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Find Out The Best Bets For Choosing Vets For Your Pets

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RALEIGH — You would not take your child to just any doctor, so why would you take your best friend to just any veterinarian. When it comes time to find a doctor for Fido or Fluffy, you should be armed with some questions.

Kathe Garrison knew exactly what she wanted for her dogs, Lillie and Oliver. She wanted the best possible care for them.

"I want a veterinarian who knows my dog," she says. "The vet just wasn't very interested. It's like, 'Yeah, we'll be glad to help you, but there wasn't any real interest there.'"

She moved on to the next veterinarian and found Dr. Betsy Sigmon, chairman of the Judicial Council of theAmerican Veterinary Medical Association. She says she prides herself and her practice on service.

"Take the time to spend with clients. Let them make informed choices rather than me dictating this is what you're going to do," she says.

Choosing a veterinarian is an important process, and there are two things you should ask yourself before you start.

"What is most important to you: the bottom line or safety," Sigmon says.

If safety is a concern, you will want an animal clinic with high-tech equipment like heart monitors.

When you know what kind of clinic you want, Dr. Sigmon recommends touring it and interviewing the veterinarians. Here are some questions to ask yourself and the vet.
  • Are you shown the whole clinic, front and back?
  • Does it smell clean?
  • How are emergencies handled?
  • Ask to talk with clients?
  • How do they handle referrals for special procedures?
  • Do you feel like you can trust them?
  • "If they're continually looking at their watch while they're talking with you, or if they look like they're doing you a favor by being in the room with you, you may want to seek services elsewhere," Sigmon says.

    It is a special thing -- the bond between a pet and its owner. For Garrison, it is one she would like to preserve as long as possible.

    "They're very important members of the family to us," she says.

    There are also a couple of questions to ask before your pet has any type of surgery.
  • Ask the veterinarian how many times they have performed the procedure.
  • Ask for a written estimate, so you will know what you owe.
  • Check with the state licensing board to see if there has been any disciplinary action taken against the veterinarian. You can call the North Carolina Veterinary Medical Board at919-733-7689.
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    Lynda Loveland, Reporter
    Gil Hollingsworth, Photographer
    Kamal Wallace, Web Editor

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