3,000, sometimes even $4,000 depending on the issue. A lot of people just don’t have that money right now. Emergencies are expensive and a lot of people don’t understand that in veterinary medicine, nine times out of 10, we’re using the same stuff as human medicine. Catheters, IVs, it’s all the same stuff.

Animals actually have a higher metabolism, so they actually take about the same amount of medication for emergency care that people do. So people are like, “I don’t understand why it’s so expensive.” I would love to take a side-by-side sheet of what the human cost of an X-ray is. A human X-ray is like $600. I’m charging you $100 for an X-ray. But a lot of times, if it’s am internal issue, you’ll need three X-rays, so that’s $300.

But on the other side of that, just because you can’t afford $1,000 for your animal doesn’t mean you shouldn’t have one. It just means you have to be more realistic about what you can and can’t do, and realize that when you adopted an animal, that was solely your responsibility.

There are instances where the vet will make an exception for people that have been loyal; they’ve brought all of their animals to them for like ten years, they always pay their bills on time, they’ll make exceptions for that. But if it’s new clients, I don’t know you.

It’s not just tough for people right now; it’s tough for businesses, too. Especially an essential job. These people are like, “Yeah, give me all the hours you can right now,” so they’re having to pay people even more than they were before.

A lot of people aren’t coming in for regular things. They’re only coming in for emergency care.

Does that mean business has gone down for you?

Yes. Even though we’re considered an essential business, it’s because it’s a medical business, you still have to be open for stuff. There are some vets in the area that are only seeing people for emergencies. All unnecessary stuff like yearlies and vaccines, they’re putting them off so they’re not putting their staff at risk.

All the PPE is going to real hospitals, so there’s a lot of vet offices that don’t have the PPE they need, but they’re still exposed to people. It’s almost even dirtier and you’re more exposed at a vet’s office because people are always kissing and loving on their babies, and then they go, “Here ya go! Here’s my possibly COVID-19-covered dog, take care of it, thanks.”

What would you want people to know and be aware of?

Remember, if you’re going in to your veterinarian, these are still people and you still need to treat them with respect. Just because it’s not a hospital doesn’t mean that you don’t still need to protect yourself and protect others, just because it’s a dog hospital or a cat hospital.

There are so many people that just don’t care about … “Well, I can’t come in?” No. I’m trying to protect myself from you, and also you from everybody else that would’ve been in here.

Don’t get me wrong, there are some people who are like, “Thank God you’re open, thank you so much for being here.” But that doesn’t weigh on you when you get home.