I’ve always joked that someday I’m going to write a book titled “The Big Book of Unbelievably Scary Shit That Will Inevitably Happen to You if You Breed Dogs Long Enough”. If I ever do, this incident will be chapter 915.
I noticed two weeks ago that Teddy’s hernia was larger than what I’d consider to be “normal”. I’ve seen quite a few hernias over the years, none of which have worried me – until this one. Concerned, I called my vet clinic (a fairly new clinic for us, I should add) and asked about having it corrected. They didn’t want to even see him – they told me that they NEVER correct hernias in a five week old puppy.
We’d had problems with Teddy’s umbilical since birth, a fact I attribute to the clinic not having clamped (or even tied off) the pups umbilical cords at birth. At two days, I was on the phone with the clinic telling them his umbilical was too open – they told me to apply iodine. At less than a week, I had him in the clinic, so that they could see his umbilical was so open you could see his abdominal wall.
Their solution? Liquid bandage. I was surprised that they didn’t want to stitch it – I even asked if they didn’t want to do a purse string repair. They told me no, that the margins of the opening were too healed over, and to leave it be.
Since I’m not a vet, I acquiesced to their professional opinions, even if I had some doubts.
Monday night after dinner, I popped in to see the pups, and found blood splattered all over the bedding. Teddy had two inches of tissue poking out of his hernia, and it was bleeding. As you can imagine, I panicked – wrapped him in a bandage, called the vet and headed for the clinic.
I arrived to see my least favorite vet – the one who has always seemed to have little confidence in his own skills. His reaction when he unwrapped Teddy’s bandage confirmed this – instead of looking at him like a diagnostician should be expected to, he grimaced and recoiled, not even examining the puppy beyond that cursory glance.
I asked him what he was going to do to treat it, and he responded “That’s intestine, and it’s necrotic. There’s nothing we can do”. I insisted that there had to be SOMETHING he could do, and he replied that I had to “think about the well being of the puppy”. I again said “I don’t even want to TALK about anything other than what he planned to do to fix his hernia”, and he again insisted “the prognosis isn’t good, and you need to think about what is best for this puppy” – basically saying, in effect, that we should put him to sleep, without even attempting surgery.
At this point Sean, who was thankfully there with me, yelled at the vet “If you’re not capable of fixing this, just tell us, so we can go someplace else where they can”.
Again, the vet said we ‘weren’t listening to the prognosis’, and again Sean asked him “Are you or aren’t you capable of fixing this?”. At that point, the vet reluctantly said “Well, you might as well take him someplace else”, to which I said we’d take him to the University, so please call there and let them know we’re coming. He agreed, but then told us “you have about an hour to get there, or it will be too late”.
Guelph is a one and half hour drive from the clinic we were at, so you can imagine our panic. Sue Simon can tell you – I phoned her from the road, to ask her help in reaching Teddy’s co owner, and was too incoherent to even talk. Thank God Sean was holding it together, and thank God Hope and Sue were there to help us.
As I took the puppy to the car, Sean stayed behind to make sure the vet called the University – a good thing, since he wasn’t exactly rushing to get them on the phone. Sean yelled at him to hurry up and call them, and said that if anything happened to Teddy, he’d better hope he had a good lawyer.
We managed the drive in an hour, and arrived at the small animal clinic at Guelph. They took a short history, and then took Teddy in the back for examination.
Five minutes later, we had a NEW answer – instead of necrotic intestine, Teddy had a little bit of fat hanging out of his hernia. Instead of a dying puppy, we had a puppy who was going to be just fine. In fact, we could have had the operation done at any skilled, experienced vet clinic, by almost any experienced, skilled veterinarian. When we told the veterinary surgeons at Guelph that our first vet had insisted that it was in Teddy’s ‘best interest’ to put him down, they were shocked. Even if it had been intestine, that fact that it was still healthy and pink, and that Teddy was alert and playful, should have been a sign that it wasn’t necrotic – and fixing it was still a relatively simple operation.
It’s this sort of blatant veterinary incompetence that scares me when it’s time to send my puppies home. What pet owner, with no experience, would have known enough to ignore a vet telling them to euthanize a puppy ‘for its own good’? Would a novice breeder know enough to be able to decide that their puppy was not even CLOSE to being sick enough to put down?
If I’d listened to him, instead of stubbornly insisting he was wrong, Teddy would be dead now.
Teddy is back home now – none the worse for the wear, and with his hernia fixed. We’ll be filing a complaint with the OVMA, and I won’t rest until the original vet is, at the very least censured.
If I have my way, he’ll be suspended.
More photos of Teddy, just home from the University, are here – http://www.flickr.com/photos/frenchbulldogs/sets/72157623732734569/