High cost of veterinary care at major chains causing pets to be unnecessarily euthanised, senior vets say

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Senior veterinarians say it is cheaper for some pet owners to travel interstate for their pet's surgery than attend major vet chains and referral hospitals who charge high fees.
Senior veterinarians say it is cheaper for some pet owners to travel interstate for their pet's surgery than attend major vet chains and referral hospitals who charge high fees and, in some cases, offer staff commission for invoicing additional services.

Key points: Some senior vets say overcharging in after-hours centres is common practice

Some senior vets say overcharging in after-hours centres is common practice The Australian Veterinary Association said compared to human medicine the variability in vet fees was "very apparent to the consumer" due to a lack of government subsidisation

The Australian Veterinary Association said compared to human medicine the variability in vet fees was "very apparent to the consumer" due to a lack of government subsidisation Many retiring vets are opting to sell their practices to bigger vet chains

Brisbane-based vet Scot Plummer said the rise of veterinary chains and the shift from all-purpose vets to a focus on referrals and specialisation had changed the structure of the industry and the cost of modern pet care was causing animals to be unnecessarily put down.

"The whole underlying issue is we euthanase animals purely because of cost," Dr Plummer said.

"There's no Medicare for pets — you pay, or they die. And if demand is there you can keep pushing prices because no-one is pushing back, it's only going to go one way."

Dr Plummer and his business partner Damien MacGinley — who have 53 years of industry experience between them — said some clients had travelled from as far away as Darwin and the New South Wales southern highlands to visit their clinic because it was cheaper than attending one of the major chains, despite the added cost of interstate travel.

Dan Blackwell said he travelled from southern NSW with his dog Angel to Dr Plummer's clinic when he was faced with a surgery bill between $5,000 and $8,000.

He said there was "no real guarantee that [the surgery] wasn't going to have complications and be more…
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