Since Tails is committed to a healthier lifestyle and awareness for our pets and us, I wanted to devote some thought toward that same idea. Of course, my perspective is from that of a veterinarian finally hanging out my own shingle after having worked in over seventy-five hospitals over the past 14 years. I can’t claim to have seen it all in the way of the inner workings of every animal establishment out there. But I can claim to have seen a good cross section of veterinary goings-on in neighborhoods and communities all over the Chicago metro region, and beyond. I can also claim to possess a seasoned perspective – albeit from one niche among many – of not just the veterinary medical field, but of those businesses, services, manufacturers and organizations that make up the entire pet-oriented world inside our local and national borders. Suffice it to say, there are a growing number of people and entities out there collectively contributing toward the enjoyment, happiness, worries, and sadness that each person experiences at different times with his or her pets. Most of us who are providers of all-things-pet happen to also be consumers, and like everyone else, we tend more and more to be very sensitive, selective and expressive about how we manage our efforts, spend our hard-earned dollars, and rant or rave to others about our experiences, both good and bad. Like it or not, we also all live in a web of electrified inter-connectivity permeating every aspect of our personal and professional lives. We all intermittently or constantly volunteer our stories, are asked to respond with our preferences, or proclaim our disapproval and demand our satisfaction. As consumers, this is easy enough. As providers, though, we’re more on the receiving end. We provide the product or service, and you get to respond to us or to your circle of friends or colleagues, or even to the entire world by way of a few key strokes and a click on the button “submit”. So how does this all relate back to that idea of healthy living and awareness that I spoke of initially? In all the complexity of our present daily life experiences, there is an absolute simplicity that is clear as day. This clarity is so simple, it can be summed up in one word. That word is “responsibility”. And while people could spend a month of Sundays debating the definitions and directions of responsibility, I would beg to differ when it comes to the animals who share our lives.
You see, responsibility in relation to caring for animals doesn’t leave room for anything but doing the right thing for the animals. It means that responsible, animal-centric service providers and businesses should offer only services they’re qualified to offer, manufacturers should deliver only products true to their representations and meeting expected and established standards, and chartered organizations must declare their purpose, live up to those declarations, and carry out their charters with good intent and without ulterior motives. On the other hand, the burden of responsibility for the consumer (and federal, state, and local institutions) lies in patronizing, (licensing) and rewarding those worthy providers, while giving useful feedback with responsible fairness about those providers that fail in their overall effort.
Not every business deserves the top praise of their community if they’re not putting in the effort, just as not every pet owner will be the consistently responsible guardian of their pets that they’d love to be. But an honestly sincere and educated effort should still garner some support and recognition, and the opposite, as well. It’s all about fairness when it comes to feedback, and if we stick to a practice of behaving responsibly, and reflecting with fairness, then there is enough collective awareness around us to provide helpful feedback for everyone. In our most critically important mission for the animals, we have to take an active role. We can’t claim to be there for them, but not take our jobs seriously.
Bruce E. Silverman, VMD MBA
Village West Veterinary