* Is the word 'wretched' fairly common in the US, as in the sentence, "And who's paying for this wretched garage?"? There are instances on Google, but it's difficult to tell from that how common it is. The character using the word is middle-aged and a bit snobby.
* Does the abbreviation 'vet' always mean 'veteran'? Would you always say veterinarian if you meant an animal doctor?
* Would a young person ever address a friend's mother as 'ma'am'? If not, what would he call her? (This is a bit tricky because it's a translation, not an original piece of writing, and we are never told her last name.) Similarly, would a young person call a police officer 'sir'? (He is being excessively polite.)
* Finally, a slightly odd one: what would be the term for the local health authority responsible for the disposal of sick dogs? And are local authorities generally referred to as 'councils' or something completely different? (Again, it's a translation, and it is definitely the local health authority rather than some other body that's having the dogs put down.)
Thank you very very much in advance!
Edit: What would you say instead of wretched? (Assuming you were middle-aged and slightly snobby.)