DEAR DR. FOX: Thank you for writing that strong, factual column about Blue Pearl's misdeeds. It was exactly on the mark when it comes to assisting pet owners to make the wisest choices for their pets.
I decided to write to the Florida attorney general (about the issue of emergency vet clinics taking advantage of customers, especially elders like the person who wrote to you). The AG's office responded within days, telling me to also write to the state's Department of Elder Affairs, its Department of Business and Professional Regulation and its Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services -- along with the Federal Trade Commission and the Better Business Bureau, which I had already done.
I sent out letters to all of the above. The AG also said that your reader might want to consult an attorney -- obviously believing, as you have from the start, that your reader's problem should be addressed. -- L.C., Fort Myers, Florida
DEAR L.C.: Thanks for the update. This gives me faith that the power of the press has not been lost, and that responsible public action can keep fairness, honesty, integrity and justice alive and well in these dystopian times.
DEAR DR. FOX: I read the recent letter from a concerned friend regarding a $5,000 bill that an elderly woman accrued at Blue Pearl vet hospital. If I could find out more, I would call that hospital and help out by paying some of it. I can't pay it all, but I would help.
It really struck a nerve with me: I had a dear aunt who helped me pay for an MRI on a beloved pet once, when there was no way I could come up with the $5,000 it cost. -- S.D., Loxahatchee Groves, Florida
DEAR S.D.: Your generous offer is much appreciated, but at this moment in time, it is too late. But there will be more such instances in the future, along with fake appeals for donations to help pay for pet bills that have been fabricated. There is so much corruption and exploitation in these times that it is difficult to know who to trust.
In the "old days," one could usually trust one's veterinarian, and I am doing my best to help restore that in my column. A few bad apples in this profession rot the reputation of the lot.
DEAR DR. FOX: I share your outrage over the unscrupulous charges the poor woman received from Blue Pearl for the care of her dog. I did not know that Banfield Hospital is also owned by Mars Inc. My cat gets her care at our local Banfield. I hope the vets there are on the up-and-up.
My Ginger, an indoor-only cat, is on the top insurance plan that they offer ($40/month). I have been very satisfied. At her most recent checkup, the doctor did standard tests, plus several others I didn't know she needed. My cost was $0.
One more thing that should make you smile: Ginger and I both take amlodipine for our blood pressure. She gets the liquid in her wet food, and I take the pill. -- D.L., West Palm Beach, Florida
DEAR D.L.: Thanks for sharing your experience with veterinary services and pointing to the benefits, for those like you who can afford it, of comprehensive pet health insurance coverage. This enables veterinarians to do often-costly diagnostic tests and provide thorough wellness examinations, especially for older animals.
As you have discovered, many of us -- and our cats -- develop high blood pressure with age, and we both benefit from similar medications. Cats can have strokes, go blind, become partially paralyzed or even die when their hypertension is not regulated with proper diet and medication. But monitor your cat's kidney function, since this medication can have adverse consequences.
(Send all mail to email@example.com or to Dr. Michael Fox in care of Andrews McMeel Syndication, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106. The volume of mail received prohibits personal replies, but questions and comments of general interest will be discussed in future columns.
Visit Dr. Fox’s website at DrFoxOneHealth.com.)