We have had a longstanding policy at our clinic, asking pet owners to leave their pets in the car while they check in for the appointment, at least until they are called into an exam room. Many comment on it, and despite our insistence, we do understand how frustrating this can be at times. Not everybody has a vehicle with working heat or air conditioning, which can make the wait a little uncomfortable.
This policy exists to protect you, your pet, and other people’s pets. I like to tell pet owners that introducing dogs to each other at the vet clinic is like shaking hands at the urgent care. Sometimes its friendly, but we don’t know what the other party is here for, and really don’t want to catch anything that might be contagious. Your six month old puppy may be fully vaccinated for everything under the sun, but the 14-year-old Labrador coming in for an appointment might not have the immune system your healthy-as-a-horse pup does. So if your puppy has managed to fight off a respiratory infection, that doesn’t always mean it can’t be passed on to an unsuspecting patient.
And sometimes, all parties are just not friendly. Dogs can make their own judge of character very quickly, and don’t always tell us why they made that judgement, or what they are going to do about it. Owner A might know that their dog likes making new friends, but Owner B’s dog might be a little grumpy after just getting their vaccines. All it takes is the wrong sniff, and a fight could break out. Not only do the pets get hurt, but owners get hurt, then we have two dogs and two owners leaving with a bad experience. It may sound all hypothetical, but there have been incidents, which is why we are so firm on this policy.
If we have an aggressive dog, whether it be towards people or other animals, we will do our best to be certain that walkways are clear upon entering and exiting. This is also why keeping your pet on a close leash is so important.
Our clinic also agrees that there are at least a few exceptions to every rule. Cats and small dogs that can be kept in carriers do not typically pose an issue. Small dogs that can be held in their owner’s arms are okay if absolutely necessary, but there is still a risk if a larger dog passes by and isn’t happy about other people’s pets. Some service dogs NEED to be in the lobby with their owner, and we will do our best to accommodate this. If there is a reason your pet absolutely cannot wait in your vehicle or outside with you, please discuss it with staff upon check-in, and we will try to work with you, but sometimes it ultimately means rescheduling.
Thank you for understanding!