- It is unethical and irresponsible: To give free advice online or over the phone is not safe for the animal(s). Think about a doctor giving free advice or advice “off the record” and how dangerous that could be (anyone remember the Scrubs episode about this?). Sure general questions and MAYBE (big maybe) minor behavior issues can be addressed for free in the form of say webinars and lectures. But actual behavior modification and training take building a relationship with the animal caretakers AND the animals. You need to see the entire picture before being able to give safe and effective advice. Sometimes this cannot even be done with one in person visit. It can take several sessions depending on the animal(s) and the behavior(s).
- It is a legal liability issue: When you give free advice without any form of waiver, release, what have you on file for the person you are speaking with, that is just asking to have your professional licenses challenged. Many people have lost their licenses/certificates for just this. It isn’t just about preventing people from suing you if they feel your advice was terrible. It is about protecting yourself and all the hard work you had to do to become a credentialed behavior professional.
- It devalues you as a professional: This one is still hard for me to accept because all I want to do is help animals and their caretakers but seriously, free advice devalues you. You worked hard to go to college, obtain licenses/certificates, complete continuing education credits and so much more. Your knowledge and experience are worth buying.
- It is financially irresponsible: If you cannot keep a roof over your head, how will you help others?
I shared these images and this text on my facebook page. These images still hit home for me.
“This hits home. Being an animal behavior scientist is my livelihood. It is not a hobby (although I love it like it was one). It is my passion in life to help animals and their humans work through behavior issues and even prevent them in the first place with “wellness” consults. I keep my rates at a fraction of others to try and help every socioeconomic class.
In addition to low rates, I also offer rescue/shelter and military discounts. I will even teach classes and seminars for free at rescues, shelters, vet clinics, schools, etc etc. If you can provide me with coffee/tea and a veggie sub, I’m there LOL! No matter how much I give, I still have folks upset that I charge. Trust me, if I could do it for free, I would. But my college wasn’t free, My certifications were not free. My professional memberships are not free. My continuing education credits are not free.”