Monday, September 28, 2009

Holiday boarding and your pets' veterinary records

Had a nasty experience a couple of weeks ago (much worse for the owner of the dog concerned) which was really no-one's fault but could have been mitigated by preparation.

One of the clients who use our clinic was given the opportunity of a holiday away as a present from a relative. The relative also arranged, and paid for her dogs to be boarded at a commercial kennels. The kennels took notes of their normal vet (our clinic) and checked that their vaccinations were current, but didn't keep the vaccination cards or photocopy them.

Unfortunately, just before the end of their holiday, one of the dogs was taken violently ill and needed emergency treatment. Because of being outside normal hours he had to go via our emergency route, which normally requires the owner to show either their clinic registration card or their clinic vaccination card, neither of which the kennels had. The difficulty was compounded by the fact that the kennels knew the dogs by the surname of the relative who paid for their boarding, while of course all their medical records were under their owner's name.

The emergency service isn't owned by the RSPCA; we pay them a fee to cover out of hours treatment of animals who are registered at the Cambridge clinic, so they wouldn't normally see animals with (apparently) no computer entry and no registration cards. In the event, the kennels managed to contact the owner by phone and it was sorted out, but the worry must pretty much have ruined her holiday.

In these days, when out of hours cover is often provided by a different surgery from the one your pet normally visits, this sort of problem potentially might apply to anyone - the only added complication in this case was whether the dog was eligible to use care that we subsidise. If you're planning on leaving your pets in kennels, check with your vet and with the kennels what would happen if one of them was suddenly taken ill. Make sure the kennels know what name the animals are registered under at your vet, and check payment options (e.g. will the kennels pay and claim it back from you or will your vet invoice you?). If possible leave a mobile number on which you can be contacted (and if needed make a credit card payment for your pet's treatment.)

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