Home > Health Care - Dogs, Pet News > Vet clinic turns away dying dog

Vet clinic turns away dying dog

December 27, 2012 Leave a comment Go to comments

Veterinarian Examining DogSeattle Dog Spot recently posted a story on their Facebook page (“Auburn Veterinary Hospital refuses to treat dying dog”) that left me shaking my head.

According to Seattle Dog Spot, a vet clinic refused emergency care to a dog that was in anaphylactic shock. after being stung by several bees. The owner, who had rushed his dog to this clinic because it listed itself as an emergency clinic on “prominently posted signs”, was told the vets were “too busy” to care for his dog. Thankfully, the owner was able to get his dog to his own vet and the dog was saved, but I couldn’t help but wonder what was going through the minds of the veterinarians and staff when they denied a dying dog care.

It brought to mind an incident that happened at my veterinarian’s office the last time I was there with Jasper.

We had arrived a little early only to be told, apologetically, that our appointment might be delayed because an emergency situation had come up. A family had come in with their seriously ill dog (if memory serves me right, they suspected the dog had ingested antifreeze while he had been lost) and my vet was trying to stabilize him so he could be transported to the University of Minnesota. Of course, I told the staff I could wait. I was more than willing to give her as much time as she needed. This sick dog needed her attention much more urgently than Jasper did.

A few minutes later, I watched as my vet and the staff carried the dog out to the owner’s waiting car to be transported to the U of M. Then, a few minutes later I watched as my vet and the staff rushed the dog back in the clinic when the dog crashed. I waited as they worked to save his life, but it was not to be. Thankfully, his owners were able to be at his side as he passed.

As I sat there in the office, I could not help but shed a tear for the owners, their dog, and my vet. How awful it must have felt to lose this dog after despite every attempt to save him. How sad it must have been to look into his owner’s eyes and say “I am so sorry.”

Reading the story from the Seattle Dog Spot, made me realize how much I really value my vet and her staff. I already know what awesome people they are, they provide such gentle care to my three fearful dogs, but what this story made me realize is how really fortunate I am to have a vet and staff who puts the dogs’ care first. Was it an inconvenience to me to have to wait while my vet tried to save another dog’s life. NO WAY. Instead, it was an affirmation that she is EXACTLY the kind of vet I would want for my dogs.

I can’t help but wonder how the clients of the Auburn Veterinary Hospital clinic feel today knowing their vet clinic turned away a dog in distress because they were “too busy.”

I am so thankful they are not my vet.

  1. amyorvin
    December 27, 2012 at 8:43 AM


    • Mel
      December 27, 2012 at 2:08 PM

      Sadly true. I’m thinking they are wishing they had treated the dog now. Maybe some of the changes they are making will help prevent another situation like this from happening. One can hope.

  2. December 27, 2012 at 8:47 AM

    I don’t think I would go to a Vet knowing they turned a dying dog away. Next time it could be me.
    Finding a good Vet is one of the most important decisions a pet owner makes, in my opinion.

    I also would have been happy to wait while they treated an emergency.

    • Mel
      December 27, 2012 at 2:06 PM

      Completely agree Carole. Making sure you have the right vet for you is so very important. If you don’t feel like it is a good fit, keep looking.
      I was happy to wait. I would rather know that every effort was made to save someone else’s dog than worry about how late my appointment might be.

  3. December 27, 2012 at 8:54 AM

    I too have gladly had my vet appointment delayed while the vet staff cared for an emergency. I would hope to get the same treatment should my pet have the emergency.


    • Mel
      December 27, 2012 at 2:05 PM

      Exactly Cindy.

  4. December 27, 2012 at 9:00 AM

    We have had the same vet for 20 years now and we know he would NEVER turn away an emergency. And we know that because we were the “emergency” one Saturday morning about 17 years ago with our dog, Homer (now at the Bridge). Homer was seriously ill with an infection he got after being neutered. We saw the vet, Homer was given a shot and antibiotics, and we left. By the time we got back to the car, Homer had a seizure and passed out. He was allergic to the shot he had received. We returned to the vet and Homer was taken right in, leaving a waiting room FULL of clients on a busy Saturday morning. The vet stayed right with Homer for almost an hour helping him recover. Most of the people in the waiting room waited right there to hear if Homer was OK. That was quite a morning and made us even more confident that we made the right choice when we chose our vet.

    • Mel
      December 27, 2012 at 2:04 PM

      Wow Amber. Now THAT is a vet you want caring for your pets. How nice to know that you have found the right one for you and your pets. 🙂

  5. December 27, 2012 at 9:31 AM

    We’ve moved around the country and have had good vets and some not so great. We’ve also had a terrible emergency vet clinic experience. These days our vet is not the best we’ve ever had BUT he and his staff will drop everything for an emergency. He’s even met us at the clinic on a Sunday. And we’ve waited while they took care of an emergency like you did. That is priceless.

    • Mel
      December 27, 2012 at 2:03 PM

      Thanks Sue. I completely agree. Priceless. 🙂

  6. Ele
    December 27, 2012 at 9:37 AM

    This was quite timely for me. My vet and I had a difference of opinion several months ago and it ended our relationship. My 15.5 year old Giant Schnauzer was injected with BAYTRiL and I followed up at home. Immediately I realized the dog was allergic or having adverse side effects. Seizures, loss of coordination, never mind the diarrhea and lameness. Changing antibiotics did little. She was intolerant. Problem was he insisted I continue – clearly I wouldn’t. He had never seen this before so he didn’t believe me?

    Three vets later and her ultimate passing away I have to say I am both shocked and horrified by what I see in their field. I was in rescue before there even was such a thing. Have been trapping, neutering cats at my own expense for decades. I went on to a set of vets who compounded a medication in accurately; others who put her on something that harmed more than helped; another who clearly just wanted to pay off her insurance and overhead with exorbitant estimates – and the last was a man who simply didn’t value her life at all? Imagine that.

    I am sick with despair, grief but also anger. Thousands and thousands were spent – but I can’t say anyone remotely tried to help? No one cared. And it rang empty as I laid on the floor apologizing to her holding her as she took her last breaths.

    I found out the hard way that caring is NOT a prerequisite at all.

    • December 27, 2012 at 11:42 AM

      Ele, how terrible. Do you mind telling us what city you live in? Maybe others can guide you or others in your city to a good vet. We are so lucky to have the University of Minnesota nearby, and I’m happy to say that in Saint Paul, I appreciate my vets at Grand Avenue Vets. Years ago there was a decision that delayed surgery for my sweet cat, but the lump that presented in his neck wasn’t necessarily the first and he may have already been too advanced in lymphoma. It’s so easy to blame, when medicine is complicated.

      • Mel
        December 27, 2012 at 1:50 PM

        Hi Natasha

        I believe the veterinarian in the story was out of Seattle Washington. My veterinarian is in Maplewood and is awesome!

    • Mel
      December 27, 2012 at 2:02 PM

      I am so sorry about your loss Ele and for you bad experiences. I think the one thing we can all do when we first meet with a vet is to sit down with them and have a conversation about how they view pet care. We need to interview our veterinarians so we can know if we are aligned on the issues and concerns that matter most when it involves our pets. Just because we disagree does not mean they are not a good vet. It just means that you are both mismatched.

      I hope that your experience hasn’t soured you on all vets, because there are many, many awesome ones out there. One bad vet or one bad story should not be indicative of a whole profession, which is why I wrote about my dog’s veterinarian. She is a clear example of someone I would want as a vet for my dogs.

  7. December 27, 2012 at 10:37 AM

    Years ago one of our cats got attacked by the neighbor’s dog. Our own vet’s office (who had several doctors) had no vet on call (it was the weekend), and we were going to have to take her much further away to get her care. The neighbor’s vet, who was right in our town, took her in immediately. She died after a few days, but they took very good care of her and did the best they could. Needless to say, the neighbor’s vet is now our vet! (We had had other issues with our former vet’s office, and that was the last straw.) He is the only doctor in his office, and he is almost always available to us in emergencies. There has only been one time in probably 10 years that he took a vacation. We now have two emergency clinics in our area, but we have not had to use them. I cannot imagine that a clinic advertising itself as for emergencies, would turn anyone away!

    • Mel
      December 27, 2012 at 1:56 PM

      How nice you found a terrific vet too Jan! I agree. The signage had to have been part of the issue. If you advertise all over the place that you are an emergency vet, then people will think you are and assume you will provide emergency care in an emergency situation. If you cannot, then perhaps you need to stop placing the signage everywhere.

  8. December 27, 2012 at 11:01 AM

    That’s horrible. I can’t imagine that stuff still happens in this day.

    • Mel
      December 27, 2012 at 1:52 PM

      I imagine it is like any profession. There are good experiences and bad ones, and good vets and bad ones. Based on the comments in the posted story, I suspect this vet clinic was just not prepared to provide the care that was needed and handled it really, really poorly.

  9. Sam
    December 27, 2012 at 5:17 PM

    I can’t imagine our vet turning anyone away either. We even have gladly rescheduled our visit to help them adjust their load after an emergency happened (well, as long as it wasn’t anything dire).


  10. To Shea
    December 27, 2012 at 6:38 PM

    Our vet is like that too, except that she is a Mobil vet and would come to your house…for a fee of course. Most times however, we go over to her home and she takes care of Penny there….Most times whrn we call, sher can take her within an hour or 2. She does a great job too. She has also endorsed our Pet Treats….:-)

  11. Jen
    December 27, 2012 at 8:20 PM

    Aren’t…vets supposed to help sick and injured dogs? Isn’t that what they’re for? Stories like that just make me feel so sick and miserable about people sometimes.

    • Mel
      December 28, 2012 at 7:51 AM

      I am so sorry Jen. Look at it this way, this clinic is the aberration. Good and caring vets are more the norm. It just made me realize that I have an awesome vet who also has an awesome staff.

  12. December 28, 2012 at 2:57 AM

    Wow, I don’t even know what to say to that 😦 Other than that they should lose all their clients. Quite some time ago, we were turned away by an animal hospital in Toronto when we came with a seizing, nonambulate dog. I was totally furious.

    • Mel
      December 28, 2012 at 7:49 AM

      Wow Jana. They turned you away with a seizing dog? Did they say why? What ended up happening in your case?

  13. December 28, 2012 at 4:07 PM

    That is one of the most heartbreaking story I’ve heard. Unless each vet had a life and death situation it is unethical and the anthesis of the oath they take. Lack of integrity also comes to mind. If I were the owner, I would write to the heads of the National Veterinary Association and the Auburn Veterinary Hospital, and the Washington Veterinary Association.

    It is so different from the way my vet treated BJ when he was hurt. He fell and hurt his shoulder and leg and was limping. I knew nothing was broken but I still wanted my vet to look at him. I called and was told to bring him right over. They squeezed me in and yes, the next person had to wait a few minutes. She didn’t mind and when she saw BJ limp, she was glad BJ was taken first. My vet is so gentle and kind.

    There are a great many wonderful vets out there.

  14. December 29, 2012 at 10:33 AM

    Thanks for spreading the word on this story. I’ve heard from many people who said they would happily wait longer in their vet’s office so a dog is distress could be seen ahead of them.

    • Mel
      December 29, 2012 at 6:56 PM

      Thanks for writing it Robert. I think vets like this are the exception, but I wanted to introduce it because I suspected many people would feel the same way I do. I am happy to wait if another dog needs saving. It sounds like most people feel that way.

  15. December 30, 2012 at 11:03 PM

    Oh no! I would have no problem waiting while my vet attended to an emergency. My vet has always been willing to get my animals in as soon as possible. I wouldn’t see a vet that wouldn’t do the same for EVERY animal that came through their door!

    • Mel
      December 31, 2012 at 9:42 AM

      Me neither Jules. I don’t think I could ever go to a vet who didn’t do that either.

  16. January 23, 2013 at 8:45 PM

    Sad story… I used to work at a clinic and sometimes we would have so many critical cases and emergencies going on at once it was just simply chaos. Of course the clinic needed more staff to handle all of these high priority patients. Maybe that clinic had a similar situation and was just being honest. We would never turn away things like that though. Still, if you’re going to be an emergency clinic, you need to make sure you have the means to treat potential patients.

  17. Victoria Hower
    September 24, 2015 at 6:11 AM

    I took my dog Zorro to the ER and they turn me down because I didn’t have the money up front to treat him. Unfortunately my baby didn’t make it I had to watch him die. It’s like they took a knife and stab me in my ♥. Is there any thing I can do, they killed my baby.

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