Vet Business

Challenges? What are you doing about them?

One things that really upsets me are issues that progress beyond our control due to apathy and myopia. The recent Gulf Oil Spill is an example. It annoyed me to no end that apparent cost cutting and the lure of quick profit was so disruptive to a natural and shared ecosystem. A more recent example is the sad state of the equine health industry and the looming decline of the equine sector as a whole in the province of Ontario. This may be old news to my friends in the USA but it is spreading fast on my home turf. We are faced with lay dentists, trainers injecting their own joints, pirated medications, commodification of vet services, declining interest in horse racing, indifference of our governing body to infractions of their own rules, and only12 horses entered for a $50,000 jumping Grand Prix, it is obvious we are facing some challenges. How does a trained veterinarian compete against a solo lay dentist who charges $30 for a poor quality hand float? As a side note this is illegal in the province of Ontario, not that this prevents anything. There is a race horse trainer who travels around injecting joints on both race and non-race horses- he actually hands out business cards advertising his services. He is responsible for the deaths of several horses through post-injection septic joints. Representatives from the larger pharmaceutical companies have suggested that they have not developed and released some needed equine drugs because a  pirated product is guaranteed to show up soon afterwards. Historically our only shopped item were call fees and vaccines, but now more and more clients are comparing our dentistry and lameness exam fees. Not all procedures are performed equally but our clients no longer seem to appreciate this. Ontario has a large racing industry. One only has to look at the situation in New Jersey to know that state and provincial governments are reviewing the subsidizing of this industry.  Many local vets have called our governing bodies about the infractions we see that threaten the health of horses only to be met with bureaucratic excuses. Finally, horse shows are struggling to get adequate entry numbers in their big sponsored classes. Whew. What to do? We could be reactive like so may state vet organizations, but this is closing the door once the horse has left the barn. Unlike the oil spill, this is something I believe we can have some positive influence on.  Here’s how.

Last week our veterinary practice hosted a dinner for our referral vets and suppliers. It was a way for us to thank them and show our appreciation for years of support. The welcoming remarks from my wife (and business partner) touched upon the challenges and the potential opportunities in our industry. We admitted that if our vet practice raised these issues that we would be thought of as self-serving. Instead we proposed that prominent industry stakeholders begin talking and identifying our challenges. Afterwards we can look for opportunities to influence the industry and work towards creating a future that is beneficial to stakeholders, horses, and horse owners. It is in the best interest of all involved to have a healthy equine population in Ontario, Canada and North America. Together we have influence. Subsequent to this meeting we have planned an initial round table forum to follow the AAEP convention. As we move forwards I will post blogs to update you on our progress.

I don’t want to be one of those people who recognize the challenges but do nothing about them. Then in a few years we can congratulate ourselves that we were indeed right- the industry did go down the tubes. Why not do something about in advance? We are always promoting preventative health to our clients. Why not do some ourselves?

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