(click the picture above for the high definition video - but also click YouTube for me!)
YouTube link Added 01.28.09
9:19 PM, Sunday, January 28th, 2007:
I can't begin to express how badly I wanted to avoid this. I needed space from this to get past it and constantly having to revisit it is absolutely like ripping open a healing wound. Some of you had asked how I was doing with it, and although less often, when it hits me - it still wipes me out. I am instantly in tears, I feel like my chest is going to cave-in. I miss Shizzle so much I literally have to ignore it. It's too much to take to even look his eyes in those pictures. And his video? Can't make it out of the first scene without tears.
Anyway - I had a horrible nightmare last month where Shizzle was in every scene and I would hug him and say "I'm sorry" over and over and over. Then things would move on, I'd see him again and hug him and repeat "I'm sorry" while I cried. Woke me up at 4:30 AM and I couldn't get back to sleep. I knew it was time to finally write the letter to the vet.
Amazingly, after Shizzle died, the vet sent me a $236 bill for medication I never picked up. It was a mistake that all but forced me to contact them again as I don't need my credit screwed up to boot. It was the universe's way of making me deal with the bigger problem of what they did to Shizzle. So I wrote to them on December 29th, 2006:
To Whom It May Concern:
I received your updated statement earlier this month for my dog, Shizzle, which included an outstanding balance of $236.24 (ID 89702) for medicine that was never received. I came in that day, and when I was told the price, I asked to speak to a veterinarian and he helped me realize that our biggest immediate concern was Shizzle's bleeding and I decided to wait one day to see if it improved before I started in on extra medicine for another issue. I made sure the lady at the front desk understood this and did not take the medicine. Unfortunately, however, I'm not only writing because of poor bookkeeping:
When I brought Shizzle in on Friday, the 24th , he had a nose bleed and a blood vessel had popped in his left eye causing his eye to fill up with blood. The doctor wanted to immediately put him in the hospital overnight, and I asked if we could just do the steroids and blood tests for the moment as I could not afford an extended stay unless I knew what was wrong. They took him back to get blood drawn and a urine sample. This took over 20 minutes and the vet came out again to ask if we'd consider a hospital stay. I was confused and couldn't understand why it was taking so long, but I reiterated I just wanted to see the blood results. She left again, and then another 20 minutes later we were asked to go back into the room and talk to her. She then said she'd watch Shizzle until closing and we could make a choice then. I appreciated her concern and went home.
When I came to pick Shizzle up a few hours later my girlfriend noticed his stomach was bloated and hard. I was in shock. I asked the lady at the front desk what was wrong and she had no idea. No one said anything to me on the phone other than he looked fine and we could pick him up. Again, he was taken into the back for the vet to look at him. We waited 15 minutes and again went into a room where the original female vet and now a second female vet admitted that when they tried to get a urine sample he began bleeding internally and that he was now bloated and filled with blood in his abdomen. I asked if they should try and extract it somehow and I was told that it would be bad to poke him again and that the blood would be absorbed by his body over time. That seemed reasonable to me, so I took Shizzle home. I awaited the blood results.
The next morning, and this is what has eaten away at me for a month, his nose bleed had stopped, his eye was clearing up…but now he was bleeding out of his penis. The blood results showed he had a low platelet count and some inconclusive problems with his liver which the vet recommended some antibiotics for. I said that I'd be in to get those immediately. As I described above, when I was told of the price I asked to speak to a vet because I was more concerned about the bleeding and if that couldn't be stopped I was going to put him down. The vet agreed that this was the most pressing issue, so I decided to give it one more day, as the steroids had actually fixed his initial problems.
Unfortunately that night he began vomiting blood, and the following morning, couldn't even keep water down to take his steroid medication. I called immediately to have him put down as he was in a tremendous amount of distress and I was told there were no openings. I begged and again I was told there was no way, so I booked an appointment the following morning and I asked if I could please be contacted if there were any openings that day. I sat with Shizzle all day as he was dying and called again around 3 PM asking for help and was again told there was no opening. That night around 11 PM I finally called the emergency number but it was too late. He died within the hour, and it was as painful, bloody, and unnecessary a death as I've ever witnessed.
I understand that what caused his internal bleeding was most likely a routine procedure of getting a urine sample. However, why that procedure would be done on a dog who obviously had a bleeding issue is a concern. Also, why was I not informed, immediately when it was known that something went wrong with the proceedure? I left him in your care for hours. Why did I have to pick him up 3 hours later to notice a huge, swollen abdomen that I had to point out? Why when it was finally admitted what had happened 3-4 hours before, was I made to believe that the blood would just be absorbed into his body? He bled to death internally for 2 days because of this. Lastly, how could there be no time to help put down a dog who was suffering? How could there not be 5 minutes to help someone's pet? I understand procedural mistakes happen, I even understand that everything could have been done by the book and because he had a low platelet count, this caused his internally bleeding… but to not tell me, to hide it from me until I finally demanded an answer, and then try to sell me $236 worth of medicine to fight a different problem? I'm beside myself. Ineptness is one thing, but lack of accountability is a far greater issue.
At the very, very least I expect an apology and feel I should be refunded the $358.20 I've already paid for the egregious way this was handled. I also want to know exactly what sort of procedure was used to extract urine from his bladder and believe that procedure should be reviewed to say the least as I was able to get a urine sample that night the old fashioned way - which considering his condition seemed a preferred method.
It would be greatly appreciated if you could respond to my queries as soon as possible as this is a matter I wish to find closure for in my heart and mind.
Adam Kontras
I hand delivered it to them that morning (a Saturday) and have yet to hear a word. After 3 weeks I finally contacted the person I originally got Shizzle from, Shannon Keith. Shannon is an animal lawyer and I thought long and hard about contacting her. I was just so amazed I was being ignored. How do you read that letter and not reply? I assume any response would indict them and open them up legally but tough shit people. There's right and wrong, and this situation is pretty clear. By hiding and trying to cover up your mistakes you took someone who was the least likely to sue you and forced his hand. I will now not only hold you accountable for what happened to my dog, I will shut you down. Shannon actually had an issue with this same clinic several years ago and the bottom line is: no one should take their pet there. Ever.
I'm meeting with Shannon this week to go over the chain of events that will take place and I'll keep you all updated as we go along. It really rips me apart that it's come to this, but it seems wildly irresponsible to let this slide. They're chosing to ignore me, hoping I go away. They could just as easily avoid this by sitting down with me and explaining the proceedure, how they're going to change what they do from this point on, and treat the situation with the respect it deserves. They've chosen to ignore me. And I've chosen to not accept that.