Saturday, May 15, 2010


We live in a fairly small community that abuts / is a suburb of a very big city. Thus, you'd think I would run into people whose pets I've seen at the ER fairly frequently. That's really not the case - or - not until this past week.

We sat down at Cracker Barrel to have breakfast, and the waitress came to our table. I looked up and instantly recognized her, although it took me a moment to place her animal. It was only after about 5 seconds that the light bulb went on. She had come in with her husband and daughter. They'd been walking their small breed dog outside when a large, aggressive dog had run up and grabbed the dog - shaking it and throwing it in the air. They had no money to pay for emergency care. The people responsible for the terrible accident were not interested in paying for the injuries. The dog needed - at minimum - xrays, oxygen therapy, pain medications, and possibly surgery. They just didn't have the finances, and they wouldn't qualify for CareCredit. I had to euthanize the dog. Talk about depressing. Through no fault of the owners - they had lost their dog - the dog their daughter had grown up with. She was there (about 8 years old), crying hysterically.

The next day, I was at our local cat rescue (privately run), dropping off my 2nd batch of bottle raised kittens. I looked up to see a familiar couple. Again, it took me a few seconds to place them, and then my heart sank. They'd brought in their cute, small breed dog on Friday evening for vomiting and anorexia. At that time, the dog was bright, alert, and wagging its tail. She did have a mild fever, and her heart rate was higher than I would've liked, so I recommended bloodwork and xrays. The owner declined and elected outpatient therapy. She came back the following night, and her condition had significantly worsened. Her body temperature was subnormal, she was dehydrated, depressed, and had a painful abdomen. Bloodwork and xrays were unremarkable other than a positive cPLi (pancreatitis snap test).

I started treating her for pancreatitis, but I was suspicious. Her condition deteriorated over 8 hours. She remained dehydrated, despite fluids, and her abdomen became more and more painful. I repeated xrays, and she had fluid in her abdomen. I called the owners and recommended surgery. It was done by my colleague after I left Sunday morning. The dog had a giant liver mass and a perforated duodenal ulcer. She was euthanized on the table.

Why can't I run into owners whose dogs I've saved??


Nicki said...

One of the techs I worked with ran into a client out in public once, asked how their pet was doing and had to be reminded by the client that the pet had been recently euthanized. Ouch.

webhill said...

At my synagogue preschool office the other day, a woman I was talking too suddenly started loudly telling the story of how I euthanized her dog. She was actually calling strangers over to hear the epic tale. I nearly died of embarrassment. Especially when someone's 3 yr old asked "why did this lady kill miss linda's dog, mommy?"