A segment of ABC’s “20/20” program titled “Is Your Veterinarian Being Honest With You?” caused uproar in the veterinary community.
The segment, reported by ABC News correspondent Gio Benitez, featured allegations by former Canadian veterinarian Dr. Andrew Jones that some vets in the U.S. and Canada sell unnecessary shots, tests and procedures to pet owners.
Veterinarians across the U.S. reacted with outrage, posting comments on social media sites. Some surmised that it was a typical sensational broadcast intended to drive ratings during the November “sweeps month.”
CAT FANCY’s sister publication Veterinary Practice News contacted ABC News for comment.
“A former veterinarian, Andrew Jones, is known for questioning certain practices within the veterinary profession, and has made his views public through his website and writings. He and several other veterinarians with whom we spoke told us consumers should know what questions to ask when they visit their own veterinarians,” an ABC News spokeswoman said.
“‘20/20’ is doing our part to educate consumers and give them the tools needed to make the best decisions to keep their pets healthy.”
Marty Becker, DVM, a longtime contributor to the network’s morning show, “Good Morning America,” has said his comments in the segment were taken out context.
Addressing this, the spokeswoman said, “We did not misrepresent anything to Dr. Becker, either before, during, or after our interview. And the comments from Dr. Becker that we included in our piece were presented accurately.”
Becker said he resigned from his contributing role over the incident. The ABC spokeswoman did not respond to repeated requests about his status with the network.
The segment was one of several airing Nov. 22 under the title “True Confessions.” Other segments included one on how bartenders can shortchange customers on the amount of spirits in their mixed drinks, and another detailed “supermarket secrets,” which included bacteria on shopping cart handles, rodents in some stores and dangers at the deli counter.
The episode aired during November, a television “sweeps” month. During sweeps months – February, May, July and November – the Nielsen TV ratings service samples a cross-section of representative homes throughout the United States to see what viewers are watching.
This information is the basis for program scheduling and advertising rates for local television stations, cable systems and advertisers. If a program does well during these periods, advertisers are charged more for commercials because rates are based on the number of viewers a program gets.