The July 15, 1999 issue of the Journal of the Veterinary Medical Association, reports on a comprehensive survey of pet owners commissioned by three major national veterinary medical associations. According to the survey, overall pet ownership has increased during the 1980s and 1990s; however some substantial shifts in the types of pets owned have occurred. The dog population appears to be stable or is increasing only slightly. The cat population has increased substantially as compared to the dog population. Most interesting is the increase in the number of households owning nontraditional pets, such as birds, fish, rabbits, ferrets, and reptiles. In addition, the survey indicated that:
- Dog owners tend to spend more on their pets than cat owners.
- Cat owners are more price sensitive than dog owners and are less likely to seek veterinary -care than dog owners.
- Traditional pets are more likely to receive veterinary care than exotic pets (1).
When asked to rank the following criteria used when selecting their veterinarian, pet owners indicated that they must find that:
- The veterinarian is kind and gentle.
- The veterinarian is respectful and informative.
- The veterinarian has a reputation for high-quality care.
- Past experience with the veterinarian is positive.
- A broad range of services is offered.
- The location is convenient.
- The hours are convenient.
- A friend or neighbor has given a positive recommendation.
It is interesting to note that price was mentioned NINTH in order of importance (1)! The study suggests that, since clerical and technical staff play a vital role in the client’s image of the clinic, informing them of these results is important. Good telephone etiquette, often a potential client’s first impression of your clinic, is something your staff can practice to succeed in meeting the criteria of pet owners.
(1) Journal of the American Veterinary Medicine Association, vol 215, No. 2, July 15, 1999, pp 161-183.
(2) Plumb, Donald C. Veterinary Drug Handbook, 3rd ed. Ames: Iowa State University Press, 1999.
(3) Federal Register, April 9. 1999