I wanted to share this article with all animal lovers. I have had some bad experiences with vets and maybe you have too. Hopefully not. I had a regular veterinarian for years and was pleased. They were in a small trailer. Then they moved to a fancy building, very nice and large. But with the new accommodations, they lost their compassion. I had a number of issues before I finally said enough. Luckily nothing as serious as the story you are about to read. I finally found another vet that I am happy with and shows compassion for my pets and truly cares. To me, this is number one! Most vets I have been to seem only to care about the bill and not about the animal. Sad, but true. I understand vets need to be paid and there are certain fees, but there is a time to be humane, compassionate and understanding when a pet owner turns to their veterinarian for pet care advice or medical NEEDS!
Guest Blog: A subtle form of cruelty and the need to be a patient advocate
from Allie Phillips Blog
From Allie: Stemming from my blog on July 12th called We Can No Longer Remain Silent, this is the second guest blog in a series that will let you hear directly from experts in the field about animal abuse and ways that we all can get involved to prevent it and protect animals. Please share your thoughts and share with others!
By Sandra D. Sylvester, J.D. Sandra Sylvester is an Assistant Commonwealth’s Attorney in Prince William County, Virginia and a certified dog trainer. She has been a prosecutor for 25 years and has been prosecuting animal abuse cases for 10 years.
What a sight-a small, frail nine year old girl and an eighty pound German shepherd named Abby walking the halls of the courthouse together. They met a year prior, when the child was preparing to testify in a preliminary hearing against the man who raped her. She was at first afraid of this big dog, but after showing her how to take the oath to tell the truth, counting to ten and teaching the child not to take treats from strangers, the little girl warmed up to this gentle giant.
A year later, things had changed and now the sight of this child and this dog walking together had new meaning. The child was preparing to testify in the trial of her rapist. She requested Abby come to the courthouse to help prep her testimony. In the year since they had first met, Abby had undergone two major surgeries and two MRI’s- four procedures requiring general anesthesia. She now had to wear a diaper due to a surgeon’s mistake. The child was told about what happened to Abby and responded by saying “It’s OK, I wet the bed sometimes too.” There they were, hand in hand, walking the halls of justice- both victims and both survivors.
As a prosecutor with over thirty years’ experience as a lawyer, I thought I was well equipped to deal with any situation that would require advocating a position or for a victim. I could not have been more wrong. When my own dog Abby needed me most to be her voice, I was helpless and overwhelmed. It is my hope by writing her story in this blog, to inspire people to question, demand and advocate for their pets when dealing with a medical community that can be dismissive and cold.
Animal owners need to be more proactive in demanding quality care for their pets. The cost of veterinary care can be significant. Most doctors require the money upfront and in cash, unless you have pet insurance. Why, then, are they held to a standard well below that of physicians? When we explored the option of veterinary malpractice, we faced resistance from attorneys, veterinarians and animal advocates. I was serving on an animal advisory committee and found many of the pet “advocates” thought requiring veterinarians to uphold a standard of care and be responsible for pain and suffering was a horrible idea. Unlike my automobile or other “property”, my dog feels pains and knows suffering. Imagine, not having your bowel or bladder emptied for nine days! Yet, that is what she endured in the care of this surgeon.
For anyone who may be aggrieved by poor veterinary care, I suggest you take the following steps:
- Pay with credit card. We filed a contest with the credit card company for poor service for the initial surgery and the boarding fees and received a full refund.
- Document everything-names of all personnel and every conversation you have. Follow up and if you live in a state where tape recording is permitted- do so.
- Demand the best care for your pet. You are paying for it. We researched everything we could about caudal equina syndrome (the final diagnosis for Abby) and learned about cutting edge technologies including stem cell replacement. I regret not being more demanding and will not make that mistake again.
- Do your research! We are managing our new puppy’s care, by researching side effects of vaccines, etc. We are now controlling what is done to our dogs and have partnered with an open minded veterinarian. If I don’t like the care my pet is receiving, I will take my business elsewhere.
- Obtain all your vet records- you paid for them!
Until states change their laws and view animals as more than “property”, the redress for inflicting injury on an animal will be difficult. Abby’s life has surely been altered by the actions of this surgeon. During the second surgery, the neurosurgeon noted her nerves had retracted. There was a chance, if the first doctor had taken our concerns seriously, that the nerves could have been resected. Abby’s life span has been shortened due to the risks of infection. I now live with the credo- “Patient Heal Thyself”. My husband and I learned everything we could about caring for Abby and quite frankly, know more than most doctors. Our regular vet calls Abby the miracle dog and shares our story with others to inspire them to not give up on their pets. He says most people would have put her down and we would never have known that she could, in time, lead a healthy and happy productive life. We researched and utilized stem cell replacement for her and have gotten wonderful results. We took the initiative and found a doctor who would partner with us in using this experimental treatment. We are glad we did!
- On this trip, animal care trumped personal hygiene (mydallaspost.com)
- Sarasota Emergency Vet Offers Free Shipping on Pet Fitness and Rehab DVD (prweb.com)
- Shop Smart: Think Twice Before Buying Medicine from Your Pet’s Veterinarian (blogs.lawyers.com)
- Holistic Veterinary Care Now Open on Piedmont Avenue in Oakland (prweb.com)
- ‘I didn’t call the vet because…’ (doggedblog.com)