The Dregs of Society (WARNING: sad stories)

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jeshykai's picture
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Joined: 2010-09-02

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So I think people know I'm a tech at an ER vet.  I've been faced with a lot of horrible cases and some get more horrible because the owners don't have a lot of money in the area I work.  You can't help your finances, so many times people are distraught and so very upset when they can do nothing but the bare minimum or have to euthanize because that is the most humane option when there is not ability to pay the cost of treatment.  I understand that completely and I feel for the owners because I am not a rich person by any means and depending on the dog, I may have to face similar options someday.

But the people that get me, are the ones that are so clearly stupid and cruel.  I got a phone call last week, a girl in her 20's maybe, with her friend talking in the background:

"__ Emergency, how may I help you?"

"Yeah, my cat is kinda convulsing on the ground and foaming at the mouth.  I think she ate the rat poison I put out."

"Okay, take a blanket and toss it over the cat and put her in a carrier and bring her right down."

"UMMMMM... well, like, how much does it cost to treat this?"

"The exam is $$ and if you can not afford that, this is a life threatening issue, and we will humanely euthanize at no charge."

"Can you like give me an estimate or something?" (remember, this cat is dying at her feet!)

"You need to PUT the cat in a carrier and come RIGHT DOWN" (I had no customer service skills with this phone call at all)

"Yeah, uh, well, the cat's dying anyway I think.  I'm not going to come down" -CLICK- (completely illegal, I wish I had gotten her name at least to send Animal Control out to fine her).

Yesterday I thought of Wendy when I had a lady call me to tell me her boston terrier had a puppy stuck in the birth canal.  I asked when she went into labor.  The owner said, "Oh, like two days ago.  She's already had three puppies and is nursing them but she keeps convulsing and vomiting today."  OH! Right.  Because if you leave a dead puppy stuck in the birth canal the dog will go septic and die.  I convinced the woman to come down, I brought the dog in the back, and the smell from her was so horrendous.  It took a lot not cry.  The woman of course had no money, her dog was her money source.  We at least got her to a day vet who would charge a lot less to operate and save the dog's life.  I'm hoping that is what they were able to do.  When people tell you not to buy backyard - this woman is the reason why. 

But then there are people who care so much about their pets.  I had a lady come in last week who had a pit bull intact male who she was so concerned about because he was known to be vet aggressive.  That didn't phase us.  We got him in the door, treated him with calm respect, and were able to do all the procedures he needed.  The owner was so thankful we weren't scared of her dog, that we were able to treat him, and that we cared. 

Sorry if no one wanted to read that.  I just sort of wanted to do a vent, and I wanted to share what some people are like out there.  So often we, the good owners, feel guilty because our dogs didn't get that walk today because we were tired.. or had to stay alone a little longer while we worked long hours.. or maybe have to cut costs on the bones and expensive bones.  We still love our animals and it shows through every post we do, every picture we share.  Not everyone views their dogs as family and treats them as they should be treated.

Lady Kate's picture
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Joined: 2009-10-28

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Jess... I can barely see to write this with tears streaming down my face. The courage you must have to know you might face things like this every day is something I can not imagine. What would we do without people like you who can put their emotions on hold for a while and preform the necessary procedures if only to take a bit of suffering and misery away from these precious beings.?

Telling us about it is important if ONLY to warn people away from the Back Yard Breeders who prey on the ignorance of so many.

" I've always wanted a Doberman.. they are so regal"

"My folks  had Golden Retrievers and I think they are beautiful"

" What I need is a nice mean looking pit bull to scare away the bad guys"

all reasons why people purchase these hapless pups from greeders and have no stinking CLUE what to do with them if for some reason their image of them falls short.

Then there are the greeders themselves, thinking they'll make a buck or two by over and irresponsibly breeding. It should be a crime.

I know I'm preaching to the choir here.

All I can do is say thank you Jess.. Thank you for your courage and your strength. Thank you for your ability to see through your own pain and lesson some one elses and thank you for trusting us enough to share your experiences..

Happydance's picture
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Joined: 2010-11-14

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Oh Jess, I know so well, it is absolutley heart wrenching.  It's a double sided coin, the vet has to make money to stay in business,  the owners are heartbroken.  I had the luxury of getting to the status of "Office Manager" and had the ability to work with people with their finances.  I remind you, this was 12 years ago, but one thing I did was to take a series of post dated checks from them, one a month to deposit, or a credit card number to bill once a month.  And, a phone call from me when it was due of course.  It really worked well.  We carried an AR, but we had grateful owners and patients that were alive.

As to the dumb ones, I used to go out the back door and walk a bit.  Once I almost put the phone through the computer.....

Think about the lives you're saving, it's sooooo rewarding instead of the negatives.  I remember once giving mouth to mouth CPR on a brand new baby pigmy goat.   Ewwwwww.  All the times I gloved up and the animal lived.  It's so worth it. 

My day was very easily 11 hours worth including the commute, overtime in the summer.  But, when you love your job, it's really not work.

Lady Kate's picture
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Joined: 2009-10-28

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Wendy~~ BLESS YOU!!

Happydance's picture
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Joined: 2010-11-14

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TY Kate.  Jess... I admire you with the calm energy with the pit bull.  Awsome job!  We once had a female wolfX brought in.   (why people would do this to a wild animal is beyond me).  She had amber eyes, truly wolf.  It took me about and hour sitting on the floor with her for her to trust me enough to get a blood sample for a heartworm test.  Yep, I was a bit nervous (bit??? LOL)  But the patience and calm energy won out. 

Oh my, I could go on and on with the stories about wild animals, --we were the vet for Sonoma County Wild Animal Rescue.  Some scary stuff LOL.

blue4's picture
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Joined: 2011-02-28

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I think I hear a TV show in the making!!  Wild Animals of Sonoma County.  They could put the people who did these things in there as the wild animals... Anyone know a producer???

You guys are great - thank you for the work you do and did (Wendy) for all those animals out there.  I think how people treat their animals says a lot about who they are.  Scary to think about considering what you guys said...

jeshykai's picture
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Joined: 2010-09-02

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Wendy I pride myself on my work with aggressive/fearful cases.  Today we had a shar pei come in for a foxtail up the nose.  These owners LOVED this dog called him their "first child".  He was like a wild gator loose in the hospital!  It took so much to sedate him, he would've easily munched my face off.  When he was under sedation, his growl was so guttural it reminded me of the gators you watch getting wrangled on Swamp People.

That pitt I had mentioned (named Chop!) just needed someone who wasn't scared, was in charge, and who kept his nervous mom out of the room.  So often these "aggressive" dogs are just protecting their owner.

The pace of an ER is just.. very different.  You don't get to develop those relationships with people, but I know I offer my best smile to people - even when I want to yell at them.  People more often mean well, but when they don't, I just can't stand it.

And share the stories Wendy! It'd be fun to read through and swap experiences and I'm sure some people would like to read it too.  I know I have tons more (and better!) from all the years I've worked.

sweetpea's picture
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Joined: 2010-10-25

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Wow, Jess, I can't imagine having to take those phone calls and deal with people being so ignorant...my people skills would have been right out the window too!!  You have more patience and poise than I do, that is for sure!  You are doing an AMAZING job, I hope you know that! 

In Canada with our public health care system we have no clue what the costs of medical treatment are for people, because we never see the bill.  So when people take their pets to the vet here I think the cost can be a little shocking, not that the bill is unreasonable but it can seem that way when you are used to getting treatment for free.  When Dakota had to get stitches we were a little shocked at the amount I will admit - and if you're not financially prepared for an emergency I can imagine how heartwrenching it would be to have to make a decision regarding the life of a pet.  I think all breeders and rescues would do well to inform anyone who buys a puppy or kitten that they need to have insurance or a certain amount set aside in case of an emergency.  I wish there was some way to make it mandatory for pet owners. 

Also you just gave us a great example of what can happen behind the scenes with a BYB.  Another good reason not to buy from them! 

Joined: 2011-06-21

Pet Profiles

Hope no one minds, but I've got another story that i hope will steer you away from BYBs. This story was posted by dog trainer Lisa Girox on her website.

A woman had always wanted a Labrador puppy, so she contacted a reputable breeder about available puppies. But because the breeder wasn't anywhere near the woman's home, the pup would have to be shipped in. Total cost of puppy counting shipping: $750 US dollars. A few days later, the woman saw a flyer advertising Lab pups for $200 each. The woman contacted the "breeder" & long story short adopted the pup from the backyard breeder instead of the reputable breeder's pup. The BYB pup was given to the woman when the pup was only 4 weeks old. The woman & her pup went to Lisa both for a puppy training class & to treat the pup's issues with bite inhibition. A holiday break was taken for those in the class. Lisa said when she saw the Lab pup again, she didn't recognize him. Instead of walking straight & strong like a normal puppy, he would walk with a odd hopping/limping gait. He couldn't run or jump. Tests revealed he had severe hip displaysia, & Lisa suggested the dog be immediately euthanized. Lisa contacted the "breeder", reporting the issue. The woman's last words? "M dogs are fine, mind your own business."

Sigh. People. This is why I hesitate to become a dog trainer, I have an extremely short temper & I don't do well with people sometimes.