Saturday, September 4, 2010

This post brought to you by...SERIOUSLY, WTF??

I see neglect all the time. It's part of my job. After reading about the 15 pound 4 year old found likely tied to her bed in Brooklyn yesterday, I should be completely unsurprised at the stuff I see. And yet, every time, I am still stunned, confused, and tongue-tied.

A man called and reported that his small dog, Peanut, had broken its leg again. This was the 2nd time the leg was broken. It had been surgically repaired by an orthopedic surgeon previously, and so an implant was present in the leg. This time, when it had broken, the owners didn't have the money to even see a vet. So, they splinted the leg at home. And left it splinted. I'm not really sure for how long. They were calling to let us know that the leg was swelling and smelled badly. Also Peanut had stopped eating and was lethargic.

We advised the owners to bring the dog in immediately. They had no money. We recommended applying for CareCredit. They were declined. Finally, they managed to come up with enough to at least see me.

When the dog was brought back to me, I had to resist the urge to vomit. I could SMELL the leg from across the room. When I saw it, I was even more horrified. The whole implant was exposed, and pus was oozing out of the fractured leg. It just dangled - purple, swollen, infected, re-fractured, and extremely painful. The poor dog would not even stand.

I tried not to get angry. There's no point, and it just makes my job harder. But I was angry. The leg was mangled, the dog sick - likely septic - and the owners had about $200. Had they addressed this sooner, with their veterinarian, this could have been avoided. Now I was staring at a dog, late on Saturday afternoon - all vets closed for the next 2.5 days - meaning the dog would need an emergency amputation (a rare thing) and intensive care with a guarded prognosis. $200 wouldn't even cover the first hour of care and diagnostics.

So I did what I had to do. Told the owners as gently but as bluntly as I could that they were looking at a huge financial investment, a guarded prognosis, loss of a limb or euthanasia. Going home with antibiotics, pain medications, and a bandage would not benefit this dog. I would be contributing to the cruelty.

Still, when I have to present these things to owners, I feel like the bad guy. ME. The owners have let the dog suffer through horrible neglect, and yet I wind up coming home, sitting here, thinking...gee, maybe there was SOME way?

Here are the options that existed:

1) Hospitalize the dog until a day practice vet opened on Tuesday. IV fluids, antibiotics, pain medications, bandage changes - all approximately $1500-2000.

2) Hospitalize the dog, amputate the leg (surgery), IV antibiotics, fluids, pain medications - all approximately $1900-3000.

3) Send the dog home with antibiotics, pain medications, and a bandage to protect the leg and hope to God that the owners actually take the dog to the vet on Tuesday - i.e. contributing to prolonged suffering in a dog that was already weak, unable to stand, and not eating.

4) Euthanasia.

Those are the real options. The owners had $200 and did not qualify for credit of any kind. I KNOW what I did was right. I KNOW that. Yet, I sit here and question...


Elizabeth said...

WTF is the only thing I can come up with.. I know whatever you did for that poor dog was the best it was going to get.. no doubt in my mind on that.

LetMeTellYouATale said...

I agree with Elizabeth.

Fi from Four Paws and Whiskers said...

There will always be morons like this who leave us having WTF moments...just pleased they at least brought it to you eventually and you put it down humanely - many might just hit it over the head.
It will still stress you though.

Pamela said...

Siiiiiiiiiiigh. I'm glad there are people like you to help counter people like that.

belovedparrot said...

I'm sorry you have to deal with this kind of thing. Some people just don't deserve animals.

Mary said...

We had a horrible abuse case of our own last week -- also with the end result of euthanasia. Very tough situation. Even though you intellectually know that's the best result, given how far things had gone, it's still really tough. Lots of tears around the shelter last week.

I'm so sorry you had to see that :(