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Tucson veterinary hospital tries radical new program

Pet health is predicated on regular veterinary visits
Pet health is predicated on regular veterinary visitsPhoto by Gary Gershoff

Ventana Animal Hospital announced today that they have launched a bold new program to encourage pet owners to see their veterinarian more often. As has been mentioned here and elsewhere, declining veterinary visits are a nation-wide problem affecting pet health. As veterinary visits decline, preventable diseases are on the rise.

Today Ventana Animal Hospital, located in the Sabino Canyon area of North Tucson, announced through its blog and Facebook that pet owners who bring their pets in twice annually for veterinary visits will receive their core vaccines for free. This program is in marked contrast to the old style of vaccines first shot-clinic-style veterinary medicine.

Ronnie Hanley, Ventana's marketing coordinator believes that this is the first program of its kind in Tucson. "There are other wellness plans that take costs of veterinary care and either spread them over a year, or that are paid for up front," she states, "but, the costs are still there. We may still look into such plans in the future, namely for senior pets who need more blood screenings and the like, but this program is not like that. This program makes no effort to disguise or shift costs, it simply eliminates them. For clients that we see twice yearly, after the initial $29 fee, they pay for exams and whatever else is recommended, but core vaccines are given at no charge."

The goal, according to Ronnie, is to provide owners an incentive to have their pets seen twice yearly. "We asked clients about the biggest concern at our hospital, and one of the issues that clients mentioned was sticker shock at annual exams. We know that there is little that we can do about that. We are still going to continue to recommend care that will help keep our patients healthy, and costs are, unfortunately, a part of the conversation. We know from surveying clients that they would be happier if these costs were spread out. We think that we can do that with twice yearly exams. The free vaccines part is largely an incentive."

Containing costs while continuing to provide pet owners with the level of care that their pets deserve is an ongoing issue in veterinary medicine. The goal of all veterinary hospitals is to encourage pet owners to provide the costly care that their pets need in a manner that pet owners can afford. While vaccine costs make up a very small part of a veterinary visit (Ventana Animal Hospital currently charges $17.50 for a DA2PP and $19 for a rabies as an example), it all adds up.

Time will tell if this new program works as designed, but it does show that local veterinarians are hearing pet owners loud and clear - provide the services we need at costs that we can afford.

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