According to the minutes of the August 25, 2008 Animal Services Commission meeting minutes,
Ed McCobb, CEO of Value Vet addressed the concerns about their prices. They work with Pet Orphans Fund, who helps to pay for veterinary services for those who can not pay. Value Vet also offers low cost office visits and their costs in general are in the lower 25th percentile. Value Vet also works closely with rescue organizations and they have rescue organization pricing.
Really? The lower 25% of all veterinary service providers in the area?
Let’s take a look at what Value Vet charged me for Lakshmi’s care:
3 sets of X-rays at $110.00 each... $330.00
C1 blood test (Antech),...............$166.18
I.V. Fluids (lactated Ringers)
($2.25 a bag at Costco)...............$ 65.00
6 “Admin. of Meds”...................$300.00
Fecal Combo/Giardia Test...........$ 51.00
The total bill was.....................$2,170.00
They did charge on the low side for items like hospital stay, $30/day, initial exam, $30, and catheterization, $28.00, but the cost of prescribed meds was average to high average. For example, Cefa drops, 15ml was $28.00.
These charges certainly are not in the lower 25% of the prevailing rates in the West Valley. $500 for a 45 minute exploratorysurgery fee alone? That is $670/hour.
Now, I was told repeatedly that I was a preferred customer getting the best price break. What would Value Vet at Canoga Park charge for the average LAAS referred animal for spay/neuter surgery? How many “extra” services would they charge and at what rate?
More from the August 25 minutes:
Commissioner Riordan requested a price list for their other services and products. Mr. McCobb stated that that list was part of the proposal documents submitted. Commissioner Riordan expressed concern over Value Vet’s high prices for optional services to the public. Since such prices can be disapproved by the Department, she asked if Value Vet would lower the spay/neuter prices to the public. Mr. McCobb answered that he could not compete with his prices across the street at Value Vet’s private clinic.
Ms. Barth reminded the Commission that Value Vet would be doing all the shelter animals. Commissioner Riordan asked what the average daily adoption is at West Los Angeles. Ms. Barth stated the average would be around five a day. Commissioner Riordan clarified that after the five animals sterilized a day, Value Vet’s services will be for the public and it is required that those prices are for persons of all income levels.
(My comment): Value Vet gets to charge the public for general veterinarian services whatever it wants after performing 5 City animal spay/neuters a day. This is a good deal for Value Vet as they get totally rent free medical clinic facilities in a brand new shelter, free utilities, free cages and surgery table. Their only overhead is surgical equipment and salaries.
What does the City get?
It gets 5 spay/neuters a day, and 2% to 3% of the gross income for years 1 through three.
Let us just look at the spay/neuter fees the West LA Value Vet will charge:
Under 25 lbs...... $165.00
25 – 50 lbs......... $175.00
51 – 75 lbs......... $200.00
Over 75 lbs........ $280.00
Under 25 lbs...... $150.00
25 – 50 lbs......... $160.00
51 – 75 lbs......... $175.00
Over 75 lbs........ $240.00
Cat spay........... $135.00
Cat neuter........ $ 90.00
Since outside contract vets are accepting City $68 vouchers for many S/N surgeries, is the cat spay price of $135 of benefit to the public? What about the large dog spay price of $280 or neuter of $240?
Compare these prices to the $25 to $55 fee for all dog and cat spay/neuters charged to the general public by Clinico.
AND, as Commissioner Riordan asked, what is Value Vet’s pricing for all their other general veterinary services? Do you think Ed Cobb will mention the $670/hour exploratory surgery rate? Recently I priced a general vet in the Northridge area re exploratory surgery charges: $440/hour ($110/15 minutes).
I might mention when I complained to the vet who did the surgery, he bragged he had charged someone the day before $800.00 for exploratory surgery.
In summary, the Value has gone out of Value Vet since it won a City contract. Ed Cobb stated a mistruth, to say the least, that Value Vet’s prices are in the lower 25% of the area prevailing.
Is anyone at the City monitoring their vet contractors’ charges, performance and complaints? What is the bad surgery and mortality rates for these contractors? How many extra services are they charging for and at what rate? Is there a mechanism by which the public can file a complaint against outside contractors like Porter Pet hospital, or on site contractors like Value Vet or Clinico?
I would remind you that the West Valley facility is miniscule and dangerously chaotic for the volume of S/N surgeries it performs on weekends, so chaotic that Lakshmi had very poor care and monitoring for four days of hospitalization. Will this be the case at the West LA City shelter site too?