Vets Outraged at TV Report

A segment of ABC’s "20/20” program titled "Is Your Veterinarian Being Honest With You?” caused uproar in the veterinary community.

By Donna J. Plesh For Veterinary Practice News | Posted: December 18, 2013, 4 p.m. EST

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A recent "20/20" episode segment titled "Is Your Veterinarian Being Honest With You?" has outraged veterinarians across the country.
A segment of ABC’s "20/20” program titled "Is Your Veterinarian Being Honest With You?” caused uproar in the veterinary community.

The segment, reported by ABC News correspondent Gio Benitez, featured allegations by former Canadian veterinarian Dr. Andrew Jones that some vets in the U.S. and Canada sell unnecessary shots, tests and procedures to pet owners.  

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Veterinarians across the U.S. reacted with outrage, posting comments on social media sites. Some surmised that it was a typical sensational broadcast intended to drive ratings during the November "sweeps month.”

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CAT FANCY’s sister publication Veterinary Practice News contacted ABC News for comment.    

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"A former veterinarian, Andrew Jones, is known for questioning certain practices within the veterinary profession, and has made his views public through his website and writings. He and several other veterinarians with whom we spoke told us consumers should know what questions to ask when they visit their own veterinarians,” an ABC News spokeswoman said.

"‘20/20’ is doing our part to educate consumers and give them the tools needed to make the best decisions to keep their pets healthy.”

Marty Becker, DVM, a longtime contributor to the network’s morning show, "Good Morning America,” has said his comments in the segment were taken out context.

Addressing this, the spokeswoman said, "We did not misrepresent anything to Dr. Becker, either before, during, or after our interview.  And the comments from Dr. Becker that we included in our piece were presented accurately.”

Becker said he resigned from his contributing role over the incident. The ABC spokeswoman did not respond to repeated requests about his status with the network.

The segment was one of several airing Nov. 22 under the title "True Confessions.” Other segments included one on how bartenders can shortchange customers on the amount of spirits in their mixed drinks, and another detailed "supermarket secrets,” which included bacteria on shopping cart handles, rodents in some stores and dangers at the deli counter.

The episode aired during November, a television "sweeps” month. During sweeps months – February, May, July and November – the Nielsen TV ratings service samples a cross-section of representative homes throughout the United States to see what viewers are watching.

This information is the basis for program scheduling and advertising rates for local television stations, cable systems and advertisers. If a program does well during these periods, advertisers are charged more for commercials because rates are based on the number of viewers a program gets.  
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Vets Outraged at TV Report

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Reader Comments

Diane    Moorestown, NJ

1/12/2014 6:36:58 AM

Tara, I had a cat that had bladder stones twice. Our vet surgically removed them and we took her off of dry food. We also gave her glucosamine supplements. It is supposed to coat the bladder to help with irritation. Also, we have 14 cats and have pet insurance (Pet Plan) for all of them. The oldest costs us about $23 per month. You can get a discount if you sign up online, have multiple cat policies and pay quarterly. It has saved us THOUSANDS of dollars. Much more than we have paid in premiums over the past 3 yrs. I highly recommend them.

Tana    Rapid City, SD

1/11/2014 7:15:52 AM


I could have never done that to my poor kitty Zippy who was only 5 years old, I got him because I was so depressed I couldn't get out of bed. He laid on my bed right beside me for as long as I did and when he could sense I was really sad he would put his paw on my hand as if to tell me..."It will be alright"...I was devastated.

Dr. Trautman said those bladder stones happen to quite a few male cats, especially if they have been neutered. Adding a little salt to their diet, I guess helps prevent them from happening.

VETS across the US are outraged? NO I AM OUTRAGED!! If you are one of the good guys or gals that are actually in it to HELP animals that’s great, but if ya'll think your profession doesn't have its share of criminals then ya'll need to think again.

Tana K.

Tana    Rapid City, SD

1/11/2014 7:13:21 AM

It's the TRUTH! My cat Zippy could not urinate early Easter morning 7 years ago. I took him to Dakota Hills Vet Clinic where DVM Curtis Stonecipher was in charge of his care and it's the closest clinic to my house. They kept Zippy a couple days gave him a catheter, changed his food and told me he had small pebbles in his bladder & the food would dissolve them & he would be fine!! Cost $350.00 for Easter Sunday and another $300.00 for everything else.

Two weeks later I could hear him straining & in pain, again he was unable to pee. I took him back, they gave him another catheter, kept him a few more days said we would try another type of food, add a little salt to his diet, that would dissolve the small stones & he would be fine. Cost another $500.00!!

A few days later my female cat, Sassy started to drool like crazy I couldn't figure out what the heck was wrong with her, took her down to the clinic, she & Zippy both have Distemper, that they exposed my already ill cat to then sent him home & he gave it to her. Cost $75.00 for office call & $126.00 for the prescription to clear up the Distemper they gave to my cats!!

A little over 3 weeks went by & Zippy is in his box crying cause he is in so much pain & cannot pee again.

This time I took him to West Winds Vet Clinic, where DVM Kris Trautman had to give poor Zippy another catheter, took an x-ray, called me to tell me the stones were to large & she was pretty definite there was nothing she could do for him, but she was going to make a phone call to Texas to see if a leading facility in veterinary science knew of anything new that may help him. The next day she called to let me know that there was nothing to be done.

I went out spent some time with Zippy in the warm sunshine & green grass, then she put him to sleep & my heart was broken. Cost $129.00 for EVERYTHING. No office visit charge, but then again when you have 23 vets, technicians, kennel help & a couple office people I guess that $73.00 office charge helps pay the bills not to mention the other $1300.00 Dakota Hills & good ole DVM STONECIPHER swindled me out of by lying to me & giving me false hope that my cat would be fine.

Completely emptied my savings account & Dr Trautman took one x-ray & said nothing could save him. CURTIS STONECIPHER the lying crook knew that exact same thing, but made sure he got ALL my money first!!

To this day I wish I would have taken Zippy back to STONECIPHER, the lying crook after Trautman put him to sleep, and gone into their lobby holding him by the nap of his neck and just started screaming at the top of my lungs..."DOES HE LOOK FINE TO YOU"...until they gave me my money back!!!

Chris    Bristow, VA

1/10/2014 3:24:09 PM

These news shows are always pushing the outer edge of the "envelope" in their reporting. As consumers, we always should be clear about our preferences, what we can afford, and have a healthy degree of skepticism when buying health care for ourselves or our pets in particular. As pet owners we want to do what is prudent for our pets, but if you have a pet with chronic medical issues or a geriatric pet, you need to set your own limits on what you can afford and what you feel your pet really needs to be reasonably healthy and comfortable. The vets I know respond well to educated consumers who ask pertinent questions. So inform yourself and be clear about what your limits are.

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