THE COMPANION ANIMAL PROTECTION ALLIANCE : WHO WE ARE AND WHY
"Never doubt that a small group of committed people can change the world.Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has." -- Margaret Mead .
The meaning of this quote, that a small group of committed individuals can create change, is the very essence of our organization. Each of the members of Companion Animal Protection Alliance (CAPA) came from a different background and through a different struggle. Our struggle, our mission is to fight against injustice and to protect others from the pain that we have endured, while ensuring safer veterinary care for all of our companion animals.
Anyone of you could be us.
At some point in our lives we were probably all a lot more care-free and trusting than we have become after our tragic experiences changed the way we look at veterinary care. Before this sobering change, we innocently believed that our pets' lives, health and safety were in "good hands" of well meaning and appropriately trained veterinarians and veterinary technicians.
Before, if the question of what would happen if our pets ever suffered as a result of veterinary errors even crossed our minds, the answer would most likely have been: "the vet would be held accountable" or"appropriate measures would be taken." And then for many of us came the rude awakening.
We all had to see our pets suffer needlessly and/or die as a result of what we believed to have beenmisdiagnoses, gross veterinary incompetence, or outright abuse. Devastated and grieving, some of us sought answers from the vets themselves. After all, we thought (and were told) mistakes happen, and our trusted vets, the esteemed professionals that they are, would be the examples of honesty and integrity in owning up to their "mistakes" and showing us their utmost consideration in the wake of our tragic losses. Besides, our trust didn't come cheap considering the thousands of dollars we so willingly paid for our vets' services! Well, for the most part, that wasn't quite what happened, although some of us were privy to examples of courage and honesty in admitting serious medical errors, as well as a true eagerness to learn from them for the benefit of future patients and their owners. For the most part, however, the devastation of our pets' suffering and untimely deaths was compounded manifold byevasiveness, dishonesty, and hostility of the veterinarians, their staff and zealous supporters.
Then we turned to the "authorities" -- the State Boards of Veterinary Medicine charged with regulating the veterinary profession. As is the case with over 90 percent of formal complaints submitted to Veterinary Boards in most states, some of our complaints were dismissed without an explanation. The attempts to obtain explanations for what we perceived as a blatant cover up for obvious, documented errors were counteracted with statements that there is no obligation for the Board to explain its decisions, actions (or inactions rather) or reasons.
The legal system is often not much more helpful than the Boards.For one, companion animals are still considered "chattel" or "property" in the eyes of the law. If an animal, prior to its death, did not have asignificant market value, pursuing legal action is fruitless. Even recovering the costs of inadequate veterinary care can be less than certain because Judges in Small Claims Court do not have extensive, if any, experience in sorting out medical issues. Vets have unlimited access to lawyers provided by theirinsurance companies, so the playing field is not level.
So, this is the story of how we came together. We did not meet under happy circumstances. The bonds we have forged and our resolve to bring about change have arisen from our tragic losses and our sense of helplessness and injustice.
We have given each other the strength to work towards a better future in terms of safety and justice for our precious pets, all of our pets.