"Very smelly flow of
blood and pus from the below for over 2 weeks," the man in
his late 30s told me. "I sent it to my vet (Vet 1) I trust,
but he did not want to operate. He referred me to XXX (a
brand-name vet surgery) but the vet fees would cost me more
--- two thousand dollars. So, I checked out the internet and
came to you."
The 9-year-old dog was no longer able to stand as there was
at least 2 weeks of delay and the dog was not eating. Blood
tests showed kidney disorder as well as high white cell
"How much is your operation fee?" the father asked me as I
reviewed the dog's case with him and his son.
"$500," I do give discount to pet owners who are in need of
lower vet fees for a pyometra surgery. Usually it would be
nearer to $800 for the anaesthesia and surgery, excluding IV
drips, medication and hospitalisation. There is no means
testing in Singapore but this case appears to have been
delayed considerably due to financial reasons.
"Can you reduce it?" the father asked me.
"It is as low as I can give to you," I replied. "This is not
the normal cost. It would be around $800 - $1,000."
"However, you must know that the dog has around 40% chances
of survival since she is very ill due to delays in seeking
veterinary surgery." I had to be frank with the owners.
As I am responsible for the reputation Toa Payoh Vets, it is
my duty to make sure that my associate vet handling this
case do provide this risk assessment to the owner and not
just to operate. If the dog dies, the owner will still be
angry as he has to pay the bills when the outcome is not
good. So I told my associate vet that I had given the 40%
chances of survival to the owner and that the owner must be
Any other options? I did not suggest euthanasia. The father
said: "Since it is not 50:50, I will want the dog to be put
If the dog had been operated 2 weeks ago by Vet 1, the
chances of survival are very good. Unfortunately, the family
vet did not want to operate on big dogs. I know Vet 1 always
refers difficult cases to a brand-name veterinary surgery as
a routine over the past century, without considering that
his clients may not be able to afford the "Mount Elizabeth
Hospital" type of fees. So some of his clients seek other
Vets must understand their clients' financial situation and
do what is good for them and their pets. A dog's life that
could be saved was lost due to Vet 1's one-track mind to
refer all cases to this brand-name veterinary surgery, on
the erroneous assumption that he or she would not lose their
clients as this brand-name surgery would not poach his
In my opinion, once you refer to other vets, it is likely
that you lose your client. Maybe, the client can't afford
the brand-name veterinary surgery the second time and so you
presume the client will return to you.
Why not find out what is the financial situation of your
client, network with some vets who can perform the surgery
competently but at "affordable" cost, get the quotations for
your client. In this way, your service will be considered
excellent. You will gain the gratitude and retain the
loyalty of the client who has had used your services for
many years? It is most likely your client will come back to
you as he has had been doing for years.