So I said I would start this series and I am finally getting arround to it, I was hoping to do it at the same time as I found myself a new vet in my new town but my current financial state is a tad strangling. I will get into why this is a bad thing to put off but that will be later.
Part I: Where to find a vet?
So there are several ways to find a vet and they should all be explored.
First, let your fingers do the walking as the yellow pages say, and look in the phone book. Everyone is still listed in the phone book but not everyone is online yet (why not?) and finding a nice colour ad can help you narrow down your search. Most advertisements will tell you the hours, the number of vets that work there and the basic type of practice that they have. One vet here only does dogs and cats, it's even a part of their name, they dont deal with bunnys, guinea pigs or anything other than the canine and feline clients. So if you have a household with multiple species as pets then this should be considered.
Second, keep your fingers working. Now cross check those ads for a website, this can give you a better idea as to what the clinic is all about, it will often have a tips section for pet owners and give you an overview of the staff.
Third, start chatting. Call the local shelter/SPCA/humane society and see if they recomend a specific clinic and why and if they recomend staying away from a specific clinic and why. Most cannot specifically recomend one over the other and simply asking "Who is the cheapest?" is not going to get you in their good books. Ask your friends, family and co-workers who they use and get an idea as to why they like their vet.
Fourth, keep chatting. Start calling (or visit) the vets who have made it to your short list. Ask questions about the services they offer, the price scale they have and chat them up.
Now before you start grilling these people, you need to have an idea about what you really want in a vet and clinic. Perhaps that will be next time. You should always keep yourself apraised of what is going on in the animal world and it may be great if you want an MRI done but your vet doesnt have access to one. Keeping up on new techinques and treatments is up to the pet owner as much as the vet, they do Continueing Education and try and stay on top of things but even our human doctors dont have all the facts.
That's it for part one.
Oh, that side note, you dont want to wait until you need a vet to try and find one. That leaves you open to finding who is open or takes in emergencies (not always the best time to try and find a life long vet). Having a relationship with your vet and the clinic gives them an invaluable history to work off of, they will be able to eliminate problems earlier and react faster in the times when time really counts.
I do plan to take my own advice and finally start calling vets, sometime this week or the next. I'll let you know how my short list goes.