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8th November 2010 The Editor Veterinary Times Olympus House Werrington Centre Peterborough PE4 6NA Dear Editor, With regard to Sarah Heath’s passionate cry for vets to become dog salesmen, can I ask whether she’d like new sales supplied with or without the behavioural problems in which she specialises? There seems little point conditioning people to want dogs if they’re not going to generate a bit of business after all, as she has clearly already recognised: “We rely on the dog-owning ethos in many aspects of what we do. If people don’t own companion animals, companion animal practices cease to be needed.” In fact, can I also ask whether vets should be pushing multi-generational cross-breds or their much more lucrative multi-generational inbred relatives? I don’t actually know how much income the latter generates for the profession (I don’t think anybody does – see no evil, hear no evil and all that), but there can be no doubt that diseased monstrosities are much more lucrative than healthy mongrels and, thus, that all vets promoting the “dog-owning ethos” would do a much better job of supporting the veterinary gravy train if they focused more specifically on promoting the ‘functionallyretarded-dog-owning ethos’. To be fair, Bradley Viner already does: “I see a great deal of beauty, as well as utility, in many pedigree dog breeds and feel the world would be a poorer place without them", but whether he meant ‘veterinary profession’ rather than “world” in that sentence or not, he’s going to need a lot of help if Mrs Heath is right about plummeting levels of dog ownership. How are companion animal vets going to keep themselves busy without diseased patients for goodness sake? They need diseased patients! And fast, what with Alison Lambert currently advocating catabolic absorption of the staff structure to prop up profits: “If you can replace a vet with a nurse, your profits will go up.” No, every vet worth his quarterly profit margin needs to get out there and tell everybody about the benefits of, among other things, nuzzling brachycephalic monstrosities (as demonstrated in the article’s photographic content). Companion animal practices need a constant supply of dogs with surgical and medical conditions so grab your loudhailer and start spreading the word: “diseased gargoyles good, robust generics bad, anything better than nothing! Diseased gargoyles good, robust generics bad, your vet is dependent on you! Diseased gargoyles good, robust generics...” You could even push dog ownership using the ‘surrogate-child-owning-ethos’ if you want. I’m sure Nick Henderson wouldn’t object: "Pets have become surrogate children to thousands, possibly millions, around the world. We can give thanks that this is the case since, without such sentiments, small animal practice would be a quiet place indeed."

And what about chucking in a little (more) ‘ancient-cripple-owning-ethos’ as well? Something else to which Mr Henderson clearly wouldn’t object, not if his comments about the need to expand the specialised exploitation of this particular revenue source are anything to go by: “Does the RCVS have a certificate in geriatric medicine? If not, why not?” Indeed, why stop there? Why stop at inbred gargoyles, fake children and dead dogs walking when there are all sorts of other lucrative pet-ownership bubbles to inflate? How many homes are parrotless for example, or mini-pigless? Loads I tell you! Loads! And I’m pretty sure there are a few fashionable South American rodents and camelids left in South America that could be recruited to the cause as well (via the ‘chinchilladegu-alpaca-llama -owning-ethos’). Come on people: there are all sorts of ‘potentiallyprofitable-animal-owning-ethi’ (ethoi? ethos’s?) to impregnate the public with. Your practices aren’t going to grow themselves you know! It’s a dog eat dog world out there and the more dogs/cats/rodents/snakes/lizards/fish/birds/mini-mammals etc. you can generate to profitably exploit, I mean selflessly look after, the better. Yours faithfully,

Matthew “no middle name” Watkinson

A letter regarding the relationship between dog numbers and veterinary profits  

A letter to the Veterinary Times regarding a call for vets to actively promote dog ownership to support patient numbers and thus profits.

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