Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Dog Dies After Being Refused Treatment

A six-month old puppy died a few hours after an animal hospital refused treatment because her owner couldn’t produce a $1,600 deposit.

Ryan Kerr took his mixed-breed puppy, Kila, to the 24-hour Willowdale Animal Hospital at 5 a.m. on Saturday, fearing there was something seriously wrong with his pet.

She was assessed by one of the overnight doctors who determined further medical treatment was required. However, Kerr said he was informed that a $1,600 deposit would be required before medical personnel provided that treatment.

“I told the doctor I would be able to pay for the procedure when she was ready to be picked up, but I was told nothing could be done without the deposit,” he recalled.

Kerr took Kila home and, despite the early hour, called family and friends and was able to raise the money and went out to collect it.

But by the time he got back home to take Kila to the vet, the dog was dead.

Willowdale Animal Hospital officials — citing patient confidentiality rules — wouldn’t discuss the issue Monday.

“They denied me treatment and she is dead hours later,” Kerr said. “It is tragic. The hospital could have got the money later and now I have lost a piece of my life. I have lost a family member and the most loving dog ever.

“I can’t even be at home right now because she isn’t there. What is ironic is the brochure from the hospital says, ‘day or night we are here for you pet.’ ”

The College of Veterinarians of Ontario sets price ranges for different procedures and some are more expensive than others because they require specific medications or extensive manpower time.

Kerr said no tests were performed on Kila.

All treatments are done by a case-by-case basis, said Wendy Eveleigh, the hospital’s assistant administrator director.

She says she can’t discuss individual cases and has no statistics regarding how many pets die because the owner can’t come up with the deposit.

“You have to bring your pet in for an assessment. The doctor makes a recommendation. (Any deposit) depends on what is wrong with your pet,” Eveleigh said.

It is a shame more vets can’t be more compassionate, said Martin Mersereau, director of the emergency response division for People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals.

“I have never heard of this kind of deposit unless it is for massive surgery. (As for dog confidentiality issues) what can a vet say to look good in a situation like this?

“But the bottom line is it is the owner’s responsibility to be able to look after their pet. We all have to vet our pets so you need a nest egg. Vets are businesses and they won’t look after your pet for free, but some work out payment plans.”

Kerr’s girlfriend, Janet Olson, actually recommended the hospital.

“My dog was attacked five years ago by a pit bull and needed eye surgery. They offered me pay options so I thought they cared about animals,” Olson said.

Kerr says an autopsy will be done on Kila.

kevin.connor@sunmedia.ca

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