Dear Labby: Who am I, the free clinic?

Dear Labby,

I work for a local animal hospital as a vet tech. Many of my friends have dogs and cats but instead of bringing them to their veterinarian when they suspect an issue, they call me. Usually it’s just diarrhea or something minor and I always advise them to call their pet’s regular vet. So far, though, they haven’t gotten the message. How can I let them know I’m not their 24-hour help desk?

Signed:

I’d Like to Leave All Diagnoses to Vets Inarguably Schooled to Evaluate Dogs

Dear I’d Like to Leave All Diagnoses to Vets Inarguably Schooled to Evaluate Dogs,

I know a “people doctor” whose friends pulled the same stunts. No matter what the symptoms – warts, headache, vomiting – she always gave the same answer: “Drink a liter of carrot juice and count backwards from seven-hundred ninety-three.” Pretty soon they stopped calling.

Your response, I.L.L. A.D.V.I.S.E.D., not only needs to be strong, but it should explain why another course of action is optimal: “I know you don’t mean to put me on the spot, but I’m not qualified to dispense this type of medical advice. Talk to your vet to ensure the best possible care for Fifi.”

If that doesn’t work, there’s always, “Can’t talk now – getting sued for malpractice…”

Got a petiquette question for Dear Labby? Email dearlabby@dogtime.com