We all love our furkids.
Pet owners would go the extra mile to ensure their furkids are healthy and happy.
This pet owner took to Facebook to complain about a vet’s service after she was asked to leave the clinic.
She had refused to pay the additional walk-in fee of $72.11.
The vet has since responded.
On 3 March, Ms Juliet Isabella posted on Facebook page Complaint Singapore to detail her experience with Ohana VetCare Clinic at Loyang Point.
Her cat, Hachi, was suffering from an inflammation of its private parts and had vomited a few times on 2 March, prompting her to bring it down for a walk-in check-up.
She wrote, “I tried calling Ohana VetCare clinic from 6.24 pm to 7.25 pm many times, I had hung onto the line for so long but no one picked up the call at all!”
Attached to the post was a screenshot of Ms Isabella’s call history to prove that she was being honest.
“After numerous unsuccessful calls to Ohana VetCare Clinic, we decided to head down to the clinic which is just a 15-minute drive.”
According to Ms Isabella, she arrived at 8 pm. The clinic was set to close at 9 pm.
Moreover, the clinic was not crowded, with three staff operating the counter.
When told that she had to pay an additional walk-in fee of $72.11, Ms Isabella was outraged.
She explained that “no one picked up my numerous calls for one hour when I tried to make an appointment.”
“This is a vet clinic dealing with animal lives, how can they be so “uncontactable”?”
Ms Isabella proceeded to talk to the director of Ohana Vetcare, Dr Francis Tay.
However, she felt that “he did not look friendly nor did he seem welcoming to me. He never once bothered to ask me what happened to Hachi nor did he have the care to take a look at Hachi for one. He only made it clear to me if I don’t pay the +++ extra walk-in fee of $72.11, he will not see or treat Hachi at all.”
Apparently, when questioned on how she could have made an appointment when nobody picked up her numerous calls, Dr Tay merely “shrugged & smirked & didn’t reply” her.
He explained that the clinic staff could not pick up Ms Isabella’s calls from 6-7 pm as they were having dinner. However, Ms Isabella felt that it didn’t explain why nobody picked up her calls from 7 pm to 7.25 pm.
She added, “Instead of being empathetic & apologetic, Dr Tay sarcastically mocked at me.”
Allegedly, he said, “If you are not happy with our service, you can go & see another vet clinic. I don’t think you’ll pay the add-on walk-in fee.”
Though Ms Isabella was more than willing to pay her cat’s vet fee, the incident left a sour taste in her mouth.
She said, “The fact that Dr Tay prioritised the extra fee payable to him rather than at least care about the condition of his animal patient made me doubt his professional ethic code as a vet.”
When asked by The Straits Times for his side of the story, Dr Tay said that he charges a walk-in fee to discourage walk-ins as such customers would disrupt the clinic’s schedule.
He said that walk-ins would “ultimately result in longer waiting time for scheduled clients, staff skipping meals, poorer patient care, [and] stressed out staff and clients”.
Dr Tay also clarified that the walk-in fee of $72.11 included the consultation fee with a scheduled appointment, usually priced at $44.93.
Regarding Ms Isabella’s unanswered phone calls, Dr Tay said, “Our dinner time was from 6 pm to 7 pm, and we don’t answer calls while trying to buy or heat up food and then slurp it down.”
He noted that it was common for the clinic’s dinner break to last for only half an hour as the last consultation prior could stretch till 6.30 pm.
He also explained that “calls are not a priority, compared with the clients who have already come in” since the clinic is not an emergency clinic or hospital.
According to Dr Tay, Ms Isabella’s cat sat upright in its carrier and looked around curiously throughout the incident.
Apparently, Ms Isabella had “threatened to make a big deal” about the fee.
Dr Tay admitted, “I did smirk, and I wasn’t nice. But I chose to stand up against bullying. There is already a shortage of veterinary staff in Singapore. The job is not easy, whether as a vet or as a nurse.”
“The effect of clients being mean can’t be easily measured, but I’m sure it has contributed to people leaving the industry.”
The post received 23 comments before an admin turned off comments.
Netizens were generally supportive of Ms Isabella’s plight.
Some offered their well-wishes, wishing Hachi a smooth recovery while chastising Dr Tay’s conduct.
A netizen joked, “When a vet behaved worse than an animal… pfft…”
Other netizens encouraged Ms Isabella to lodge a complaint to agencies like National Parks (NParks) or the Animal and Veterinary Service (AVS).
Not the First Time Clinic has Made a Hoo-ha
This isn’t the first time that Ohana VetCare has made waves on the internet for the wrong reasons.
In 2019, several video clips were posted on the Kaki’s Club Facebook page depicting two nurses’ inappropriate behaviour with animals in the clinic.
In the video, a person is seen throwing objects in the shape of a tear-drop on the floor of a room with the caption “bouncing testicles”.
Another part of the video showed a person wearing a surgical mask juggling similar objects.
The video also shows a woman in scrubs clapping her hands behind a cat that looks like it had its ears surgically removed.
None of us would want our pets to be treated this way, especially when we place them in the hands of “professionals”.
Ohana VetCare contacted the employees to remove the video clips from their social media accounts.
Though the nurses didn’t have their employment terminated, they were suspended.
Moreover, the clinic said that the nurses would be confined to administrative roles if they stayed there.
Despite the negative attention the clinic has received, Ohana VetCare has an overall rating of 4.2 stars with 242 reviews.
However, the clinic has its fair share of 5-star and 1-star reviews.
1-star reviews tend to mention the unresponsiveness of the clinic.
Other 1-star reviews also cite the clinic’s professionalism and high prices as reasons for dissatisfaction.
According to The Straits Times, veterinary clinic walk-in charges are uncommon.
However, those with a walk-in charge price it from $10 to $40.
Since Ms Isabella’s post, the director of AVS, Ms Jessica Kwok, told The Straits Times that the agency is currently looking into the matter.
She noted that while AVS does not currently regulate fees charged for veterinary services, those in the profession are expected to perform duties to the highest standard.
She added, “Under the Code of Ethics for Veterinarians, a veterinarian should also conduct himself in relation to the public, his colleagues and their patients, and the allied professions, so as to merit their full confidence and respect.”