Friday, June 26, 2009

So Sorry, Louise..........

This is a copy of the letter I sent to the animal hospital the day after Louise was euthanized..........

June 27, 2008
To Whom It May Concern,
I am a pet lover. My pets are part of my family and enrich my life immensely. I take good care of my pets and they lead a very pampered life.
Earlier this year we were faced with that awful decision that comes at the end of a pet's life. Our Collie, Sarge, was almost 14 years old. He was going blind and having trouble making it out the door in time to relieve himself. We knew the day was coming soon, but didn't dwell on it. We continued to love our old pal and clean up his messes. He wasn't in pain and we were just happy to have him with us for as long as we could. All this changed on April 12th. Sarge apparently had a stroke. His brother dog, Oscar, brought his plight to my attention and we spent our last weekend giving Sarge all the love we could. On Monday we called your facility and made the dreaded appointment to euthanize our beloved pet.
I don't remember the name of the vet that day. This was my first experience and I was understandably emotional. What I do remember is how sensitive and compassionate she was. She explained the entire procedure before she began, allowing us to say goodbye to him and tell her when we were ready to proceed. The entire staff was wonderful, allowing him to die in our presence with the dignity he deserved.
Our 11 year old Saint Bernard began refusing food and water in late June. She had been mourning the death of her brother, Sarge, and never really returned to her old playful self. She was whimpering in pain from her arthritis and this made our decision. I once again made that dreaded appointment. My husband couldn't accompany this time, but after my first experience I felt I could handle it. My good friends, who also loved Louise, insisted on going with me.
We arrived 10 minutes early, knowing I would need help getting her out of the car and into the building. I had given Louise some Benadryl, along with her pain medication. I went in to let the receptionist know that we were there and would need assistance and was told that someone would be out soon. After 20 minutes I asked again for some help and was told it was coming "soon". After 40 minutes I decided to simply leave. This decision was hard enough to make without having it prolonged. It was then that the vet, Dr. Sherry, appeared with her assistant and a back board. Fearing that they would drop my big dog and cause her even more pain, I eased her down out of the car to walk her in. She was disoriented and I was gently nudging her along when the vet decided to lasso her with a leash and try to drag her into the building. She was in pain and I could see no reason for the sudden hurry, so I removed the lead and continued our slow progress. After waiting 40 minutes, I felt that they could wait for her to walk as slowly as she needed to. We were escorted to a room and I sat down on the floor to ease her down. I ended up with her back end half in, half out of my lap. With no communication to me at all, they shaved her arm and injected her and pronounced her "gone". The assistant who had been holding my dogs head away from the vet, stood to leave and simply let her head fall to the floor. I will never forget the sound as it echoed in the room. We were told to leave when ever we were ready.
I cannot express to you how horrible this experience was. I own my own business and know that feedback--whether positive or not-- is important. I hope that you will consider my experience when dealing with grieving pet owners in the future.


As of today I have received no response to my letter. I found it harder to grieve given the circumstance. I carried guilt that I let my sweet old girl be put down in such a matter. Nothing I can do about it. I keep a copy of this letter at my desk and if asked for a recommendation for a vet, I will hand it to the person and tell them that I can tell them where not to go..............

11 comments:

ellen abbott said...

Oh gawd Kathy. I suffered a similar experience. I was horrified and helpless. Poor sweet things deserve so much better than that. I think it was you who commented on my comment about my experience on another blog. They still love us though no matter how bad their end.

scarlethue said...

When I read your first sentence I knew I should have stopped, clicked that red X up there and moved on with my day, shoving the thought of reading this post out of my mind for my own well-being. I'm so sorry for your loss. You know I'm an animal lover too, and I can't imagine anything worse than what you just explained. I would have screamed. They would have had to throw me out of that place.

I hope you've found another vet. I'm lucky to have a good one, one that knows me when I call and looks forward to Bub's visits. When he goes it will be sad for them too. Nothing like it will be for me though.

Lover of Life/ Nancy said...

Okay, the tears are flowing. I wish I would have written a letter like that. Vets need to ask what the owners want for their beloved pets, not follow some kind of vet school protocol!

My other golden had a much different experience. She went down in a terrible blizzard. The vet said he had already sent everyone home, he was the only one there - could I get her in? No. I had two small children in hysterics, I couldn't get the car out of the drive, and I couldn't lift her. Husband could not be found.

He closed his office. Drove with a plow attached to his truck up my street. Gave the first injection with me holding her, my children screaming to not kill their dog, and after a long while, gave her the second injection. He took her with him (no easy task) and sent me a beautiful card with a golden reriever on the front for $80!

The second experience was in Lake Oswego, OR, a very snooty place. And a very different experience for our second golden, for over $400!

We are happy to be back in Nevada with our fine vet, and even though it is a drive, we wouldn't go anywhere else. Bless his fine heart.

Jo said...

Oh, gosh, what a heartbreaking story. You know, Louise knew you were with her, and she knew you loved her. That is the main thing. Find another vet. You might want to send a copy of that letter to your local Better Business Bureau, and perhaps even to PETA. People need to know about this heartless vet.

Kathy's Klothesline said...

Thanks, you guys. Living in a small town does have it's benefits.... I have a big mouth. I simply let anyone who will listen know about my experience. Other than to pick up her ashes we have not been back to that facility. I had a good cry this morning for my big goofy dog, then remembered all the funny things she did and had a good laugh. She would have liked that. She would join in the fun if she could. The dachshunds howl when they think I have abandoned them and she would join right in. I watched her once through the window, she didn't get up or anything that would require effort, she just kind of lifted her head and gave a low howl with many syllables.... then continued her nap.

lovelyprism said...

That's horrible. I agree with Jo. I would have been inconsolable. *hugs

Sandi McBride said...

Even while making the best decision for your beloved furchildren, it makes it harder when you have such uncaring people...you had no reason to believe that this is what would happen when they were so good with Sarge...okay, so hopefully there is another Vet in town or even in another close by town that you can switch to. And I'd send that letter to the newspaper (letters to the Editor...oh yes, and mention the name of the animal clinic...) My beloved Doc Lawhon doesn't insist you stay with your beloved during euthanasia, but he urges you too...I've had to five three furchildren the last gift I can give them and I've been with them each time...holding them in my arms...no matter how large or small...I feel your grief sweet Friend! And your anger...
hugs
Sandi

menopausaloldbag (MOB) said...

I am sickened and saddened by your experience. How sad you must be and no wonder you have shed tears over it. My little cat had a stroke, I asked the on call vet to come to the house to put him to sleep. I could hear her banging pots and pans around as she tried to dismiss me. She said she would meet me at the vet’s practice three miles down the road, I told her no, she was being paid to come out and she could make the three miles up the road as had been promised when I talked it over with the practice some weeks before – he had a brain tumour so it was only a matter of time. She refused and convinced me that he would die peacefully in his sleep. I was so deeply upset and confused and no matter how much I begged her she refused to come out. My wee man cat died a painful death and I managed to get another vet from the practice out instead of her – bitch. He gave my cat an injection and said that his heart was so strong he would have gone on for a long time in agony. I wrote to the practice - this woman has a terrible reputation – they backed her of course and waved my fee. I’d rather they forced her out of the practice. But as you say, I make sure that anyone who wants to take their pets there is aware of what a heartless control freak the woman is. I’d say that they have lost quite a bit of business through my efforts. Hugs dear lady.

Elise said...

I can't remember how I found your blog, but I'm enjoying it! Thanks!!

SkippyMom said...

I just found your blog today and have been having a blast reading all of your posts - completely enjoying myself.

This post stopped me in my tracks and sent me crying...just weeping. I am so, so, so, so sorry. That was so unnecessary and I wish I knew the vet so I could send a letter too.

I was going to wait until I finished reading your entire blog and leave you a happy "LOVE your blog and I am now a follower" type post, but I simply had to say something here.

That is just awful and I am sorry Louise and you had to go through it. I am still weeping at the thought.

Please take care - she knows that you didn't do this and she knows how much you love her.

I am so, so, sorry.

SkippyMom said...

PS I don't know if it makes a difference in your world - but Yelp.com is a site where you can rate any business - from restaraunts to hotels and VETS - it is free to join and perhaps if someone in your part of the world is looking for a vet they may think twice before going to this place.

Just a thought - but I find Yelp to be pretty powerful in our part of the world. Get the word out. No one deserves to be treated as Louise was.

Hugs