Note: the Rainier Veterinary Hospital received Checkbook's top rating for price, among 100 or so veterinary clinics surveyed in the Puget Sound region. It also received an "86" in terms of overall care and service.
After visiting this animal hospital in person, I had a better, clearer impression than before. Even though I went there on a Friday afternoon, after they had stopped seeing clients, the hard-working staff was glad to answer ALL my questions with patience and genuine kindness.
This willingness to be of service, to be helpful is so different from, for instance, the Cat Clinic of Seattle, where clients seem to be shuttled in and out and the sense of "this IS a business," "you are, first and foremost, OUR client, and we deal in pets (as opposed to airplane parts)," and/or "we are very important, busy people" seemed to emanate from the four walls and the furniture, the smiles of the omnipresent office manager glacial, smug, bureaucratic, and forced...No favoritism based on personal peccadilloes, race/ethnicity, income, "I'm in a bad-mood," etc.
I NEVER felt that the Cat Clinic of Seattle EVER did anything in the spirit of generosity or genuine caring--it was always this "we're only doing this because we're professionals and a business." (I wasn't able to admit this to myself at the time, so wrapped up I was in my own cat's survival). And you pay through your gills for anything they do--and this includes the plastic Hills can lids that most animal clinics put in a bucket and let clients just take as they wish. Or the baggies filled with 10 food syringes or 10 Monoject needles, everything rationed and the price jacked up at least 10 times.
And this leads me to believe that the owners of a small business such as this have a PROFOUND effect on how their staff behaves, their very own attitude towards clients and their work.
I always wondered why some of the vet techs at the Cat Clinic of Seattle (A.A. degree!) could be rude and full of themselves (for what possible reason??) at times, or the office manager cheery but brusque. I guess if the owner-vets make you feel you are part of an organization comparable to the Mayo Clinic, you tend to have a very high opinion of yourselves, whatever the objective reality might really be.
Even though I didn't speak to the vet at the Rainier Veterinary Hospital himself, I was pleasantly surprised by the time the staff spent talking to people about their pets. It made them seem like MORE than just customers. In other words, there was a good balance between service and profit.
The person at the front was not there simply to ring up the cash register and make appointments--or give orders!
Though informal and relatively plain, I was genuinely moved by the non-snotty attitude. People came in and went out, no one was cut short, and everyone seemed happy to be there!
And they don't shove medications and supplies from their dispensary down your throat--they'll write a prescription for you, I was told.
Don't worry about the relatively "down-at-the-ears" neighborhood this hospital is in, or the fact that they don't have a self-promoting high-tech website. It's the PEOPLE who make a veterinary clinic a good place to take your loved one. Trust your instincts.
That is one thing I've learned from my experience now at three clinics. Don't confuse lots of hot air with genuine expertise and/or caring.
An acquaintance of mine in central Florida has said that in central Florida he just has to go down the Interstate and have his pick of animal clinics (where an office visit is $30). Guess they don't have a Washington State Veterinary Association that lobbies so arduously on the behalf of its members...
I definitely would take my cat to the Rainier Veterinary Hospital if he weren't so old and I could get him in and off the bus without making both of us anxious! Maybe I still will...or my next (younger) cat.