Usually this blog is devoted to covering the widespread mismanagement at Los Angeles County’s Department of Animal Care and Control – and there will be some coverage of new developments included herein. However there is news today that threatens all pet owners and rescuers that this column feels obligated to cover.
Today’s announcement that VCA veterinary hospitals is being sold to M&M Mars, the candy maker and owner of Banfield Pet Hospitals is highly disturbing. Even though personally I am a VCA stockholder and will financially receive a huge windfall from the merger, this will be terrible for those seeking honest and quality care for their pets. The merger will give the combined company a virtual monopoly on the veterinary business.
Banfield already has a horrible reputation as its veterinarians are directed by corporate officials to upsell their clients. VCA has been buying veterinary clinics throughout California at an alarming rate. At VCA, many veterinarians are being directed to perform three billable procedures on your pet – whether they need it or not. How often have you gone to a VCA vet and been told that if you care about your pet that they should run a panel on your pet – and been billed between $200 and $300 for the process. According to several ex-VCA veterinarians 90 percent of the time there is no reason to run a panel other than to make money for the veterinary clinic. Veterinarians’ will be compensated over their billable procedures, so your pets’ interests will not coincide with that of the person you are supposed to trust – your veterinarian!
The combined Banfield – VCA company will give a stranglehold on America’s veterinary industry. They will have over 1,600 clinics and 20 specialty hospitals. You will have virtually no choice in finding an independent veterinarian and prices will be both fixed and higher. Hopefully the government will block this merger – but with the Trump regime’s takeover of the reigns of power things look bleak for pet owners and pets.
In this week’s DACC news, rumors are that a complaint was filed with the County’s Equity department about Baldwin Park Shelter manager, Sheri Koenig’s harassment of a well-respected Major Case Unit (MCU) employee. The significance of this complaint is that it was filed with Equity rather than the DACC’s human affairs department. This reduces DACC head Marcia Mayeda’s ability to interfere with the investigation as Equity conducts its investigations outside the DACC’s jurisdiction. To date Koenig has been able to skate through a series of scandals as investigations were squashed by Mayeda – but according to DACC insiders this one might stick. Meanwhile there are reports that Baldwin Park employees are considering a circulating a petition demanding Koenig’s ouster – as morale has plummeted to perhaps even a lower level than was there during Pat “Google Me” Claerbout’s reign of error.