Jim Hightower: Why would we let Wall Street “take care of” our pets? | Chroniclers

For many people, the animals they adopt and love look more like family members than pets. We form deep relationships, not only with the 164 million dogs and cats in our country, but also with the beloved parrots, goats, horses and other critters who at least claim to love us back, bringing comfort and joy all over. around.

Sadly, life for all of us animals is a turn of the wheel of fortune, so illness and injury do occur. That’s why some of the most valued members of every community – from neighborhoods in big cities to remote rural areas – are the staff at our local veterinary office. This is a special group, not only because of their remarkable medical knowledge and skills, but mostly because virtually all of the vets, nurses, technicians and support staff are there mainly because they love animals and get a kick out of it. personal satisfaction in caring for them.

When I say they’re ‘there’ I mean not only 9 to 5, but for the most part it’s a group of independent healthcare providers who are committed to being there when needed – including hours and days off, for animal misfortune and suffering does not go by clocks and calendars. Generally speaking, local vets also try to be there for low-income people who have more love than money to spend, offering deferred payment plans and even reduced fees so their pets can receive the treatment they need.

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But wait, sound the ambulance sirens! Something is wrong at all! This venerable profession which for generations has been a positive blend of private enterprise and essential public service has recently collapsed into a Wall Street-owned chain business model. They monopolize markets, downsize staff, gut service, and prioritize love of money over love of animals. It’s not uncommon these days for frantically worried customers to bring a sick or injured pet to their trusted old veterinary practice only to find that it has quietly become chain-owned and understaffed and does not want to accept the patient, forcing a desperate race to find emergency care. , often out of town.

The same profit-making corporate mentality that has proven to be disastrous for human health care is now quickly blocking pet care – and it should be banned as an act of animal cruelty.

Question: What do a pack of M & M’s and your local vet have in common? Answer: Both are owned by Mars Inc., the global candy monopoly.

Since the 1980s, we have seen massive consolidations of industry after industry – airlines, insurance companies, newspapers, supermarkets, banks, the Internet … candy, etc. They have created monopolies that flout consumers, workers, communities, suppliers and our nation’s commitment to the common good. So now the attitude of the company seems to be “what is it, why not let the monopolization go to the dogs?” “

This change was led by “private equity groups”. These are corporate takeover sharks that borrow billions of dollars to buy out, loot, and then sell the leftovers of established businesses. They target businesses that can be entered at low cost but have strengths like a loyal customer base. Then the sharks raise the prices on those customers while reducing the staff and the quality of service.

This has happened in thousands of local veterinary surgeries and hospitals, which have been quietly picked on by Wall Street entities with indescribable acronyms like IVC, JAB, KKR, and VCA. At first, the locals don’t notice the takeover, as the corporate outfit not only buys your friendly “Dr. Barry Bones’ veterinary service, but they also buy the doc’s name.” As one IVC recovery consultant said, “People like to take their dogs to local vets and don’t feel like they’re a corporate machine.”

But more and more, it is. Solo practitioners who have turned vets to provide friendly, community service must now answer bean counters at headquarters – and, above all, they must serve profit rather than animals. The Veterinary Center of America (VCA), for example, is one of the most aggressive monopolists, controlling access and prices charged by more than 1,000 veterinary establishments in 43 states. In 2017, VCA was acquired by Mars Inc.

The National Union of Veterinary Professionals is a fiery group that fights against monopolists. Get information on natvpu.org.

Populist author, speaker and radio commentator Jim Hightower writes “The Hightower Lowdown,” a monthly newsletter chronicling the ongoing struggles of ordinary Americans against the power of plutocratic elites. Register at HightowerLowdown.org.

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