Podcast #20

Old rusted locked box labelled 'DONATIONS'
One of the most frustrating aspects of being a vet is that you are frequently attacked by clients for ‘not caring’, or ‘not having a heart’, when you ask them to pay for services. Services are often argued to be priced too high, and discounts, freebies and ‘breaks’ are often sought by clients.

Clients use various techniques to ABUSE or MANIPULATE vets in order to get a lower bill, or to not pay for services. These techniques include pity stories, attacks on personal ethics/values, threats, and various other ploys including just not paying. The sad part is, they often work. We often ‘feel bad’ for the clients that ‘can’t afford’ the treatment for their pet, even though we often see their money spent on clothing, make-up, cars, accessories, or cosmetic procedures. Clients will shamelessly put us in a situation where they make us feel that we are not ‘charitable people’ if we don’t help them.

When we give in to these ploys, this isn’t true charity, this is us being naive, a chump, or just not confident enough to stand up for ourselves.

True charity is when you give of yourself (whether that is time, money, energy or emotion) out of your own free will. NOT when you are forced, guilted or coerced into it!
Charity is donating some of the canned goods you just bought from the grocery store to the can drive at the exit door of the store, with no pressure and out of your own good-will.

Having someone come and steal a bag of shopping from you when you are loading it in the car, or demanding you give it at gun-point, or telling you are an awful human being if you don’t give it, is not charity, it is THEFT!

This is what clients do when they refuse to pay for services they agreed to, when they threaten us with legal action/social media slander/bodily harm, or use emotional bullying to try to get services for free.
Associates Being ‘Charitable’ is STEALING:
lego character of theif and police.
Donating or being charitable with someone else’s time, money, belongings or resources is THEFT!
As an associate vet, when you are giving into clients to do things for free, or at a discount, you aren’t being charitable at all, you are STEALING FROM YOUR BOSS! Think about it, you aren’t being paid less money for that hour of work (unless you work on commission), so you really aren’t suffering at all for giving into that person. You aren’t being charitable at all. You are forcing your boss to lose profit and they don’t even know it is happening.

At Christmas, it is charitable if you donate money to a Santa collecting money for the poor.

If you dress up in a Santa suit, pick-pocket wallets from people, and then give that money to the poor, you aren’t being charitable! You are stealing from others, in the disguise of a beloved character.
If you truly want to be charitable, you can either open and own a clinic and then you can discount as much as you like, or write that client a cheque for the amount of money they need for treatment. And just as the saying goes “Don’t lend money to family”, I would strongly argue to never ‘lend’ money to clients, at least not if you need or expect it to ever be repaid!
How KICK ASS VETS Are Charitable:
Charity is good for the soul, good for the community, and good for the world. However, this is TRUE charity, not forced charity. Charity should make you feel good, and not add undue stress/strain on your life! Also, throwing money at a cause in itself never helps in the long run. Charities often are set up such that they create systems that make a difference. By not having a client pay for services, they will just continue to manipulate people in the future to not pay for their own expenses. Charity is successful when it is planned and involves systemic processes that have long term solutions to problems, not just a temporary bandaid.
Three different projects the Rainforst Trust is working on.
Rainforest Trust is a charity that has strategic plans to save the forests, animals and oceans! These strategic plans are more likely to succeed!
Charity is taken out of your discretionary resources. This can be time, energy, emotion, or financial. Charity can be within your own family, can be within your own community, or to a universal cause you believe in. Charity also should be on your own terms. If you are financially struggling, if you cannot feed your kids, you shouldn’t be forced/manipulated to donating to charity. Make sure you are protecting yourself, and keeping your own finances, time and energy on track before giving of yourself to others.

Also, because vets are vets, society feels that every moment of our lives is spent thinking about animals. We are expected to be charitable to animal related causes. However, that isn’t true for all vets. It is OK, and probably good for you, to be charitable in a field that is unrelated to your work. Be charitable for the environment, for the oceans, for the homeless, for the mentally challenged, for the sick, for whatever you feel passionately about. Don’t feel you have to be charitable to animal causes because you are a vet, and that is what people expect of you!
Let's Get Personal
My personal charitable donations go to the Rainforest Trust which helps buy up rainforest so that it cannot be sold to farmers that will flatten the land and plant palm trees- saving both the environment, the creatures of the rainforest and most importantly to me, the oceans.

We also take part in World Vision’s Christmas gifts of goats, chickens, etc to communities in need, helping to improve the infrastructure of their communities to have a lasting impact.

Another one of my FAVOURITE ways to be charitable is to go on vacation! By eating at locally run food establishments, and taking part in activities that change the economic benefits to the local people to protect the environment instead of previously detrimental activities, you are directly helping! Ex: In Fiji if you go swimming/diving to see the sharks or marine life, you are contributing to saving the sharks, coral and marine life by making it more profitable for locals to protect the ocean. This means that practices such as shark finning and dynamite fishing are stopped, because it isn’t as profitable! This is a true, helpful, and incredibly impactful way to be charitable.
Collage of scuba, snorkelling, and mountain climbing pictures.
These are pictures of some of my favourite ‘donations’. We always ensure the companies we use, and the trips we take are environmentally friendly, and ethical. The Altruistic Traveller is a good resource to start with!
So overall, charity is good, and you should do it! Just make sure that your charity is true to yourself, from your heart, and on your own terms. Don’t be charitable with other people’s resources, because that is just stealing in a fancy suit!

Charity can be great for mental health, depression, physical health (planting trees, Habitat For Humanity, environment clean-ups), family bonding and teaching kids the importance of community… and those are only the benefits to the individuals doing the helping! Charity also doesn’t have to be expensive. With the amount of debt that vets are graduating with, and the poor salaries to combat this debt, vets often don’t have the disposable income to give to charities. In that case, don’t feel bad about offering your other resources such as time, emotion, energy and physical labour, in lieu of financial resources!

Do you have any favourite charities or charitable oppourtunities that you would like to share with others? Or, do you feel you need help in combatting clients when they are making you feel ‘uncharitable’? Contact Us and we will share your favourite charities on our KICK ASS VETS network, or check out our KICK ASS Consulting for some extra help when dealing with challenging clients!
Written by Dr. Ann Herbst BSc, DVM

Published December 2, 2019

Advocate for yourself, you are the only one that will!

Most Recent Blogs
KICK ASS Boundaries for Locums
Locuming can leave you just as stressed and exhausted as full-time work, if you don't set the right boundaries!
Imposter Syndrome
Chances are you will experience Imposter Syndrome in your career, so tackle it head on!
KICK ASS Confidence
Confidence is knowing that you cannot know everything, and new/recent graduates need to know this!
Stay In Touch With Kick Ass Vets