First night back was fun, of course. Isn't it always?
I'm in a room talking to a client about her dog's impending surgery when I hear my name yelped out by a technician in the ICU. I exited the exam room in a hurry to find my technicians working frantically on a hit by car dog.
Said dog weighed about 15 pounds, and her pelvis was on backwards. In less silly terms, she obviously had fractured her spine, as she was completely limp from the waist down. She had bright red blood coming out of her vulva and was in severe shock. Her condition was extremely critical, and my technicians had already placed oxygen by face mask and an IV catheter.
There were FOUR adults with this dog. FOUR. The owner was in another state. Presenting the dog were the owner's father, her brother, a sister, and possibly a sister-in-law. We told them $500 to get started on stabilization and diagnostics. They declined. No money, they cried.
"Fine," I replied. "Please have whoever is making the financial and medical decisions come back here so that I can discuss the situation while monitoring the dog" (who got a whopping dose of pain medications at that point, despite the financial situation). My tech went to get someone. Minutes passed. No one came. The door alarm rang multiple times as the 4 people rushed in and out, making phone calls, standing around discussing. They consulted. No one would fill out the required paperwork, and no one would come talk to me. I stood there, tied to the patient, because my other tech was in isolation caring for 2 very sick parvovirus dogs.
Finally, the owner's brother came back. "Uh, yeah, we're going to take her (the dog) to another vet up the road in X town."
My reply, "uh, no sir, you're not. He is closed for the holiday. There are no other veterinarians open at this hour and on a holiday eve. This dog is severely injured with a guarded to grave prognosis. You either need to commit to diagnostics and treatment (what treatment options there are) or euthanasia. This dog is NOT leaving the clinic."
He mumbled, "my dad is making the decisions." I politely requested that he get his father.
More minutes pass. It has now been almost an hour since the dog presented. I have 3 patients with paying owners that are waiting for their IV catheters, fluids, and further testing that cannot be attended to because these people are running in and out of the front door, making a scene, and basically throwing a huge wrench into the flow of our small clinic. I spend another 10 minutes waiting.
Finally, I march out the front door, furious. They are all standing around. "I need you," I say firmly and point to the father. He trails me reluctantly to the ICU where I give him the same talk. He says his daughter (in Florida) is hysterical and cannot make a decision. I tell him the decision is clear if finances are a concern. It may be clear even if they have a million dollars.
"I have to talk to my daughter," he says, and out the door he moseys.
At this point, I am purple. The dog is suffering, needs to be euthanized, and not one - not A SINGLE FREAKING ONE - of these adults will step up to the plate, procure a small amount of money for me to do the humane thing (or a larger amount to do some diagnostics and confirm my suspicions).
At this point, it has been over an hour and 15 minutes, and I am sick and tired of my paying clients that need care being ignored. I march back out front and tell the whole group they need to make a decision. The sister-in-law says, "Why can't we just take her home and let her die there?"
My gut response was this, "If you were hit by a car, broken practically in two, and in shock, would it be ok if your family took you home to let you die??????" I was horrified, but I did not actually say this. I sort of wish I had.
In the end, I euthanized the dog for free. I had no intentions of leaving it to suffer, whatever the owners financial situation. They paid the exam room fee and nothing else, despite the treatment we initiated. Then...oh THEN...they had the gall to try and request private cremation afterwards - which costs $200! I told them in no uncertain terms that before we could proceed with private cremation, they would need to pay for the IV catheter, pain medications, oxygen, and fluids we had already administered to their dog to ease its pain and treat its shock.
Oh, the backpedaling that occurred then. The dog was taken home to be buried.
Seriously?? Look, I understand not wanting to plunk down $500 on someone else's dog, but for the love of God, between 4 adults ranging in ages from 32 to 75, you cannot produce $200 to do the right thing for your daughter's/sister's pet??
It was not a good start to the night. Thankfully, while we stayed busy last night, we had no other real "excitement."
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