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Podcast #5: POINT OF VIEW: Veterinarians
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Years ago when I was in the advertising agency business, I remember well the head of a large company saying that once he spent $20 million a year on advertising and half of it was wasted—but the problem was he didn't know which half. Well, I think the same is true with veterinary expenses. Dogwood, in 2005 (and I'm really embarrassed to admit this), spent $483,000 on veterinary work for probably 70 or 80 horses. Now that's almost half a million dollars and I'll guarantee you 60 or 70 percent of that was unnecessary—but the problem is you don't know which part of it.

Now I love veterinarians, mostly, have great admiration for the conscientious men and women who dedicate their lives to working on animals. Nothing could be more impressive. It is very appealing to think of a kindly veterinarian driving through the night to go to some godforsaken place to treat an animal with colic. But it is not appealing to think of a veterinarian at a racetrack who goes in a racing barn with 40 stalls at Belmont, Keeneland or Santa Anita and he thinks of something to do to every damn horse in the barn. And who's to say that that should not be done? The trainers don't make a great effort to police this, but how could they? If a veterinarian says, "I can help this horse," or "I can make him better," who's gonna stop him from doing it?

We have some veterinarians that we deal with that are some of the most famous in the country and they are absolutely wonderful. Larry Bramlage, the great surgeon, does a lot of work for us at his Rood & Riddle clinic in Kentucky and he is one of the most admirable men in the world. I don't know how there is enough hours in the day for him to do his work. Bob Copelan, a legendary, wonderful veterinarian, supervises the Dogwood work and has for some years and I could not be more appreciative of this fine man. These are the most conscientious, reasonable people you could imagine.

But the racetrack veterinarians are where I think the problem is, and some of them do have a racket. The sad truth is that horses have gone downhill faster than veterinary medicine can stem the tide. Today we have new medication, we have the finest facilities, the greatest diagnostic equipment, but the horses are breaking down faster than ever before and they’re more fragile than they have ever been. And it angers me, it frustrates me that we spend all this money to care for our horses and the results are, to put it bluntly, putrid. I'm not saying that's the veterinarian's fault, a lot of it is that we're breeding horses that are not sound, but the bottom line is that it's not satisfactory. The inmates are running the asylum.

Again, I applaud the conscientious veterinarians, but I point a finger at those who have taken advantage and I also point a finger at the ones who are helping some trainers and sales consignors cheat.

This is Cot Campbell and this is my view.

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