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Bringing dogs into the health care debate

drdogA British physician, writing in the Wall Street Journal, says, all in all, dogs may be privy to a better health care system than humans — at least in his part of the world.

“In the last few years, I have had the opportunity to compare the human and veterinary health services of Great Britain, and on the whole it is better to be a dog,”  Theodore Dalrymple, a pen name for British physician Anthony Daniels.

“As a British dog, you get to choose (through an intermediary, I admit) your veterinarian. If you don’t like him, you can pick up your leash and go elsewhere, that very day if necessary. Any vet will see you straight away, there is no delay in such investigations as you may need, and treatment is immediate. There are no waiting lists for dogs, no operations postponed because something more important has come up, no appalling stories of dogs being made to wait for years because other dogs — or hamsters — come first.

“The conditions in which you receive your treatment are much more pleasant than British humans have to endure. For one thing, there is no bureaucracy to be negotiated with the skill of a white-water canoeist; above all, the atmosphere is different … In the waiting rooms, a perfect calm reigns; the patients’ relatives are not on the verge of hysteria, and do not suspect that the system is cheating their loved one, for economic reasons, of the treatment which he needs. The relatives are united by their concern for the welfare of each other’s loved one. They are not terrified that someone is getting more out of the system than they.”

The only drawback to the superior care British dogs receive is they, or their owners, generally have to pay for it.

Still, even for those dogs, and owners, without means, there is the People’s Dispensary for Sick Animals, or PDSA, which serves as a safety net, providing free veterinary services for the poor.

The PDSA, he says, more closely resembles the National Health Service for British humans. “There is no denying that the PDSA is not as pleasant as private veterinary services; but even the most ferocious opponents of the National Health Service have not alleged that it fails to be better than nothing.”

The rest of other comparisons and conclusions can be found here.


Comment from Miss Jan
Time August 10, 2009 at 11:35 am

Oh good grief what this is going to do is just add grist for the mill of those who would like the health insurance status quo to remain just that in this country. Not enough that Big Ins hires PR to disrupt town hall meetings, spreads disinformation about other countries’ health care systems, and generally disses anyone who doesn’t like our current health insurance system. Frankly I would DISmiss anything this Brit says as a whole lotta sour grapes! My stepdaughter is an American who married a Brit and has lived in London for the last 18 years and in comparing the two systems she says ANYTHING in Great Britain, Canada and Europe is far, far better for people than anything here.

And don’t get me started on the veterinary system in the US which adds up to little else but CHARGE WHAT THE TRAFFIC WILL BEAR and don’t try to sue for incompetence!

Comment from Eighteenpaws
Time August 10, 2009 at 5:57 pm

When I moved to MD 3 years ago, I discovered something here that was rare if not invisible in my home state Michigan — the “mobile vet.” (And you have written about this in the past.) There are several here who service the city and every county. As a person with multiple, large dogs, the yearly task of hauling to a vet office was emotionally and physically taxing, not to mention wildly expensive. I have found a WONDERFUL mobile vet who not only gives my dogs thorough and considerate annual exams and vaccinations while they rest in their own doggie beds, but also this has slashed my vet bills by easily over 50%. The hospital and office overhead are just gone. Plus, my regular monthly meds like heartworm and flea prevention can be purchased, via my vet’s Rx, on any internet site at fiercely competitive prices. People with pets/lifestyles like mine and on tight budgets really ought to explore this option. A few years ago I worked part-time at a vet’s office. The greater the influx of people buying and using “vet insurance,” the more the hospital jacked up rates to accommodate the associated adminstrative activities. Pet ownership should never have to lead to either veterinary negligence nor poverty!