Euthanasia: Hard times call for hard decisions
As the recession widens, the decision to treat or euthanize is coming earlier, DVMs say.
On average, veterinarians report most of their clients will refuse or stop treatment for their pets at $1,407, according to an exclusive DVM Newsmagazine survey (see story on p.18 for past comparison, other findings).But that amount varies widely from region to region — from $100 to $1,700-plus.
In the Midwest, arguably the hardest hit economically, veterinarians report clients stop treatment on average at $1,175. In the Southeast, the number is $1,383. In the Southwest, it's about $1,460, while veterinarians in the Northeast report the highest stop-treatment point, about $1,747.
Gary Holfinger, of the East Suburban Animal Clinic in Northwood, Ohio (near the state's northwest corner), says his clinic definitely sees the effects of the brutal economy.
"Unemployment is high in our area of Ohio, Michigan and Indiana," he says. "Whether people have the cash flow now or not, they are trying to hold on to what they have because they think things are going to worsen."
While Holfinger sees the stop-treatment point at $700 to $800 at his clinic, it's been consistent, despite the economy.
What has taken a more drastic hit is diagnostic procedures.
"We're not doing as many work-ups, and more empirical treatment is becoming the norm."
"We see such a variety of lifestyles and incomes here," Hicks says. "We do have clients, especially right now in this economy, who stop sooner. And we have clients who say do anything necessary."