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Building a dog hospital

683 Views 6 Replies 5 Participants Last post by  echo8287
I have been in the construction business all my life. I am a builder, licensed plumber, electrician, and low voltage contractor. I have had many dogs over the years and have a soft spot in my heart for them. I think they are the greatest animals on the planet. One of my relatives is a vet and my daughter had a boyfriend that is a vet. I have 2 mini/girl/sister schnauzers that are 12 years old and I love them dearly. Recently one of them contracted diabetes and I am on that journey with her. I noticed what looked to be the start of cataracts in her eyes. She can still see at this time. My daughter had a mini boy schnauzer and he had cataracts too and went blind. It saddened me to watch him walk around and run into things. He loved to fetch things and would rather do that than eat. Towards the end I would throw his favorite toys just a few feet away so he could find them with his nose. He passed away last year.
I was trying to be proactive so I started looking at having the cataracts removed and noticed the high cost. I started thinking what if all dog and cat owners got together and opened their on animal hospital. Maybe hire some vets out the veterinary colleges. Start go-fund me accounts to buy equipment. Enlist and recruit funds from people that love animals and leave stuff in their wills. Maybe as time passes we could pay college tuition, for vets that believe in our foundation and they would come work for us. Maybe as some of us retire we could work at our clinic too. Animal lovers helping animals. We would start with centrally located hospitals so that the most people could participate. We could keep prices low for all members that have contributed. Some used people equipment can be used effectively on animals. At one time I hurt my knee and had to go for an MRI, paid cash and it cost me $450.00(course it cost about that much to have it read too). I checked into having an MRI on a dog and they wanted $2500, just because they have to sedate them. That seems like a rip off to me. You can buy a used re-conditioned MRI machine for $150,000 and upwards from there, but it's not impossible. The cataracts I was speaking of earlier they want $3500 an eye for a dog. It's $3500 to $5000 for people. My wife says I am crazy to even think something like this could be done. I am a positive thinker and I will put my money where my mouth is. My dogs probably wouldn't be here to benefit from it, but maybe yours will.

Tell me what ya'll think positive or negative. I hope my wife isn't right> I hate to admit when she's right!
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Nice thought, huge heart, but not wholly practical. The first thing is, who's going to pay the vet and how much is the vet getting paid? If it is community run/funded, is this a non-profit versus a regular business? If every day owners are involved, who determines the policies and ethics of the organization (ex. person walks in with an animal for euthanasia, what is the protocol)? Even for roles like vet techs and receptionists, those people need an exceptional amount of skill and compassion in their roles. It is not just a job your average pet lover or pet owner can walk in and fulfill. Folks can't just simply retire and work there.

The reality is, vet school is insanely hard (some say harder than getting a human medical degree), with fewer opportunities and high levels of competition. There is a reason why all of it is so expensive, and it's not to line the pockets of veterinarians. On top of that, suicide rates in the veterinary community are higher than average.

Whereas I think ideas like getting used equipment are nice, I think it is a little idealistic to think that crowd funding this field would fully cover the amount of hard work, professionalism, stress, and specialty that goes into this field. But hey, I'd love to be proven wrong. And I think the closest model you'll find is veterinarians who work for non-profit organizations.
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guess you could look at St Jude Hospital business model
We actually have something really similar here, but they only do vaccinations and spay/neuter, and instead of fostering baby vets, it's volunteer hours from local vet practices. Basically a way less ambitious version of what you're proposing, lol.

Logistically it's often easier to get this type of effort off the ground when you take advantage of already existing local facilities and people, rather than starting from scratch. The Fairbanks Animal Shelter Fund, for example, pays for medical procedures and treatment for animals that would otherwise be euthanized - they connect animals, money, and service providers, rather than having their own hospital. But that does limit the scope of the thing...

I think you're underestimating the overhead associated with running a veterinary hospital - you haven't even touched on things like insurance, health and retirement plans for employees, etc. That's all part of why veterinary procedures cost as much as they do. Also, there's an economy of scale (and also, a fair bit of government funding and whatnot) that goes into human hospitals, so I'm not sure the cost of a human procedure vs a vet procedure is an apples-to-apples comparison.
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I have to agree with the above posters, especially the financial considerations noted by Canyx and Parus.

But given your tradesman skills and interest in animal well being, here's an idea that ties them together--
Keepings dogs safe and in their homes is a big part of keeping dogs healthy and out of shelters.

There are organizations that help build fences to keep dogs off tie-outs for example. Another is building ramps from house to yard for elderly dogs or ones with hip dysplasia and similar.

Building for human needs helps dogs too-- home modifications for wheelchair users who have trouble accessing their yard with their dog, interior and exterior home modifications for wheelchair users and mobility impaired who use assistance dogs and need that maybe things like nonslip flooring for the dog or wider door frames for them both.

And supporting existing shelters and clinics--
Many non profit shelters could benefit from a skilled tradesperson to build kennels, run drainage and water for cleanliness, repair damage from destructive animals, and more.
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I really don't want to be a naysayer, because this is an inspired, ambitious vision that comes from a compassionate place, and that's how big change gets made. But at the same time, I don't see how this clinic could operate significantly less expensively than a typical clinic would - your skilled workers do still need to make a living wage, and other things like utilities, licensing, and equipment cost what they cost. So the big difference is really only that the cost is being absorbed by donors and some volunteers rather than by clients, which doesn't necessarily require a new facility, does it?

What do you think of this organization? http://www.vet-i-care.org/index.php
Thanks to all that replied!!! I had not asked my wife what she really thought before I posted this and felt like she would be fairly negative. She handles insurance and payments at a regular doctors office. So on the ride home from church on Easter I started talking about it. Her thoughts matched some of all that posted,But she thought it would be be a herculean effort if it could be done. According to Mr. Google there are about 57% of families in the USA that have a dog or cat>approximately 86 million cat people and 78 million dog people(National Pet Owner Survey 2018) and there are other types of animal pets. 1 to 2% of these owners have pet insurance, pretty low number. What does that say about the pet insurance business? People spend approximately $378 a year on dogs and $191 on cats at the vet. Average salary for a vet out of school $60,000, medium salary $88,000, high salary 161,000.
Now I am just thinking and would like your input(if I'm a nut case or not, you can start a poll it won't hurt my feelings). For normal dog and cat problems I would go to my regular vet. I think of these Universities for more far ranging problems. Trouble is lately some of these colleges don't get very good reviews and the costs are pretty exorbitant. I believe they receive government funding and there prices should be somewhat lower since they are teaching colleges.
People sometimes try to get their very sick animals in trials at these teaching hospitals and maybe that's a good idea>but the charges are still very high. I personally don't want my pet used as a lab rat even if they may have the latest medical information. I would rather be with my pet. I took my 2 dogs to UGA for laparoscopic ovariectomy spay surgery> it cost me $1200. I liked the fact that they were over it in one day and at the time, I was working non stop and had the money. It may have been overkill but not to me.
Hypothetically if you could get 1 million pet owners to donate $100 you would have 100,000,000 maybe enough to start let's say 3 hospitals. I spend more than that on food every month for my 2 dogs. You take your wife out to eat 2 times a month and spend that. I am thinking it would not be a non profit, but sort of a Costco/Sam'sClub/Amazon Prime type of effort with a hospital like St. Jude in mind.(good call Patricia, a place that cares about the patient)
It would lower the cost to members for expensive procedures, ie broken bones, tumors,eye surgery, surgical procedures, maybe dental procedures. We might be like an HMO centrally located in the most populated animal areas. We might be able to work in conjunction with local vets, as they might have use of our facilities and machines sort of as an outpatient type situation. Maybe swapping some labor for medical machine time. We would locate the physical buildings so pet owners could drive to the facility in less than 8 hours so more pets could be helped. We could have a few dorm room type living quarters for the owner to stay with their dog for short periods.

Canyx, "who determines the policies and ethics of the organization"I still believe we live in a Democracy(I may be wrong these days) but as a donor of the organization we would vote on the policies and ethics. Those that participate/donate/propagate would all help make the decisions of the organization.
parus "I don't see how this clinic could operate significantly less expensively than a typical clinic would" All pet owners would not need the services that this entity would provide, But they would be there if they were needed. I am willing to donate so that your dog or cat can be helped and I believe other pet owners may feel the same way> this is still America and we all love pets. We could get some high profile folks on board for advertising and solicitation of donations. I will donate time, money and labor. I think sometimes retired people are underestimated in what they can do. I am not retired at this time.
Shell, I have actually installed automatic dog kennel water supply's for some shelters.
parus,"I think you're underestimating the overhead associated with running a veterinary hospital" You could be right but at one time for a stretch, I worked for the Ritz Carlton. There anything can done and when you get a small work force of dedicated employees, I believe anything can be accomplished. Motivation for a fury little pet that loves you unconditionally, loyally, provides more entertainment than you can ever get at the movie is worth it to me. I think that there are more animal lovers that feel this way these days than ever before.
parus, the vet-i-care site looks like a great organization, I would like to work WITH organizations like that because together they might help us subsidize the costs and help a larger quantity of animals through our medical facility. We would help them and thus the pets and owners by lowing costs. I have a friend and a relative that is a vet. I will call them and see what they make a year, their benefit plans, and what they think about this idea. It may be a pie in the sky and maybe not. Dave
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