Recently I read an article by a rural DVM entitled “Before you Call the Vet.” In the interest of expanding on his suggestions, I will try to clear up and remove any confusion you might have.
Suggestion #1 -“If you have no intention of paying for your vet’s services, do not call.”
On the surface, this seems self-explanatory. But to be more specific it definitely includes the spotted owl that flew into your picture window, the neighbor’s dog you hit with the truck trying to drive him off your sheep and the National Park buffalo that was wounded by a deer hunter in your backyard.
Suggestion #2 - “Do not call your veterinarian if what you want is illegal.”
Say you have been quarantined by the State or Federal Livestock Department for Brucellosis, tuberculosis, B.S.E., scabies, having poor facilities, or misplacing your last veterinary bill, you may be thinking of asking your vet to fudge the test results. A simple little thing, no one would know, you’d tip him 50 or 60 bucks, maybe promise to give him the hide off your next slipped calf. And, although the offer of the hide sounds tempting, don’t bother. When veterinarians take their state boards, they have to promise to be honest.
Suggestion #3 - “Always capture and identify the animal in question before calling the doctor.”
Capture means in something smaller than 40 acres. "She’s the one over by that scrub oak, Doc. The one just left of the red cow, or is that the mule? Anyway, she’s the solid black one, no, wait a minute … Phil, which cow did you say had the lump on her jaw?"
Suggestion #4 - “Avoid blanket treatments – not all downer cows have milk fever, not all lame cows have footrot.”
No amount of calcium/dextrose solution I.V. will cause a cow that has been hit by a feed truck, to stand and walk away! And no formaldehyde footbath or tetracycline injection will cure the steer that limps till you pull the nail out of his hoof.
The doctor’s article included many more useful tips on how to better use your rural veterinarian, but it all boils down to this: Take care of your local vet. Treat him like visiting royalty. Pay him like you do your bookie. Remember his (or her) birthday, share your pheasant, quail, sweet corn, homemade cookies or 4-H pig sausage. And it’s always nice to offer to co-sign his note for his house, his car or his bass boat. Because remember, he can always desert you for a comfortable cat and dog practice in someplace like Orlando or Cabo San Lucas!