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Vets Holding Dogs Hostage – Threatening Death
Veterinary medicine, like human medicine, has its share of good and bad practitioners, but I have seen an alarming trend in the field of veterinary medicine. There was a time when veterinarians treated animals out of love for animals and because they cared about them. Veterinary medicine had become as bad as human medicine and even worse in some ways!
At least many people have medical insurance and there are programs for people who need medical attention. For pets, yes, medical insurance is available, but relative to the number of pets, coverage is not yet widespread. And yes, there are low cost programs, but they are mainly sterilization programs and vaccination programs.
Veterinary medicine has become ‘big business’, a revolving door, ‘bottom line’ watchers. Most vets require a 75% upfront payment for any type of surgery and if there is any doubt about paying the bill, which can easily run into the thousands of dollars, they won’t touch your pet from company. Vet visits and surgery cost dog owners nearly $800 and cat owners $500 last year, according to the American Pet Products Manufacturers Association. And that’s just an average! Few vets are willing to set up payment plans.
I’ve heard several stories in the news lately that have really bothered me, of vets holding dogs “hostage”, threatening “death” for bills. Doctors don’t even do something like that, so how can vets get away with it? Because animals are only considered “possessions?”
Josh Gomez of Gwinnet, Georgia, says his veterinarian, Dr. Garry Innocent of PetFIRST Animal Hospital in Duluth is holding his black border collie, Pilot, hostage and threatening to send him to an animal shelter where he could be euthanized.
Gomez has already paid Innocent the agreed amount of $1,125 for treatment for the puppy virus in August. The next thing he knew was that there were all sorts of extra charges that hadn’t been agreed upon. The bill jumped to $1,640 and grew day by day, with the vet holding the pup, due to boarding fees of $27 a day. As of September 14, Gomez owed nearly $1,000 more than what he originally agreed to pay to Dr. Garry Innocent and PetFIRST Animal Hospital. As a 22-year-old home music teacher, Gomez says he just can’t afford the exorbitant fees. He has already accumulated $400 on his girlfriend’s charge card and used a $750 loan from his employer.
And what does Dr. Innocent have to say about it, “He’s such a jerk, he just needs to pay his bill.”
How’s that for understanding and compassion?
On Tuesday, the vet plans to send Gomez’s dog, Pilot, to an animal shelter. Gomez filed a lawsuit in Gwinnett Superior Court this week to stop Innocent and PetFIRST Animal Hospital from turning Pilot over to animal control authorities. Her lawyer, Ed McCrimmon, claims the Georgia law is unconstitutional because it allows pet clinics to take people’s property without “due process”.
In another story from San Antonio, Texas, Jacqueline Hines rescued a tiny Chihuahua from the streets. She was just a good Samaritan, helping an animal in need. And of course when the little dog, whom she named Macho, got sick, she took him to the vet.
Hines, a 76-year-old widow on a fixed income, told the vet she couldn’t pay more than $100 and the vet said okay, treated the dog and charged her $93. Sounds pretty good so far, right?
Well, the next morning Macho was even worse, so Hines took him back, $341 more!
Then two hours later, she was back in the emergency room with her little dog because he was even worse! “I was definitely having a panic attack,” Hines said.
Here the dog had been ‘treated’ and sent home twice for a total of $434, after Hines specifically told the vet she was on a fixed income and could only afford $100. To me a reputable vet would have done a little better to determine the situation and honestly let Hines know what was wrong with the dog or if he didn’t know at least tell him he wouldn’t able to treat the dog indoors. her financial constraints and allow her to see if she could find other options. He allegedly failed to ‘treat’ the dog repeatedly, charge her and send the dog home only to have her bring him back for further ’emergency’ treatments!
This last time she couldn’t pay the bill and had to leave her little dog at the vet because of course they couldn’t let her take him home. Five days later, Hines receives a letter in the mail.
“Telling me that if I didn’t pay within 12 days, they were going to kill the dog,” Hines said.
The actual wording of the letter was, “We intend to dispose of the animal,” wording taken directly from Texas law that allows veterinarians to dispose of abandoned animals.
The vet said that contrary to Hines’ belief based on the phrase “get rid of the animal”, they are trying to find a home for the animal, not kill it!
Luckily for Hines, before her little mate could be “eliminated”, a friend paid the vet bill and now she and Macho are reunited and she can repay her friend over time.
These are two stories of pets being held hostage with vets threatening to “eliminate” them if they don’t get their money. I have no doubt that Jacqueline Hines would have pleasantly worked out some sort of payment plan with the vet if that had been an option, after all she worked out one to pay off her friend.
And here’s just one more. No dogs are being held hostage, but because the owner couldn’t pay up front, one dog in excruciating pain was turned away from many vets, even though the owner offered to set up payment plans with them to get his dog. treaty.
Loraine Standifer of Fort Worth, Texas was on the move and asked a friend to watch her sheepdog-mix, Amir. Everything was fine until one day her friend came home from work to find that someone had poured a corrosive liquid, like acid, on the dog’s back. Standifer rushed out and tried and tried to find a vet who would work out a payment plan for the extensive and expensive surgery Amir would need. The dog was in pain but every vet she contacted turned her down.
Luckily for her and Amir, the rescue group she adopted Amir from put her in touch with a vet who performed the operation and took care of Amir for free. In fact, there are still veterinarians who work with their hearts rather than their wallets.
Salaries for vets have gone up and new vets are demanding higher starting salaries before they even walk in the door. A new graduate will start at $60,000 per year. High-end corporate practices will pay even more. These practice owners earn over $100,000 a year. I know that veterinary medicine has changed and become much more specialized. I realize there are overheads, salaries, and equipment, but I also believe that medicine, whether animal or human, should be practiced with the heart, not the wallet. What harm would there be in adding a little compassion, at no cost?
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