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29 Replies Latest reply: May 16, 2012 11:03 AM by Tex RSS

Can a Hospital Say, "Only Thin Doctors Can Work Here"?

porciniak Registered Users
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From Medscape Business of Medicine > Ethics: Today's Hot Topics

 

 

Today's topic is one that I think will get everybody's attention. To put it bluntly, should hospitals hire employees who are overweight?

 

A hospital in Texas, Citizens Medical Center, has said that it is not going to hire anybody -- doctors, health staff, nurses -- who is overweight. For them, that means a body mass index of over 35 kg/m2; or in other words, for a 5'10" man, if you weigh more than about 250 lb, you wouldn't get hired at this particular Texas facility.

 

So, just like people are talking about not hiring employees who smoke at hospitals or nursing homes or clinics, this institution is the first that I know of to say, "We are not going to hire overweight people."

 

Now, you might think this is illegal, but it isn't. It turns out that there are no laws against discrimination against overweight people except in Michigan, and a few cities have passed these laws.

  • Re: Can a Hospital Say, "Only Thin Doctors Can Work Here"?
    Tex Registered Users
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    Wow, I used to be 5'10" (until my compression fractures shortened my spine).  I never made it to 250 but I was really overweight at 5'9" and 245 while on Prednisone.  That's a helluva lot of leeway.

     

    Still, I am often amazed at the morbid obesity or (a term I heard on the news just yesterday) "super" obese that so many health care professionals carry.  From doctors to nurses to anyone else in the bidness, there are a lot of people working their bodies extra hard to just get down the hall.

     

    I ain't Twiggy by any means but I try to keep my weight down as I can while not being overly focused on the issue.  And I'm still putting to much stress on my body.

     

    When I was a minister, I never smoked in front of my congregations members, even those who wouldn't have wanted to lynch me for doing so.  I didn't want to set the example that smoking was a good thing.  I was able to keep that in my pocket.  You really can't keep obesity hidden away.

     

    I'm the last person to pick on overweight people but if I'm going to be told I need to lose weight, it would be more credible if the person telling me to do so weren't twice my size.

    • Re: Can a Hospital Say, "Only Thin Doctors Can Work Here"?
      pammartin Registered Users
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      First I have to address your comments, and I am going to ignore everything else except the fact you used to me a minister.  I need to read previous histories and posts in greater detail.  I always have this preconceived notion of what people look like, a minister was not one of mine for you.  How interesting.

       

      Now to address the idea a minister/clergy has to be perfect, or at least more perfect than the people they preach too....  this thought is preposterous, just simply ridiculous, even though someone went through seminary school and knows the Bible, this does not reduce the possibility to enjoy life's pleasures like every one else or the human fault to fall to addiction or overindulgence.  That being said, I find it totally amazing that people still believe clergy of any kind are removed/or should be from mortal sin and there is such a surprise when something reveals a so called fault or behavior that these church goers do themselves.  It is ok for them to step outside the sanctuary and have a smoke, but it is not acceptable for the clergy person to stand beside them.  Hypocrite just doesn't cut it, I get red faced peeved when I consider how many of these people have a boat load of no no's attached to their lives, but expect someone else to have nothing.  I knew a minister who enjoyed country music and a cold beer every now and then.  He and his wife would show up a the local tavern on band night, have a beverage, (never saw him drink more than two per evening) dance up a storm and he was never late to any of the three churches he had services at Sunday morning and afternoon, yeah three small churches either combine and share or they close in our areas.  I thought he was grand, he wasn't afraid to be human.  I am not sure what ever happened to him, he did not stay in the area for a lengthily time, but hopefully it was because of advancement and not removal.  Now off to address the hospital banning overweight people on porciniak's post.   Minister huh?  I never would have won the stuffed animal on that one.         

      • Re: Can a Hospital Say, "Only Thin Doctors Can Work Here"?
        Tex Registered Users
        Currently Being Moderated

        I'm sorry but I've been chuckling all the way through your post.  This is the first time anyone has felt the need to give me permission to be human as a minister.  I'm usually the one being told I have no business being a minister.  I didn't pretend to be something I'm not.  I cussed (mildly...saved the f-bombs for my closer friends in the church), drank (not much) and pretty much did what I did. 

         

        With cigarettes, maybe it was my own embarrassment that I participated in that vile habit.  Maybe it was a little fear of having to deal with a hassle I didn't have to when there were enough I did have to deal with.  There were more than enough of those.

         

        Still, that was my own decision.  I didn't want to set a bad example...especially for children.  It is about the only thing I've been embarrassed about in my life.  One of the good things my AML/SCT did for me was to get me off those things and I really count that as a plus.  I hate freaking cigarettes and I wasn't able to get the out of my life.

         

        However, this I find interesting:

        pammartin wrote:

         

        Minister huh?  I never would have won the stuffed animal on that one.         

         

        No reason to think I was a minister but you're surprised to learn it to be true.    We all have our preconceived notions about how people in certain vocations will act, especially within a parameter.  Frankly, the worst professional discrimination I experienced was when I spent a couple of years selling life insurance.  I finally just started telling half-truths to people when asked what I did for a living.

         

        At any rate, I didn't try to be someone I wasn't while I was in the ministry which did cause some of its own problems.  I just didn't like people knowing I smoked for my own personal reasons.

         

        Thanks for the support, though.  There are folks like you described in the church who put far too much stock in "piety."

        • Re: Can a Hospital Say, "Only Thin Doctors Can Work Here"?
          pammartin Registered Users
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          I laughed at you laughing.  The reason I was surprised had really nothing to do with what I read on here, instead is that image I see when I am reading or responding to a post.  I have always been a body language enthusiast, you can tell quite a bit about a person on how they hold their body and their gestures.  I don't have that on here so my mind goes creates a look for each person.  When imagine a minister, I see a cross between the clergyman I spoke of that was not afraid to enjoy life and the current minister of our church. 

           

          I have two separate images for you when I read or respond to your post.  Perhaps one day I will share them, but I have to admit neither included a collar or a Bible.

          • Re: Can a Hospital Say, "Only Thin Doctors Can Work Here"?
            Tex Registered Users
            Currently Being Moderated

            I'm Protestant.  Most of us don't wear collars and I am included among them.  I will wear a robe at the wedding my wife (also a minister) and I are doing next weekend.  Or, maybe I'll wear my Mexican Wedding shirt and sandals.  Depends on my mood and whether it's cool enough I might prefer the warmth of the alb.

             

            I read the Bible.  I only carry it when I'm taking it from one place to another because I need it there.

             

            I get images of people that I correspond with.  When actually meeting them or seeing a picture of them, I have been right once and wrong more times than I could count.

            • Re: Can a Hospital Say, "Only Thin Doctors Can Work Here"?
              pammartin Registered Users
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              I just want to attend the wedding you might wear the wedding shirt and sandals too, sounds like an awesome time!  Also, I think it's pretty cool your wife in a minister also, I bet you have some interesting conversations when interpreting the Bible and messages.    I have not met anyone yet, but I bet I would be so wrong if it ever took place.

              • Re: Can a Hospital Say, "Only Thin Doctors Can Work Here"?
                Tex Registered Users
                Currently Being Moderated

                pammartin wrote:

                 

                I bet you have some interesting conversations when interpreting the Bible and messages.

                 

                You'd think so.  But we pretty much agree on most of it.  Closer to a mutual admiration society than a decent debate.

                 

                Sorry, the wedding's family only.  We're the only outsiders.  The groom is our son's roommate and former business partner (they sold out...still best friends) and he's not invited.  Think I'd have a hard time getting them to make an exception.

                 

                But I think the wine's going to be flowing freely before and after.  I hope not during out of respect for the bride and groom.  But I'll know more a week from tomorrow.  (Wtf gets married on a Sunday?!)

    • Re: Can a Hospital Say, "Only Thin Doctors Can Work Here"?
      porciniak Registered Users
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      Tex wrote:       ............................

       

      I'm the last person to pick on overweight people but if I'm going to be told I need to lose weight, it would be more credible if the person telling me to do so weren't twice my size.

       

       

      KYGUY  wrote: 

       

      I once heard a nutritionist talk who was so thin that I immediately wrote off anything she said.

       

       

      We do tend to judge professionals by their own success, eh?  Who takes financial advice from a poor investment adviser?  From Jack Lalane forward we want our fitness buffs 'health role models' to walk the walk.

      • Re: Can a Hospital Say, "Only Thin Doctors Can Work Here"?
        Tex Registered Users
        Currently Being Moderated

        porciniak wrote:

         

        We do tend to judge professionals by their own success, eh?  Who takes financial advice from a poor investment adviser?  From Jack Lalane forward we want our fitness buffs 'health role models' to walk the walk.

         

        I think you're probably right about that.  The thought that runs through my conscious brain is, "If it's so important why aren't you working on it?"  I have to accept that some of us can't get skinny...I'm a perfect example.  However, when someone has gotten to super obesity and doesn't seem to have tried at all, well, credibility is an important issue of giving advice.

  • Re: Can a Hospital Say, "Only Thin Doctors Can Work Here"?
    matthew8348 Registered Users
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    I'm conflicted by this. When my mother was in the hospital she had an exteremly nice nurse who was overweight, (obese). She was really good at her job and we always enjoyed seeing her even when she wasn't my mother's nurse.

     

    However, I can understand some logic behind this. I'm thinking about what if there was an emergency situation where a patient needed help quickly and an overweight person may not be able to respond fast enough. However, normally there should be plently of other nurses who could respond as well.

  • Re: Can a Hospital Say, "Only Thin Doctors Can Work Here"?
    porciniak Registered Users
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    Yes, it's a conundrum; but I believe that this is an expansion of health insurance coverage issues.

     

    I'm seeing an acceptance of the loss of support for those less fortunate.  Thinking out loud here.

     

    Overweight? High blood lipids? Diabetic?  Smoker? Don't exercise?  No need to apply?

    • Re: Can a Hospital Say, "Only Thin Doctors Can Work Here"?
      pammartin Registered Users
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      Throughout my years I have doctored with many primary care people due to relocating, insurance changes, and other reasons, but one concept that stood out was; I am hearing I should not drink (I do) I should not smoke (I don't) I should eat well (I try) and I need to loose weight (I should).   In many cases the doctors I used to see were regulars to the local country club, they would be seen playing golf on the green with their flasks, smokes, and usually some form of dunlap (the belly done lapped over the belt), few of them were rumored to really enjoy prescription and illegal drugs but in those days that was kept quieter than it is today.  This being said I listened to reason, weighed the risks and made my own choices.  I did not and still do not base what and how I do things on the appearance of my doctors or what they do.  I look for intelligence, attitude, and someone who seems genuinely interested in my well being (why I am searching for a new oncologist or hematologist as I type) 

       

      This brings me back to the minister post I replied to from Tex; just because a person is in a particular field, does not mean they have reached beyond the fact they are still a being human.  As porciniak stated, where is the limit?  If you are diabetic do not apply, if you have leukemia do not apply, if you have had a transplant do not apply, if you have heart disease do not apply, if you have children do not apply, if you are married do not apply, holy hell the list could go on forever!   One thing though, there will be a ton of jobs available because no one will be acceptable to be considered for a position.  Yes a person should try and take care of themselves, and if anything they do stops them from doing their job, well then I suppose moving on or considering some life changes might be in order.  If a person weights 300 lbs and is 4ft tall and can check my IV, get to my room in a hurry if I go into distress, or administer CPR if I quit breathing, I don't care what they look like or even if they are purple.  Performance should be judged on the idea a person can complete the duties associated with a job, not any other factor.  I commend them for being innovative, sounds like a movie star hospital to me, everyone has to be perfect to provide service to the patients.  All they are doing is bringing forth the idea there are no laws against discrimination on weight and you bet your arse as this gets out the will be written and voted into law.  Then I again come full circle, instead of having that 300lb 4ft tall nurse who could take care of me, I will have a person who might be of the same frame but limited due to whatever reason and the hospital had to hire them because a few years back Citizens Medical Center decided it was going to start a trend.  My room buzzer is going off, my vitals are failing and the one who could have helped me did not get the job because performance was not a top priority when considering candidates for hire.

  • Re: Can a Hospital Say, "Only Thin Doctors Can Work Here"?
    KyGuy Registered Users
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    This is so wrong.  My exercise coach has a large frame.  She carries extra weight but she is in excellent shape.  She can drop into a catcher's stance in an instant.  She wouldn't fall into the category set by that hospital but she would be an example of why that policy is wrong.

     

    I once heard a nutritionist talk who was so thin that I immediately wrote off anything she said. 

     

    In my local hospital, the nurses often commented that with their schedule and the demands to do more with less, they often didn't have a chance to get much of a lunch break.  They had to grab what they could on their short breaks and it lead to weight problems.

    • Re: Can a Hospital Say, "Only Thin Doctors Can Work Here"?
      porciniak Registered Users
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      KyGuy wrote:

       

      This is so wrong.  My exercise coach has a large frame.  She carries extra weight but she is in excellent shape.  She can drop into a catcher's stance in an instant.  She wouldn't fall into the category set by that hospital but she would be an example of why that policy is wrong.

       

       

       

      Ah, wrong is it?  This is free enterprise and, as always, people will vote with their wallets, eh?

       

      With the cost of illness rising every day, why shouldn't employers strive to have the healthiest employees it can afford?  Above & beyond the visual message of 'walking the walk' any health organization that imposes policies of no smokers & no obesity will have substantially lower operating cost than those that don't impose such requirements.

       

      Now, Pam has a point that the labor pool might thin out some; however, in these economic times, which are not temporary, employers have the upper hand. 

       

      It wouldn't surprise me to see more wide spread instances of such practices in the future.

       

      I doubt that, again given the economic climate, too many non discrimination laws will be passed in the next few decades.  FGS we haven't even passed the ERA!

      • Re: Can a Hospital Say, "Only Thin Doctors Can Work Here"?
        Tex Registered Users
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        porciniak wrote:

         

        FGS we haven't even passed the ERA!

         

        I doubt we ever will.  It seems that, for the most part, the folks who said it wasn't needed, that the Constitution already considers women to be fully protected citizens were right.  I'm not saying it's perfect but I think we're seeing that bias and discrimination tend to die out over generations, so long as no one's still fanning the flame.

         

        I'd think economically hard times would actually increase the number of anti-discrimination laws passed to level the playing field.  Of course, it really depends on who wins the latest battle for our nation's soul.

        • Re: Can a Hospital Say, "Only Thin Doctors Can Work Here"?
          porciniak Registered Users
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          Tex wrote:

           

          porciniak wrote:

           

          FGS we haven't even passed the ERA!

           

          I doubt we ever will.  It seems that, for the most part, the folks who said it wasn't needed, that the Constitution already considers women to be fully protected citizens were right.  I'm not saying it's perfect but I think we're seeing that bias and discrimination tend to die out over generations, so long as no one's still fanning the flame.

           

           

           

           

          Perhaps they are right, I don't know; but it only took 150 years for us to get the vote!

           

           

          I'd think economically hard times would actually increase the number of anti-discrimination laws passed to level the playing field.  Of course, it really depends on who wins the latest battle for our nation's soul.

           

           

          We'll have to agree to disagree. 

          • Re: Can a Hospital Say, "Only Thin Doctors Can Work Here"?
            pammartin Registered Users
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            aaawwww, no heated posts between to super-impose each veiwpoint on the other.  I have been on facebook too long

          • Re: Can a Hospital Say, "Only Thin Doctors Can Work Here"?
            Tex Registered Users
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            porciniak wrote:

             

            Perhaps they are right, I don't know; but it only took 150 years for us to get the vote!

             

            I know.  I think Wyoming actually was ahead of the national curve on suffrage.  It's not perfect and it takes long times to erase this stuff...I assume it does get erased, eventually.  And there's some retro stuff going on like the meatheads in Wisconsin who have reversed the equal pay law.

             

            As far as the other, we can agree to disagree but one of us might be proven right, in time.  Then again, maybe not.

            • Re: Can a Hospital Say, "Only Thin Doctors Can Work Here"?
              porciniak Registered Users
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              As far as the other, we can agree to disagree but one of us might be proven right, in time.  Then again, maybe not.

               

               

              My viewpoint is that when the economy is tough, jobs are scarce, businesses have the upper hand and are more likely to impose any and all requirements on their employees e.g. Right to work laws - supported by a majority of unemployed and weakening unions and the collective bargaining system.

              • Re: Can a Hospital Say, "Only Thin Doctors Can Work Here"?
                Tex Registered Users
                Currently Being Moderated

                porciniak wrote:

                 

                As far as the other, we can agree to disagree but one of us might be proven right, in time.  Then again, maybe not.

                 

                 

                My viewpoint is that when the economy is tough, jobs are scarce, businesses have the upper hand and are more likely to impose any and all requirements on their employees e.g. Right to work laws - supported by a majority of unemployed and weakening unions and the collective bargaining system.

                 

                I agree.  However, my thinking is that, given the day and age we've reached, those impositions might lead to more discrimination and more people suing to have the field leveled. 

                 

                Still, I look at Wisconsin and agree you definitely have a point.  Then again, there's the recall of Walker. 

                 

                I'll be paying closer attention now that we've had this talk.

  • Can a Hospital Say, "Only Thin Doctors Can Work Here"?
    sarah Registered Users
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    i will say this. i would not be comfortable in a hospital that doesnt like fat people. since i am one!!! make mw wonder what kind of treatment a person over weight would get

    • Re: Can a Hospital Say, "Only Thin Doctors Can Work Here"?
      abramsmm Registered Users
      Currently Being Moderated

      I just want a doc who can keep me healthy and is not unbearable to work with. I don't care if he/she eats twinkies, drinks alcohol, or smokes, as long as this person can do the job and is not any more "impaired" than the rest of us. What they do on their own time is their business.

       

      I think this is more about health insurance costs (for all) than anything else..... hoping that these docs would encourage their patients to lose weight and stop smoking, or so that's the theory.  I'm not holding my breath. But if we die young, we stop draining the system of its dwindling resources (all the vices are still available, incovenient and expensive as they may be).

       

      Oncology research and practice needs all the help it can get, so I don't see narrowing the field this way (they are not hired to be athletes, fine example that they have been). 

       

      Very interesting topic and funny- until I step on the scale!  I've lost about 8 lb. and have about another 40 to go.

      • Re: Can a Hospital Say, "Only Thin Doctors Can Work Here"?
        porciniak Registered Users
        Currently Being Moderated

        abramsmm wrote:

        .....................

         

        Oncology research and practice needs all the help it can get, so I don't see narrowing the field this way (they are not hired to be athletes, fine example that they have been). 

        .

         

         

        Good point; but, our best and brightest are the least likely to abuse themselves, imho.  Though I've known an alcoholic doc or two, they are rare and it's been years since the majority have smoked cigarettes.  The big push in the '60's found most who smoked quitting.

        • Re: Can a Hospital Say, "Only Thin Doctors Can Work Here"?
          pammartin Registered Users
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          Long ago the family dentist was a great guy, he had a grand office on main street in a local town, but if you needed him after hours you called him at home, his number listed in the white pages, his wife and then in time ex wife answered, took the message and in about a half hour he would call and ask you if you wanted to come in.  One night I was in horrible pain, close to midnight, an abscessed tooth that was spreading, (in those days I only visited the doctor when drug kicking and screaming, hence why my appendix burst, but that is another story).  My mother called, dentist called back and mom and I headed about 20 miles to the office location.  He was waiting on us, his cigar was resting on the white porcelain spit sink, what I would deem a very good glass of brandy was on the utensil tray.  My mother was not pleased but said little.  He took his own x-rays, checked out my chipmunk cheek and happily decided he had to do an emergency root canal.  All he did that night was open up the tooth, allowed it to drain and put me on antibiotics so we could get the infection under control before moving forward.  He finished up about 2 a.m. then swore a bit because the country club closed the doors at 2, so his party was done for the evening.  He was overweight, smoked, drank, and in any form of today's professionalism he would have been considered a menace to society.  All I can say is that night he was a savior, even with his smelly cigar and expensive brandy breath.  If he were alive today I would still be going to see him, he cared about his patients (and his drink and smoke)

          • Re: Can a Hospital Say, "Only Thin Doctors Can Work Here"?
            Tex Registered Users
            Currently Being Moderated

            I'm just curious as to how a girl that lives at home is such a judge of brandy quality?  I didn't know what good brandy was until I was well into my 40s.

             

            It was great back in the day.  Hell, I remember my pediatrician making an actual house call to see me.

            • Re: Can a Hospital Say, "Only Thin Doctors Can Work Here"?
              pammartin Registered Users
              Currently Being Moderated

              Hey Tex,

              I guess it was the entire picture he presented.  Drove top of the line Caddy, lived in a house that was three times the size of ours and we had a two story, his suits probably cost more than our grocery total for the month, and even though I was not of age, the brandy smelled divine from the glass.  Although I am almost positive his cigars were Cuban and hand wrapped, they did not interest me nearly as much as the brandy.

      • Re: Can a Hospital Say, "Only Thin Doctors Can Work Here"?
        Tex Registered Users
        Currently Being Moderated

        I get your point.  I guess I'm thinking about the docs that actually tell us to lose some weight.

         

        Still, I had a phlebotomy a few weeks ago and the doc who ordered the pre-bleeding blood tests was severely overweight.  I guess in this case it's really more a matter of, don't they know better?! 

         

        You're probably right that it's about health insurance...at least in their (the hospital's) group.  It would be interesting to see if scaling back the weight of health care workers actually had an impact on the overall weight of patients.  I don't think we (Americans) are that subtle in our sensitivities.  But they thought subliminal advertising works...Kevin Nealon's livelihood depend on that.  So who knows?

         

        Anyway, I lost about 50 pounds when I finally got off the Prednisone.  About 10 pounds of that was because of the steroids, the other 40 just came off.  I could still lose about 20 pounds.  But it can be done.

        • Re: Can a Hospital Say, "Only Thin Doctors Can Work Here"?
          pammartin Registered Users
          Currently Being Moderated

          Oh how I hate the prednisone, I am on my second round, yesterday a young couple felt the wrath of me when they were headed in to watch a movie or eat dinner while their dog was in the car with the traditional windows rolled down about two inches for air.  Second Sunday in a row I was called so many names two separate young men in two weeks had to revisit previous ones used.  Last week I was called a hypocrite still not sure of that one, but yesterday I was called a communist, know what that meant.  I want to control, it is my goal in life to not allow people leave the poor unsuspecting pet cook in a car, even on a cloudy day because, "the windows were rolled down"  Just once, I would like to take each one of these people, secure them in the same vehicle with a winter coat to simulate the fur on an animal, and leave them sit in the car for that so called 5 minutes while the dog ran in the store.  My favorite fantasy would be in front of a Petco, or similar store, the creature and I could shop, while the owner waited for our return.  If the owner made it through the event, perhaps a lesson would be learned, if not, it is no more than the pet would have suffered had the situations be reversed.  The famous words of the day  "He goes with us everywhere, he loves to come to the store!"  These simple minded individuals have forgotten they are the ones who taught the creature to enjoy the ride, to make them excited and to show them it's a great time.  I have nothing against taking a pet in the car, my girls love to go, but for some reason this group seems to get car sick even if they are not fed before the ride, so unless it is a vet appointment, car rides are not usually a part of the routine.  In the past I have had groups of rescues that loved to ride, but I did not leave them in the car, shut the car off, or go in a store while they baked, even in the middle of the winter.

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