As with Veterinary Receptionist Week, I wanted to create something for World Veterinary Day that went beyond “Thank you, vets!” For World Veterinary Day, the British Veterinary Association released some statistics on the amount of online abuse experienced by veterinarians. A survey had found that:
- 90% veterinarians report receiving unfair online reviews
- 46% of those include abusive language
- 33% of veterinarians experience trolling online
- 30% of vets experience general online harassment
I know the words “unfair” and “abusive” can be considered subjective, and the more cynical of us will say “They’re snowflakes. They need to suck it up”. Having needed to call and visit several emergency vets over the past 2 years and read a lot of reviews, and speaking as someone who doesn’t work in the veterinary field, I agree that many reviews really are unfair and abusive.
Those that choose to work in veterinary medicine did and do so at tremendous costs to themselves—financially and personally. Veterinarians spend an average of 8 years studying, taking on over $200,000 in student loans so they could spend their lives helping animals. Vet techs/nurses also spend money to study and become licensed, yet earn an average of $30,000 a year. Over the past 2 years, vet staff have been working overtime every day to help as many pets as possible. Yet, online reviews accuse them of:
- Not caring about pets
- Being cold-blooded killers or even “monsters”
- Being greedy/only being in it for the money
- Being inconsiderate (due to increased wait times)
Many pets around the world are already suffering due to a serious vet shortage. Suicidal ideation, depression, anxiety, and burnout brought on by veterinary work is causing 4 out of 10 vets to consider leaving their profession. Australia, which is one of the hardest hit by the vet shortage, loses 1 veterinarian to suicide every 12 weeks.
The situation is dire, but it can be helped by pet owners simply being more considerate, patient, kind, and courteous to vets and their staff.
Online abuse is often the tipping point that drives already distressed vets to suicide. This type of abuse is the most dangerous because online hate campaigns often result in mass attacks and death threats on individual vets. So, for World Veterinary Day, I’ve created this infographic “Think before you type”. Please share it with fellow pet owners and encourage kindness, patience, and courteousness when dealing with their vets.
Veterinarian online abuse statistics created in honor of World Veterinary Day 2022. Associated blog post: “Think before you type” infographic for World Veterinary Day 2022.
Think before you type
1 in 2 veterinarians experiences online abuse
- 9 in 10 vets receive unfair online reviews
- 1 in 2 is subject to abusive language
- 1 in 3 is targeted by trolling
- 3 in 10 experience online harassment
Think before you type…
“They killed my pet!”
How many days or weeks after your pet started showing symptoms did you delay because you didn’t want to spend the money? Did you decline the recommended diagnostics, treatments, and medications? Did you comply with care instructions and keep up with medications as prescribed?
“They’re just in it for the money!”
How do you pay for housing, bills, gas, food, and clothes? Which staff member should go without so you can get your visit comped or discounted: the receptionist who handled your appointment, the kennel assistant who cleaned up after your pet, the tech who treated your pet, or the vet who oversaw your pet’s care?
4 in 10 veterinarians are considering quitting. 1 in 6 has considered suicide.
Think before you type or speak. Your words have consequences.
Infographic containing statistics of veterinarian suicide risks and common causes of suicidal ideation in vets. More details in 3-Part Series: The veterinarian mental health crisis, causes & how you can help
Square social media image post on the frequency of veterinarian suicides in Australia. Decorated with illustrations of a map of Australia and native animals.