What's wrong with catalog drug sales?


I patiently explained the technique several times, but Mr. Bungle didn't seem to be able to grasp the concept.

I patiently explained the technique several times, but Mr. Bungle didn't seem to be able to grasp the concept.

There was nothing to do but keep trying.

"Now, remember," I said. "After you measure the insulin in the syringe, you have to put the needle through the skin, inject the liquid and then pull the needle back out."

Mr. Bungle proceeded to draw the appropriate amount of practice saline into the syringe. Then, for the tenth time, he put the needle into the cat, pulled it out and squirted the liquid onto the fur. After several decades of teaching pet owners how to control diabetes in dogs and cats, I was beginning to sense that my first failure was at hand.

We continued our training session using a roll of paper towels as the victim, but after countless foul-ups, I had to admit I'd met my match. I wanted things to be done in the following order: in-shoot-out. Mr. Bungle's brain would only go: in-out-shoot. Luckily, I was able to find a solution. This particular cat turned out to be one that could be stabilized on oral medication and eventually Mr. Bungle did master the ability to give the pill.

The same day as that ill-fated training session, I got a phone call from Dr. Helpful, a colleague who ran into a similar problem in her practice. It seemed that the use of intra-nasal vaccine was causing a great deal of side effects in Mr. Whaler's cattery. Being a breeder with a large number of cats and an avid do-it-yourselfer, Mr. Whaler had been ordering his vaccines by mail and administering them himself. Unfortunately, his cats were reacting painfully to the vaccine and the noses were staying swollen for up to two weeks afterward. Dr. Helpful checked the product he had been using. It was the proper vaccine, it was not outdated and caused no reaction when she administered it to one of her own cats. She thought, perhaps, that it was an allergy of some sort that ran in Mr. Whaler's line of Persians.

Her next step was to have Mr. Whaler bring in one of his cats and administer the vaccine in her office so that one of the reactions could be observed first hand. She watched as he mixed the vaccine, drew it up into a syringe with an 18-gauge needle, and proceeded immediately to harpoon the cat right between the nostrils. In her defense, let me say that the stabbing took place so quickly that she barely had time to react to what she was seeing, otherwise she would have stopped him from injecting the vaccine. At any rate, the reason for the sore noses became obvious at that point.

Why am I telling you about these people? Because they are just two of the millions of reasons that I believe vaccines should be sold in drug stores, pet stores and mail order catalogs.

Need more examples? How about Mrs. Foggythought. She scheduled an appointment to have her dog examined. He wasn't having any problems. She just wanted a check-up. I pointed out that although he seemed to be in fine health, he was due for his vaccines.

"That's why we're here, Doctor," she said. "I got his shots from Polyp & Carbuncle's catalog, but the label warns that pets should be healthy before vaccination, so I thought we'd have you examine him. By the way, I don't know how to give a shot, so as long as we're here, can you give the stuff for me?"

A glance at the vaccine she had purchased, along with a few questions, revealed that it was outdated and had not been properly refrigerated. Neither of those things mattered though, since it was cat vaccine and wouldn't do her dog any good anyway.

My point is that administering injections is a very easy thing for those of us who do it hundreds of times a week. But I cringe at the thought of people teaching themselves to do it at home with essentially no qualified instruction. After all, spays are simple, too, after you've done a few thousand of them. But no one would consider marketing a do-it-yourself spay at kit. (Or would they?)

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