View Full Version : Sucky Vets vs Awesome Vet (and RIP Hoochie) Warning: Sad

10-28-2013, 07:33 PM
It was a very sad weekend for me and my girlfriend.....we had to have one of her cats put down. Needless to say, that's a heart-breaking, gut-wrenching decision to have to make, and it was made all the worse by the uncaring vets who refused to see the cat without an appointment!

This particular cat was 19 years old, going on 20, so she definitely had a good run, but her time had clearly come. She had stopped eating, was barely able to move (at one point staying on the bed for nearly 48 hours), was no longer able to use the litter box, and was losing weight at an alarming rate.

This past Wednesday, she decided enough was enough and called the local vet. After explaining the situation, the vet's office said that since Hoochie wasn't a patient there, they had to treat her as a new patient, that soonest they could see her was the following TUESDAY, and that the cat would probably be dead by then! :eek:

Um, what??? It would be one thing to say that if the cat was healthy and just needed a checkup, or if the cat only had a minor-ailment and wasn't at the end of its life. It's quite another to refuse an emergency case. Heck, if they had just said something like "I'm sorry but we're extremely busy and can't accept any walk-ins today" it might've been OK, but they didn't. I mean, could you imagine a hospital emergency room turning away a dying person just because they weren't a regular patient there??

My GF was so upset after that call that she couldn't bear to call another vet and have to explain it all over again, so she decided to wait. Amazingly, the cat kept hanging on, and was still alive when I came down Friday evening.

Saturday morning I checked and the cat was still alive, but clearly was getting worse. She'd crawled off her blanket to the water bowl we'd left nearby, but could not get back to the blanket afterwards. I kept the cat company for a while and realized she'd lost so much weight that no matter where you patted her you could feel bone. She hadn't been nearly as thin only a week prior. Right about then she also started meowing pitifully. :cry:

I looked up at my GF and told her this couldn't go on any longer. The poor thing was just slowly starving to death. She agreed, and this time called the vet where Hooch was actually registered as a patient.....

....Only to be told again that an appointment was required, and the soonest they could see her was 4:45 that evening, a full 5 hours away!!

That was just too much for my GF.....neither of us could bear to keep watching the poor cat suffer for another 5 hours; it had been too long already. She was absolutely beside herself in tears. Since she couldn't make another call, I ended up calling a 24-hour emergency vet clinic a couple of towns away, and thankfully they said we could come right in.

Man, I'm telling you that vet was a Godsend after being turned away twice already. They were extremely professional about everything and treated us and the cat with every bit of dignity and respect that the situation called for. All of the staff were exceedingly polite and compassionate. The receptionist even offered us some water without being asked. I know that sounds minor but I thought it was a very nice gesture under the circumstances.

After it was all over they put the body in a very nice, sturdy, cardboard coffin with a comfy blanket in it at no extra charge. They even waived the usual fees that 24-hour emergency vets typically add due to the inherently costlier service they offer, billing us only for the deed itself. AND they offered to call Hoochie's regular vet to inform them that she had been put down, thus saving us the additional anguish of having to make that call ourselves.

Honestly, I don't think there was anything they could possibly have done to make the process any gentler or easier, and that's saying a lot since neither myself nor my GF had ever witnessed a pet being put to sleep before.

Seriously though, I can't get over the fact that not one but two vets refused to see us without a prior appointment. I mentioned that to my mother, who had to bring a couple of our cats in for checkups the next day, and she mentioned it our my family's regular vet, and THEY were absolutely flabbergasted. They couldn't believe that any vet would refuse to help a suffering dying animal just because it wasn't a regular patient and/or didn't have an appointment. :rant:

*phew* That took longer than I had intended.....I just had to get it off my chest. I'll try to post pictures of the kitty after I get home (it's totally dead at work right now but i can't get on Facebook from here)

10-28-2013, 07:55 PM
So sorry for your loss. Those vets need have some kind of compassion training or something that is just totally not right.

10-28-2013, 08:16 PM
I'm so sorry for your loss.

And that's one of the reasons that we use a vet whose office is all the way across the valley. Because he lives down the street from us, and he has told us that in case of an emergency, we can run down the street and pound on his front door.

10-28-2013, 08:39 PM
Huge hugs. I'm so sorry for your loss and all the crap you had to deal with with the other vets.

10-28-2013, 09:38 PM
RIP Hoochie. :(

The last one is of her dog keeping the cat company during her last days. He knew she was sick.

10-28-2013, 10:14 PM
I'm truly sorry to hear about the loss of your beloved friend. I know that's a tough decision to make, and I think you made the right one. Some vets really need to find another profession. Like a doctor, they're supposed to relieve pain and suffering - and really, how long does it take to do that, anyway? Even if it was just a quick 'wham bam', all-business procedure, it would still be a more humane thing to do than let the animal suffer like that. Much love for the vet who helped out when no one else would, and double love for their compassion to you as well as to kiitty.

I've had to make 'the decision' three times in my life, and it's never easy. Cats are wonderful, loving little creatures, and I truly believe they are just as intelligent as humans - in some cases, perhaps more so. And there are few things in life more painful than watching your furry friend
suffer. Take solace in the knowledge that Hoochie's misery is at an end, and that you gave her something many animals never know - a safe, loving home.

10-28-2013, 11:39 PM
:hug: to you and your girlfriend. It's a heartbreaking decision to put a pet to sleep; I've had to go through it far too many times myself. The love and companionship our pets give us over their too-short lives are worth the anguish at the end, but it's still heartbreaking.

It doesn't help when those who're supposed to ease things along act as unprofessionally and heartlessly as the first two vets you called. I'm glad the last bunch were so good to you. They deserve big kudos for their graciousness and compassion.

Thank you for posting the pictures. Hoochie was a lovely little calico. And the dog keeping her company...you're right, they do know. I've seen it with my previous pets. They know their friend is sick and want to offer what comfort they can. I'm sure that wonderful dog is giving you that same comfort, too.

10-29-2013, 12:17 AM
I am so, so sorry. May Hoochie rest in peace.

My vets would be outraged by the behavior of those vets. Mine are wonderful, caring, compassionate people.

At least the emergency vet people understood and actually CARED.

I know caring for pets is a business and all, but come on....

10-29-2013, 12:32 AM
I'm so sorry for your loss. I've had to make that decision a few times and it's always awful. :hug:

And I can't even begin to fathom those two vets ... especially the one that Hoochie went to regularly! I had to bring a cat in once, when it was obvious she was failing quickly, and the vet actually said to me, "You know, I think she's come to the end of her road." The vet gently advised me to have her put down then and there (I did).

10-29-2013, 03:49 AM
:rant: At least you know a couple of places not to use in the future and one professional vet.

10-29-2013, 06:06 AM
There's a vet I actively remind myself not to use because he didn't tell us of a surgeon in the area willing to do a free IVDD operation on our suddenly-paraplegic dog...which we didn't learn until AFTER we gave her up to the Humane Society.


HE wanted the money from the surgery.

So while it's different, I know how it is to hate a vet....

Golden Phoenix
10-29-2013, 03:40 PM
When our dog got sick we went to a vet who spent more time lecturing us about not being able to afford her then actually looking at her. The local animal charity paid the bill because i'd lost my job a few weeks earlier and we couldn't afford it. He said she was fine and gave her a shot of something. The following afternoon she died. We always warned people about the place after that.

Move on two years and a couple of hours away to our new area. Our kitty was hit by a car and killed. A kind lady took him to the local vets who accepted his body even though he wasn't chipped and wasn't a patient until we called trying to find him. Then they kindly stored him until we could pay (in installments) for him to be cremated, they were so kind to us when we went to identify him and bent over backwards to ensure we could not only get him back but in a lovely casket. He came back today, we're devastated but their kindness could not be more welcome. We'll always recommend them.

It's amazing how different they were, i'll never forget either experience but for totally different reasons.

10-29-2013, 05:11 PM
I am so very sorry for your loss! I'm in tears right now. I'm sorry you had to go through such an ordeal, but I'm glad you eventually found a clinic that took such good care of you and Hoochie.

Not to argue or defend the first two clinics, but just to maybe offer a bit of a different perspective, I worked at a vet clinic in high school and the vet refused to euthanize a pet without an exam. She told me it was because she wanted to make sure that was the best course of action, that the pet was actually ill and the people weren't just tired of caring for an older pet, etc. She also said that sometimes people might think the situation was worse than it was in reality and there might be something she could do to help. Not that your situation fell into either of those categories, but especially if the pet has not been a patient at that clinic, the vet has no way of knowing that without seeing the animal.

That being said, I would still expect them to show a LOT more compassion in how they spoke to you. :(

10-29-2013, 07:02 PM
Dave, I'm truly sorry for your loss. I empathize with your pain.

When my service dog was hit by a car, the emergency vet came out after doing the exam and x-rays and asked us if we wanted a few minutes with her before they put her down. He didn't even tell me what was wrong with her! When I found out it was just a broken hind leg, I was furious! The vet assumed that since it would be an expensive surgery and long recuperation that I wouldn't want to deal with it. I went to almost every vet in three cities with the x-rays to find one who would be willing to do the surgery at a rate I could afford and have never regretted it. She can't work as my mobility dog anymore (helping me get off the floor and things like that), but she still does her other jobs as my psych dog.

By contrast, when my 22 year-old cat fell down the stairs and shattered his back leg, you could see it in his eyes that he was done. The vet we called (the nearest, not our regular vet) told us to come in immediately, was compassionate and caring, and carefully explained the diagnosis and our options. While we couldn't take up the offer of having Snowball's cremated ashes returned to us (we were broke at the time), the staff made it as easy on us to deal with the loss as they could.

Redhead, you present a plausible explanation and reasonable argument for having an exam before putting an animal down -- the only ones I can think of that are reasonable excuses -- but when an owner calls in saying that an animal is dying, I would think that they would make some time to see the animal immediately, or at least refer them to another clinic. Telling someone who's claiming that their pet is dying and needs to be put down that they have to wait is just inhumane.

You would think that people would show some basic human compassion in such an emotional time, but it's amazing how much humanity some humans lack.

10-29-2013, 07:38 PM
Dave1982, I'm so sorry for your loss. Our pets truly become a part of our families. The experience you and your girlfriend had with the suck vets really made my heart hurt. I'm glad though there was one good vet clinic at least, who treated you all with compassion.

10-29-2013, 07:42 PM
I'm very sorry for your loss, it's always so hard to lose a family member. Perhaps this poem will help just a bit. The author seems to be unknown.

The Last Battle
If it should be that I grow frail and weak,
And pain should keep me from my sleep,
Then will you do what must be done,
For this, the last battle, canít be won.
You will be sad I understand,
But donít let grief then stay your hand,
For on this day, more than the rest,
Your love and friendship must stand the test.
We have had so many happy years,
You wouldnít want me to suffer so.
When the time comes, please, let me go.
Take me to where to my needs theyíll tend,
Only, stay with me till the end
And hold me firm and speak to me,
Until my eyes no longer see.
I know in time you will agree,
It is a kindness you do to me.
Although my tail its last has waved,
From pain and suffering I have been saved.
Donít grieve that it must be you,
Who has to decide this thing to do;
Weíve been so close,we two, these years,
Donít let your heart hold any tears.

10-29-2013, 07:44 PM
Post this on Yelp if you can find a listing for those vets. It's not just for restaurants. People should know.

10-29-2013, 07:48 PM
I'm so sorry for your loss.

If they couldn't do it, they should have referred you to someone who could. I know there have been a few times my vet couldn't squeeze us in for urgent-care situations and they not only referred us to another vet, but even called the other place and set up the appointment for us.

At least the emergency care clinic was compassionate. I hope that someday, when you are ready to welcome another furry family member into your heart, that you can find a regular clinic just as good (perhaps the emergency clinic could even refer you someplace).

10-29-2013, 09:54 PM
Thanks for the kind words everyone. I only knew Hoochie for about 9 months, but I'm a cat person and Hooch and I got along real well. That alone is rather remarkable since in my experience older cats don't always accept "new" people very easily.

I worked at a vet clinic in high school and the vet refused to euthanize a pet without an exam. She told me it was because she wanted to make sure that was the best course of action

That makes sense, and it did occur to me that that might be why. But as you and EE said, it could've been done a lot more tactfully. Heck, they just needed to say "we aren't comfortable euthanizing animals we haven't had the chance to examine, just in case it turns out to be something treatable." But they didn't do that, or any of the other things you guys mentioned. So yeah, not happy with them.

FWIW, the emergency vet agreed that we'd made the right decision. I think once the vet felt how thin and bony Hoochie was, and knew she was 19, she knew it had to be done. Nonetheless, she did make a point of asking if we wanted them to try and see if it was something they could fix. We declined, since even if she could be made better, she was so old that she couldn't have that much time left, and we didn't want to put her through any more suffering.

The doctor didn't argue with that. In fact, something else I didn't mention. As I imagine most vet clinics do, this one had a special private room in the back where they usually do these things. However, as it turned out another family had arrived right before us and their pet also had to be put down. The receptionist came into the exam room shortly after the vet took Hoochie out back to insert a catheter and said they were going to see if the could squeeze us in ahead of the other family because Hoochie was the sicker of the two animals and they didn't want to keep her waiting longer than necessary. :eek:

In the end though we ended up doing it in the exam room with the door closed. The other family had already been let into the private room and it was a big family so they knew it'd take a while for them to get through their goodbyes.

So yeah, I don't think there was any doubt on their end that it was the right call.

10-29-2013, 10:24 PM
RIP Hoochie, she was a good looking cat.

I haven't had the horrible experiences you did with regular vets, but I have had similar, exemplary service from emergency vets. They do cost an arm and a leg, but in my experience, are more dedicated to their patients. Not sure how widespread the chain is, but ACCES in the PNW has been a huge help to many of my family's pets.

10-30-2013, 08:38 PM
Redhead, you present a plausible explanation and reasonable argument for having an exam before putting an animal down -- the only ones I can think of that are reasonable excuses -- but when an owner calls in saying that an animal is dying, I would think that they would make some time to see the animal immediately, or at least refer them to another clinic. Telling someone who's claiming that their pet is dying and needs to be put down that they have to wait is just inhumane.

I completely agree with you there, EvilEmpryss. The vets I worked for did see emergencies. I'm not sure if they themselves would classify euthanizing a pet who has been ill for a long time as an emergency, but as long as the owner was willing to pay the emergency exam fee (twice the regular exam fee druing business hours, three times after closing), I doubt they would argue. At any rate, any individual who answered the phone at my clinic would have shown MUCH more compassion and understanding than poor Dave encountered. :(

10-30-2013, 11:44 PM
Our ElderlyCat's regular vet saw her as soon as he could, on her last day in the world. His tech (who answered the phone) told us he had an emergency on his hands right then, but would probably be free at (time).

So she did spend a few extra hours on this world; curled up in my lap and knowing she was cared about. But in a competition of emergencies, treat the one who could have a good life but only if treated NOW. Then end the suffering of the dying one.

And Elderly didn't really .. well. She was very much not well, but she seemed to enjoy the 'being with us' aspect of the last day.

10-31-2013, 01:07 AM
I'm very sorry for the loss... having just been through it recently with a rat of two years, it's a pain that doesn't easily go away.

The vet I used for Mickey was fabulous. I'd taken Mickey in for pneumonia and they did everything to get his breathing back to normal, including keeping him overnight, even though only ones there are the ones that check the boarded and post op pets. I'd gotten him the next day, brought him home and did exactly as they told me. His breathing improved to the point that he was actually breathing through his nose again and the rattle in the lungs had gone down. The second day... I found him trying to circle walk.. trying, because his hind legs didn't work the way they should. He couldn't eat, drink or brux (the grinding of teeth that acts like a cat's purr). I took him back to the vets.

I knew from his symptoms that he'd could have suffered an aneurism, a stroke or a badly ruptured eardrum.. with the pneumonia. One of his eyes kept clouding off and on and with the weight loss it was too much. I could tell he was ready to GO. I simply told my oldest that Mickey would be coming home with us... I didn't have the heart to tell him the condition he'd likely come home in. In my son's mind this rat was bullet proof, having thrown off other illnesses that would have killed the unlucky.

The vet's office was.. oh, deities, the compassion! They made sure we got the first room available, and made sure a box of tissues was close at hand. The vet told us there were other options we could try, until he found blood in Mickey's ear. I told him what my experience with rats told ME. A rat in this condition will not thrive. He'd lost too much weight to fight off everything and the eye glazing said there was likely more issues than visible. The vet nodded, told me that it was what he was about to recommend given the rat's overall condition and asked me if I wanted the body to take home and bury. Of course I did. I promised myself and my son that Mickey would be coming home. They wrapped the body and put it in the cage so I could take him home in state. I honestly think if they hadn't had their hands full with a huge dog and a couple of cats, the staff would have been hugging me. Just as well.. I wanted to get Mickey home.

Three days later, I got a condolences card from the vet... and burst into tears all over again. That was my baby rat-rat. Needless to say, I'd recommend my vet in a heartbeat. They see any type of animal and at any hour if it's an emergency. Though for really bad emergencies, they'll stabilize and send pet and owners to the emergency vet's hospital in Little Rock, where the pet can get the kind of 24/7 care they'd need.

Oh and the vet didn't charge me a dime for that visit. They'd charged me a really cheap rate for the previous visit/overnight stay, but not for the final visit.

11-01-2013, 11:40 AM
Big hugs to all.

The largest pet I've ever kept were budgies, three of them over a period when I was 11 to about 14. Bobbie, a male bright green; first with Twinkle, a dilute yellow/blue pied female, then with Sunny, a female Lutino. My parents couldn't give a crap, looking back at it. My mother hated animals. I persuaded them for so long for a bit of animal companionship as I was an only child. I did all the research and everything. But their craps ended there - they wouldn't let me bother with the vets, even though there was a bird specialist at the end of the road. Too expensive, not a bother, it's just a little girl's stupid budgie. :(

So of course when Twinkle died on my hands, and when Sunny and then Bobbie got sick, there was nothing I could do. Just be there, really. I probably shouldn't have even bothered getting the birds if it was like this, I know, I know. I was eleven. Stupid and idealistic.

Sunny died the night before we were due to drive up north to my nana's. We didn't have time to bury her...so we wrapped her up in a box and put her in the freezer so we could bury her when we got back! XD

Now they've moved four hours' drive away, they don't bother visiting me. I go to visit them - something that royally pisses off my housemate, but I like it as it gives me some privacy from my mother's overbearing! I'm doing more research, got about four books on the subject, because we may be moving to a bigger place in a year and I'm hoping to adopt a pair of cats ^^ who will have vet care!

11-02-2013, 05:03 AM
That is absolutely insane. BIG HUGS to everyone. I've had quite a few animals leave me to be at the "Rainbow Bridge" before and that's as rough as it gets.

Fortunately we have a 24 hour vet office not too far away and I don't mind the price as they have a vet who is well-versed in taking care of birds (it took me forever to find a doctor who was good with birds and Beebs loves him.) It's the very same vet office that we took our two dogs to when they had to leave us.

Gods the love and compassion from that place! And of course when I brought in Beebs with his pneumonia they all commented "Your bird is so NICE! He doesn't bite at ALL!" They just thought he was the cutest thing. Warms my insides.

My dog, Kara, was the sweetest Irish Setter ever but as an Irish Setter she was epileptic. Her last day saw over five major seizures and they were so bad we couldn't let her live like that. When her mother had died I'd promised her that I would be there for her when the time came and I was. She was most definitely my best friend and I still miss her so much. :(

11-05-2013, 10:18 PM
raudf, I went through a very similar situation with my rats. (The experience I was speaking of when I posted about emergency vets before.) We lost all four of our rats within a year. Lucy developed a head-tilt, and then pneumonia. We had her on 24 hour oxygen at the emergency vet, but within minutes of taking her out, she'd start gasping again. :( I loved our vet because they were totally willing to help me try and find/jerry-rig some sort of oxygen rich cage environment for her if we wanted to. We did, but it wouldn't have provided a very good life for her.

I've got more sob-stories, but I won't put you all through that. :) I just wanted to say how much I identified with you raudf - and how that consolation card from the vet afterward totally killed me too.

That said, I will never own rats again. They were maybe the best pets I've ever owned, but I can't handle that pain. Their lives are too short to be so lovable.