I recently consulted with a veterinary practice in the Northeast that had just moved into a newly renovated, 5,000-square-foot
facility. The new building was beautiful and a major improvement from the previous location, which had been outdated and cramped.
The practice owner, a solo veterinarian with two full-time associate doctors, was a great guy, an awesome veterinarian—and
charitable to a fault.
Getty Images/Christopher Conrad
During my visit, the practice was presented with a litter of 11 kittens that the owner didn't want anymore. Add that to six
other cats and four dogs being provided charity services at the hospital, and I started to wonder how this practice could
stay in business. Turns out my fears weren't unfounded.
I discovered that the practice couldn't afford nice new chairs for the waiting room, the owner was dipping into his own retirement
account to pay the mortgage, and employees who deserved raises and incentive bonuses weren't receiving them because the owner
couldn't afford those payments. This hospital's kindness of heart was bringing about its own demise.
Now, I have nothing against a veterinary practice being charitable. In fact, I think we as a profession are obligated to give
back to our communities by helping some of those clients and pets that need our assistance. But I also think there must be
limits on our charitable endeavors. Here's how to make it work.