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ConsumerWatch: Cost And Quality Don't Always Add Up At The Vet

SAN FRANCISCO (CBS 5) - When looking for a veterinarian, you may not always have to pay more to find the best doctor for your pet.

In many cases, it's the local family run practices that rate higher than the big national chains, according to research from the non-profit Consumer's Checkbook.

Alice Clary and her daughter, Christie Clary, take pride in treating every patient as one of the family at their family-run practice. In 1968, Clary and her late husband purchased the Balboa Pet Hospital. Forty years later, their business is still ranked among the highest in the Bay Area.

"The most striking thing is, there's no relationship between price and how these vets are rated for quality," said Robber Krughoff, of Consumer's Checkbook.

In other words, people don't have to pay more to get the best vet. surveyed tens of thousands of consumers to rate 92 Bay Area vets. The rating ranged from how well the vets listen to their overall price.

Undercover shoppers also compared standard services. Prices showed a $600 to $800 difference. For example, teeth cleaning ranged from $189 to $755, and the cost to neuter a puppy ranged from $84 to $862.

Aside from price, the way to determine if you found a good vet is to make sure your potential doctor has a willingness to meet you. Another way is to pay them a visit and inspect the entire hospital, treatment areas, cages, and dog runs.

Some of the best vets even give free advice by phone.

But, the best vet hospital will make a pet feel loved and like family.

Through special arrangement with nonprofit Bay Area Consumers CHECKBOOK, CBS 5 viewers can access CHECKBOOK's ratings of 192 local veterinary practices without a subscription until Monday, May 28, 2012, and can view CHECKBOOK's veterinarians advice indefinitely via this link:

(Copyright 2012 by CBS San Francisco. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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