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Just because you build it, it doesn't mean they'll come
  1. Ben Hardy, BVM&S, MBA, MPhil, PhD, MRCVS
  1. The Open University Business School, Walton Hall, Milton Keynes, Buckinghamshire MK7 6AA, UK
  1. e-mail: ben.hardy{at}

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VETERINARY medicine has advanced considerably over the past 100 years. Nowhere is this more evident than in companion animal medicine. The extant veterinary literature is replete with therapies and techniques, procedures and protocols, all designed to enhance animal health. These all depend on the assumption that animals displaying signs of ill health will be presented for veterinary care, as no amount of knowledge can be brought to bear on an animal of which the veterinary surgeon is unaware.

In a short communication summarised on p 584 of this week's Veterinary Record, Mike Davies (2011) calls this assumption into question by demonstrating that a percentage of owners would not seek veterinary attention for an older dog displaying signs of ill health. This, in turn, means that much veterinary knowledge is rendered immaterial, as it cannot be applied. By identifying this lacuna in our understanding, Davies's short communication makes a considerable contribution, as it causes us to look afresh at how optimal veterinary care might be provided.

Typically, there are four reasons why an animal is not brought to the vet. The first is either lack of funds or the perception of lack of funds. This has been addressed through a number of approaches ranging from charitable provision, such as the PDSA, through pet insurance, to practice payment plans. These all attempt to ameliorate the problems of funding veterinary care. This category of non-presentation is perhaps the one that practitioners are most alive to (Lue and others 2008).

The second category of reasons …

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