Inside AAHA April 2023

AAHA President-elect Mark Thompson DVM, MBA, CCRP, shares how he learned that vets are people helping pets, but also people. AAHA Community asks: Do you charge for online prescription requests?

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We Are People Helping People Helping Pets

In my career, there have been many moments that brought clarity to what being a veterinarian truly means. These moments helped change my vision and outlook of how to approach each day. One such moment happened early in my career where I realized that we don’t just help pets, we help people help pets. This first such moment came in the form of a sweet little dog named Benji. Benji was having extreme abdominal pain that came on very suddenly. His owner, Bill, was a soft spoken, kind, elderly man that I had known for a few years.

My team and I quickly got to work and diagnosed poor little Benji with acute necrotizing pancreatitis. While these cases are difficult to treat and carry a poor prognosis, Bill was willing to do whatever he could for Benji.

We tried everything we could to treat Benji: IV fluids, pain meds, plasma therapy, laser therapy, and a lot of supportive care. After three days, Benji was only mildly improved. I spoke with Bill, and he knew Benji was suffering without an end in sight. Bill said to me “I think we will have to put him down, but not today. Let’s give the little guy one more day.” The next day came, and Bill said the same “I think we need to put him down, but let’s give the little guy one more day.” This continued for about a week with two steps forward and two steps backward in Benji’s condition. I knew Bill was pretty attached and was trying to be strong. In addition, everyone on staff dreaded the day that would be tomorrow. Benji was so close to the end it was hard to watch.

Those days passed very slowly; however, just as suddenly as it started, one day Benji turned a corner. Throughout this long hospitalization, there were days when Benji would just lay on his side without having the strength to lift his head. However, that day it was as if a switch turned on and life was restored. Two days later we discharged Benji. Bill was delighted. It was a win that we all wanted and needed. Benji went on to a miraculous recovery. However, the story does not end there.

About a year later, Bill was not feeling well enough to travel so his daughter brought in Benji for his routine care. While going over Benji’s physical with her, I mentioned what a miraculous dog Benji was and how he came back to life for us. Bill’s daughter said to me that the kindness and willingness to help Bill and Benji meant the world to their entire family. What we did not know is that Bill’s wife had passed away a few weeks before Benji got sick. Bill did not share this information with us, but a lot of things became clearer. Benji was more than just a dog.

The clarity that comes with this story is that life is complicated. I try not to lose hope when things get tough and treat every patient as if they are as important to their family as Benji was to Bill. In this profession, we really are people helping people helping pets.

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Mark Thompson DVM, MBA, CCRP, is president-elect of AAHA. Thompson is owner and hospital director of Country Hills Pet Hospital, the 2018 AAHA-Accredited Practice of the Year winner.

This month in AAHA’s Publicity Toolbox . . .

Here are the downloadable social media images available for AAHA-accredited members at aaha.org/publicity this month:

  • Pet First Aid Awareness Month
  • Heartworm Awareness Month
  • Prevention on Lyme Disease in Dogs Month
  • April 16: International Guide Dog Day
  • April 22: Earth Day

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Charging for online prescription requests

Q: How is everyone handling online prescription requests? No charge? Charge? Only write prescriptions? Other?

A: We just switched over to only using our OLP, pick up at the clinic, or pick up written script…

A: We currently use an online pharmacy. We refer clients to order on there if it’s something we don’t have in house…

A: We don’t charge and never have…

AAHA members: Log in to see the full discussion at community.aaha.org. For help, email community@aaha.org.


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