How is it possible to do a spay or neuter so cheap? What you NEED TO KNOW about cheap neuter or spay services – Part 2.
We discussed how some low cost, high volume clinics are offering pet surgeries for unbelievable low fees. The cost for the disposables materials for a surgery is about $30. Veterinarians in Markham know, it takes about 15 to 60 minutes to spay a dog or cat depending on the anatomy of the patient. So how much staff and doctor time is allocated to the remaining $30.00? I guess that means at this rate the doctor and one or two assisting staff required for any surgery are earning below minimum wage. Obviously, this won’ t be the case… But that’s not all…
This calculation clearly leaves out the general cost and that age old term “overhead” of operating a veterinary clinic in Markham, or elsewhere in Ontario;
- Rent or mortgage payments on your office space
- Municipal, federal and provincial taxes
- Utilities (Phone, heat, hydro)
- Administrative costs (reception, records, computers, marketing, employee salaries, bank fees, credit card merchant fees)
- Operating room costs (surgical tools / forceps, sterilization equipment, anesthetic equipment, monitoring equipment [ECG, pulseoximeter, x-ray]) …all worth tens of thousands of dollars.
- GOVERNMENT FEES (Hazardous Waste licences and Biohazard disposal fees, WHMIS compliance, Inspection fees for numerous regulatory bodies [fire department, equipment inspection and calibration, maintenance charges, license fees])
- On and on and on and on ……
Well, you get the idea. Veterinarians in Markham agree, calling a $60.00 fee for a spay “cost recovery” is naïve, inconsiderate and quite frankly irresponsible. Perhaps the Toronto Star quote shortened or omitted some important information.
At the Animal Hospital of Unionville, a veterinary clinic in Markham, we love animals through and through. Our job is to inform and educate pet owners to facilitate their decision-making. Animals need our and your protection. Only when you have the right information and take the right action, can you give your pet optimal health. Low cost surgical services make us cringe… not because they save money, but because high standard quality can’t be “cheap”. In this series we hope to educate every pet owner about 14 important details you need to know before submitting your pet to any surgery.
Now that we know that $60 is just a drop in the bucket, ask yourself:
What’s the catch?
Who pays the difference and how do costs get recovered?
Are veterinarians passing the fees onto the client in other ways? Is there a separate funding model that allows these low cost surgeries at certain clinics?
Veterinary clinics operated by government-funded agencies and charitable organizations (such as the OSPCA – Ontario Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals) obviously have different sources of revenue, which they may use to recover their expenses. All of the staff and operating costs are already paid through other sources of revenue such as government budgeting or charitable donations. Whether the staff are doing surgeries or cleaning cages; whether the operating rooms are being used for surgeries or sitting empty these costs are already being paid (often by the tax payer).
A good analogy of the cost of surgery vs. the actual costs is the cost of driving your vehicle. We often mistake the cost of operating our vehicles as the high cost of fuel it takes to run them. But what about the tire wear, the maintenance, the insurance, the purchase and depreciation? These costs are already paid for or are often not considered on a day-to-day basis. In actuality an average car costs about $6,000.00 per year (based on 15,000 km per year) or 40 cents per kilometer to drive.
But why would and should you care? Next week we’ll reveal some ethically questionable issues about veterinary pricing and it’s going to get a bit sticky…