What veterinarians can do when pet owners snarl

July 25, 2019
Caitlin DeWilde, DVM

Caitlin DeWilde, DVM, owns the social media consulting company The Social DVM and practices as an associate at a St. Louis-area hospital.

Your veterinary client is baring their teeth on social mediaor even in person. Heres the first thing to do in either case.

As veterinary professionals, you're a little used to danger-after all, your patients come with naturally built-in weapons. But what happens when it's not a pet getting violent in your clinic? What if it's the pet's owner?

“The first thing I would recommend,” Caitlin DeWilde, DVM, says when asked what to do about managing an abusive pet owner, “is to protect your clinic name, your reputation, your staff.”

Managing mad clients

You can't muzzle your veterinary clients, but maybe these helpful articles can provide an even better solution:

The next thing she recommends is to assess the situation and act accordingly.

“If the pet owner is being physically threatening, or threatening monetary or bodily harm, that's a totally different context than just the unhappy pet owner,” she says. “So once you've differentiated those two, I would look at it from that perspective. If they are harmful in any way, absolutely, they need to be blocked, they need to be reported and you need to consider removing them from your client list.”

However, she says, there's a difference between being abusive and being unhappy, and you need to understand that difference as well.

“If they're just unhappy, is that an opportunity that we may have to connect with them?” she wonders. “Sometimes, yes-oftentimes, no-but if you at least make those attempts, you can feel better about moving forward.”

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