20/20 in Hindsight

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by Bash Halow, CVPM, LVT

There are only four of us in our tiny company, Brenda, Tiffany, Melinda and me.  Collectively we spend more than one hundred hours a week working with dozens of veterinarians and veterinary professionals, all of whom are driven firstly by their interest in earnestly helping animals and their human companions.  So, it’s especially infuriating to watch ABC’s sensationalized, polarizing and paper-thin would-be exposé on the veterinary industry, Is Your Veterinarian Being Honest With You.


Watch the clip online and the first thing you’ll be treated to is an ad for Chase Bank.  Consider the irony for a moment.  We’re about to watch a story by some ‘trusted’, fraud, guard dog and the person paying the bill is Chase Bank! Remember them?  That’s the company that agreed to pay 389 million dollars for credit card fraud.  They’re the ones who were found to have violated both banking and securities laws and settled the violation for 920 million dollars! So by all means, ABC, treat me to a story by one, out-of-work veterinarian on the purported upselling techniques of veterinary practices. Lay it on me!  Maybe afterwards we could have an Exxon-sponsored discussion on the harmful environmental effects of dairy farming.


And don’t forget to creatively edit the remarks by Dr. Marty Becker and the American Animal Hospital Association who…yeah, let me get this straight…are going to come out on national television and bad mouth their own industry. Right.


This is not a news story; it’s a news spin and probably the most shameful, irresponsible part is that the producers began with the title and the outline then secondarily went in search of the spurious facts to support it.


If anything good can come of this willfully deceptive, cheap grab at viewer ratings, it’s this:  it may be the seminal moment when our state and national associations pull together and create a media juggernaut in their own right; when they broaden their focus to include a direct relationship with pet owners and teach the pet owning public about the value of veterinary professionals in their pets’ lives; when they assist the industry as a whole with online visibility and credibility; and when they help all of us to better demonstrate, communicate and market our genuine care and dedication.


Fellow veterinary professionals, you are not this story, but let it remind you of the power of digital and national media to communicate an idea, however untrue.  For an industry that has been traditionally timorous about talking itself up, the time has come to work collectively to give a global voice to our laudable stewardship of the animal-human bond. There are very few people in our world that invest the kind of time, emotions and heart in their jobs as we do. That’s the story that 20-20 should have told and now it seems its up to us to do it for them.

You can read other responses to ABC’s story at these links: Brenda’s blog and PetEd’s website