A friend of mine had reason to take her young dog to the vet on a recent Sunday evening. Her local vet advised that the symptoms indicated that the dog had a mass in her stomach and should be taken to the after hours emergency vet. The consulting vet there, after an x-ray and noting my friend’s advice that the dog had the usual puppy habit of chewing socks, diagnosed the mass in the dog’s stomach as likely to be a sock. She/he advised that emergency surgery was required and that without it, the dog would die. Costs were discussed, and the vet undertook to cap the cost at $2,200. Surgery was undertaken immediately. My friend was advised to collect the dog no later than 7.30am on Monday and take it to her usual vet for follow up care.
My friend received a phone call later in the evening to report that the vet had in fact found dog food in the dog’s stomach. The dog food was in the form of dog biscuits, and ‘seven spoons full’ had been removed. The dog is a medium sized puppy, a spaniel cross, say about twice the height of my jack Russell and very long (with BIG feet).
On being presented with the bill, she saw that it was for $2,500. She protested to the receptionist, advising of her agreement in writing with the vet of the $2,200 cap, but was ignored. Literally ignored – the receptionist neither acknowledged that she’d spoken nor reviewed the bill.
So, a couple of issues here. Was an excess of dog food life threatening? Possibly so, but I’m not a vet. A sock, definitely. Was a considered diagnosis made, or were assumptions made that a puppy had done what puppies do and surgery undertaken a little too readily?
The cost. A large amount in anyone’s world. Yes, it was Sunday, and I’m very thankful that vets are ready to provide emergency services. But based on vet care I’ve received over many years for my dogs, that’s still a huge amount (and for regular readers, that includes Feral’s recent general anaesthetic for some dental work – he’s got a lovely, albeit gappy, smile now).
I’m really interested to hear of people’s views and experiences. In the meantime, the pup in question is now home, fit and well, and wondering what all the fuss was about. And just a quick message from our sponsors – 20 August is RSPCA cupcake day. Donate by baking or eating – both are good.