November 17, 2012

A bad day made worse by a terrible vet

Things happen. I had planned to spend today updating cute pictures and stories of a week spent on vacation. I think I will still do that to remember some sweet things, but that will be another day. Today I find myself at a loss. Or should I say today I am in loss.

Relay and the kittens spent the week with friends as Jeff and I visited family in Minnesota. We started the morning happily. Us greeting the kids, them getting ready to say goodbye. The girls had gotten so big, and under great care learned the litter box and were fully weened. The striped kitten was dubbed Boots, the tuxedo, Socks. Boots was clearly the lover, and while Socks also liked to be pet, she was the adventurer. As for the pups, Relay was eager to see us, and even our friend's dog who is normally grumpy, was loving the extra sets of hands for petting. It was just a happy time amongst friends.

While petting Relay, I noticed a lump on his shoulder. To my utter dismay, it was a tick. A big fat tick. I did my creeped out dance and we all rushed around like crazies trying to figure out how best to get it out. Google is a beautiful thing. It was while we were all fussing over Relay and going in with tweezers that it happened.

Socks started to yell out. We looked over to see the other dog glowering. The kitten had wandered over to him while he was chewing on a bone and he defensively snapped at her. Being just a few weeks old, even one bite was too much for the little girl, not yet two pounds. Her back legs started to spasm, she lost control of her bowels, and all four adults shared a collective moment of panic. Out the door we ran, Socks wrapped protectively in a towel, struggling to breath.

The closest vet to them was Carpenter-Pope Veterinary Hospital. As we rushed in I got on the phone with NACC. They are only budgeted for care they themselves provide and advised that we bring the kitten there. I asked for an update on her condition, but none came. I managed to stop the vet and explain that we were the foster family and the cat belonged to the shelter. The whole mood shifted. I was told tersely that if they wanted the cat, it may not make the trip. I asked for a diagnosis again, and this time I was reprimanded. On the phone still, the shelter stated that any outside care would be at our own expense. As I tried to sort it all out the vet came out with the kitten in a cardboard box. Shoving it at me, she said I owed $30 for the oxygen and that I had to leave now.

Bemused I wandered to the front counter holding the closed box that made no sounds. The vet tech was much kinder, but explained they had other problems with SPCA's and shelters in the area. She regretted the position I was in, and gave her condolences. As I waited for Jeff, the vet came out again, and this time more forcefully told me to get out. I was in no condition to argue the point and Jeff put $30 on the counter and we raced out. At NACC, we were told they had to put Socks to sleep.

While this was going on, our friend, needing something productive to do, thought to take Relay to get the tick removed by a professional. And not knowing our treatment there, she went back to Carpenter-Pope. If anything, her experience was worse. First off, they were unsuccessful getting the tick's head out so the whole trip was made an expensive waste of time. Second, despite Relay wearing his rabies tag issued this year, they required that he be given another shot. There was some arguing here, but they would not release him without one because they said the tags proved nothing. [The name of the issuing vet and a telephone number was listed on the tag along with the year, 2012. It was a 3 year shot, but even if it was a 1 year shot, he would still be covered. If they doubted the validity of the tag (which makes no sense in and of itself) they could have easily called the issuing vet and had the records faxed over.] Over vaccination is dangerous and irresponsible, and for what? a few extra dollars? Lastly, to make matters worse, when they understood that she was the owner of the dog that attacked the kitten, they proceeded to meanly lecture her.

I found out none of this, until we made it back to their house. Why they would be cruel to a woman so obviously distraught made no sense to me. That they jeopardized my dog's health because they couldn't be bothered to pick up a phone enraged me. And anger at that moment was a much easier emotion to deal with than sadness. I have reviewed Carpenter-Pope online, and am frustrated that this is practically my only recourse. That and hug Boots. Another bad day.


Oh no, how horrible, all of it. I'm so sorry.


I am really sorry about your terrible ordeal. I think you do have other recourse besides reviewing them online, though. Contact the vet registry for your state as well as the Better Business Bureau, and make sure that a lot of people in your area know about what happened.

So sorry to hear your bad news. What an ordeal. I've also had a horrible experience with a vet (though luckily, many years ago). It can make you feel so angry and helpless.

And I think houndstooth is right for the best way to follow up.

On a lighter note, if ticks are common in your area, you might want to pick up a tick twister. They're a cheap little plastic gizmo but they remove a tick easily without leaving the head behind. I've used them on dogs and humans.

I am so sorry. It's so important to share these stories so that other fur families don't have the same experiences. I know veterinarians who don't like working with shelters and rescue groups and that's unfortunate, but it's part of what we do and there's no excuse for their behavior.


Wow what a horrible story. I have worked at vet hospitals for five years as a technician. I don't think there is a good excuse for the things they did, but I'll offer my thoughts. Veterinarians get the run around a lot by people who claim they are fosters, making for a very frustrating and long drawn out process from people who don't want to pay for their services. Emergency services are extremely expensive and time consuming. Still, that was extremely rude what they did.

As for the rabies tag, it shouldn't be that difficult to call the clinic the tag was from. However a rabies tag means almost nothing. What you really need to have on hand is the actual certificate. A rabies tag is just a form of ID. And yes, some people do place rabies tags from other animals on collars. It is pretty procedural for clinics to insist on a current rabies vaccine in order to work on your pets, unless they are too ill to receive one. And by law, an exam has to accompany a rabies vaccine.

Sounds like this clinic has horrible customer service skills though. So sorry for your bad experience.

I searched and found your review. You should try to do a review on the following sites, too (if able) so as many people see as possible:

I am so sorry about Socks. That is just so heartbreaking. It's bad enough that you had to experience such a traumatic thing, but to have to deal with a vet like that is just beyond words (I can't write what I really think. I am pissed). I cannot understand why someone would become a veterinarian if they didn't want to care for animals.

What that vet did was wrong, plain and simple. I am just so sad for you, socks and your friend.

I would say that I wish I could have seen you while in MN, but I am just so heartbroken for you. :(

Oh my goodness! That's just awful! While I understand many vets run into clients that won't pay, there was no justification for being treated that way. I am really saddened by the lack of compassion that vet showed and horrified that they would insist on another unnecessary rabies shot when a simple phone call would have made the difference. Because I've had some experience with this with another dog - I do carry around a copy of Blueberry's rabies cert "just in case".

This really was a heart breaking situation. I hope Relay didn't suffer any ill-effects from the extra shot. Sending hugs.

Sending you sympathy and hugs. And totally agree with Houndstooth. Contact the vet registry.

First let me thank everyone for the support. I can always count on Lyvonne for a little kindness. I thought to take a day or so off to let things settle, but I'm still on edge.

Houndstooth, Lisa F I will continue on the 'internet blitz.'

Kimberly, Ann, Blue's mom, thanks for a little perspective. I wish if there was a bias or concern about money it had been discussed.

Pamela, I will order the twister just in case, thanks. Mel, next trip to MN will include Relay and we can grab a coffee and head to the park.

Wow... what a terrible place. :( I'm so sorry that you had to go through an experience like that and so sorry to hear about Socks. ((hugs))

You should definitely continue your media blitz. Sounds like that place deserves all of the bad publicity you can give them. :(

I'm so sorry to read about your loss and about your terrible experience at the vets. It angers me reading this because working at a vet clinic myself I can't even imagine this happening there. I would contact the AVMA and file a complaint. It won't bring Socks back and it won't take away the horrible memories that you have of this vet, but it will bring it to the attention of her peers and maybe bring disciplinary action against her.

Please consider filing a state veterinary board complaint. They are the only ones who have any authority over a vet's license. The AVMA has no authority, although you are free to write them just to get the vet/facility's name out there. For more info go to the Veterinary Abuse Network, File a Complaint page to find vet board contact info for all 50 states. We are also on Facebook. Again, my deepest condolences. Julie C., founder Vet Abuse Network.

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