Peel vet speaks out on chasing debts and ‘emotional blackmail’

A Peel veterinarian has expressed her frustration with “emotional blackmail” and clients failing to make payments after emergency procedures.

Serpentine Vet owner Belinda Beynon said a client came to the vet in a panic after her two dogs were bitten by snakes. 

After examining the dogs, Ms Beynon told the woman it would cost about $3000, assuming the anti-venom worked.

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Ms Beynon said the woman agreed and said she could pay $1500 upfront and the other half the following week. 

“We proceeded with treatment and the dogs had a full recovery the following day,” she said.

But, she said the woman failed to return calls, emails and a letter following the treatment – which was more than one year ago. 

People say, ‘If you loved animals, you would do this'.

Serpentine Vet owner Belinda Beynon

Ms Beynon said the person she bought the clinic from two years ago told her she left with a $90,000 debt from unpaid bills. 

The vet of 28 years said she also had a debt bill from clients not paying for procedures, but was not sure of the total amount.

She said the clinic makes a small profit from services, with most of the money going towards rent, insurance, staff costs, equipment repairs and medicine.

“Most people don’t realise this,”  she said. 

Ms Beynon said clients can panic and make a rash decision when they visit the vet in an emergency. 

In the heat of an emergency clients become paralysed with fear for the love of their animal.

Serpentine Vet owner Belinda Beynon

“Most vets will give an estimate, but we have to warn people of what something might cost,” she said. 

“What happens often in veterinary practice is clients find themselves in high emotion.

“In the heat of an emergency clients become paralysed with fear for the love of their animal.

“They won’t think about the financial repercussions of agreeing to the treatment.”

Ms Beynon said some clients “emotionally blackmail” vets.

“People say, ‘If you loved animals, you would do this’,” she said. 

“Most of them are nice people, but they are scared.”

Ms Beynon said she would never turn an animal away. 

“You never let an animal suffer,” she said. 

“We provide first aid which could be pain relief, antibiotics or euthanasia depending on the situation.”