Ask Katie: How many pets is too many?

July 23, 2018
Katie Adams, CVPM
Katie Adams, CVPM

Katie Adams, CVPM, is owner and management consultant at Agrygation Consulting.

This readers hospital has a generous employee discount on products and services, so some veterinary team members seem to be loading up on pets. Our certified veterinary practice manager Katie Adams says its time to rein in the rewards.

A job in a veterinary practice is not a license to build a personal petting zoo at home. (Shutterstock.com)Q: We have a really generous employee discount for personal pets (50 percent off of services, and food and medications at cost). Several employees have taken on multiple pets since joining us. What's the best way to address the “too many pets” issue?

A: We are an industry of compassionate pet lovers, and when being offered a nice discount, it seems as though we can afford more pets. The reality is that if those employees weren't working at your clinic, they wouldn't be able to afford all the animals they have. And frankly, it's not a clinic's responsibility to pay for its employees' pets.

I recommend setting a limit on the number of pets that an employee can have “enrolled” in the discount program. Require employees to declare which pets they want to receive the discount for; services for all other pets are at regular price.

It's important for me to point out as well that the IRS caps employee discounts at 20 percent. Any discounted amount in excess of that would be considered income for employees, and they could be taxed on that income. You may want to revamp your policy to include this change as well, just to keep the clinic and the employee out of hot water.

Katie Adams, CVPM, is director of curriculum development at veterinary education provider Ignite Veterinary Solutions based in Austin, Texas.