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Veterinary Care Unlimited / A Betrayal Of Trust

8409 Rockaway BlvdNew York, NY, United States Review updated:
Contact information:
Phone: (718) 296-7700
I recently took my beloved 8 year old pet bird "Mighty" to Veterinary Care Unlimited in Ozone Park, to be examined for a slightly swollen abdomen. I was told by Dr. Theresa Paoloni, the veterinarian in charge and clinic's owner, to bring my pet back the next morning for testing. That morning, my pet had eaten, and his behavior was normal —singing, flying, and playing.

Because of the clinic's overbooked schedule, I had to leave him there all day for an just an X-ray and a blood test. My pet was not released until 7pm that evening. I tried to speak to the doctor several times to discuss the results of the tests but was unable to.

It wasn't until I brought him home that I noticed that he was extremely, and very noticeably dehydrated, and disoriented. It was evident to me that he had not eaten or had drank anything all day. It seemed the clinic had not even checked my pet's, and also just before discharge.

That evening his condition started deteriorating rapidly, and died only three hours after discharge. He suffered for the last thirty minutes of his life. When Dr. Paoloni/Veterinary Care Unlimited was notified that my pet had died, her only response was that the bird was very sick, and hung up on me! If as she claims he was very sick, why were such stressful tests performed? Why was immediate hospitalization not advised? Why was an oral antibiotic— to be administered at home—the only treatment provided with a follow-up visit two days later?

It is the clinic's responsibility to ensure quality care and to monitor every pet's condition while in its care. I believe that my pet's death was caused and precipitated by improper care and monitoring by Dr. Paoloni/ Veterinary Care Unlimited. Negligence and malpractice, and a lack of communication played a critical role in the death of my pet.

After requesting the medical reports for two months I had to file a subpoena in court to be able to retrieve them. These records showed discrepancies and misstatements as to what happened. A Board Certified Avian Vet examined the medical records and concluded that blatant errors, and misdiagnoses were made. I tried to take this my case to Small Claims Court but unfortunately this vet was not able to appear in court as my expert witness.

I feel it is only a matter of time before this happens again to other pets at this clinic. I will always wonder if Mighty would still be alive today if he had been taken care of differently.


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  2nd of Apr, 2008
Agree Disagree +2 Votes
I'm sorry for your loss. The staff are nice enough at VCU, but I'm not sure how qualified they are to watch over the pets that are being boarded there, or after a surgery. One problem is that the vets and staff are way too busy to be able handle the number pets that are being seen. Unfortunately I've heard of this happening to others at this clinic. I would definitely not recommend bringing my pet to this clinic.

  15th of Apr, 2008
Agree Disagree +2 Votes
I agree with Thomas about this. I live in the neighborhood and usually accompanied friends and their pets to this vet office. The staff is nice but the manager (I think her name is Ria? Rhea?sp) can be very mean to the staff and abrupt with clients who complain about the long wait and poor service. The receptionists are trained to be very aggressive in selling additional products and procedures, which i'm sure is not their place bec. they are not vetrinarians or vet tech. There is a bad odor in the waiting area where i spent many hours waiting for neighbors, i think it's taken for granted and the staff cannot smell it anymore? Inside the decor was old and dirty and facilities could be improved/updated. The techs are sweet but very young and inexperienced, i met a few decent technicians/asst but somehow i think this place cannot keep good employees 'coz of the work conditions and manager's constant yelling (you can hear it through the doors!). It's funny but it's sad for the animals and the owners of the pet's because they think they are paying for good service but it's not very nice. I would never bring my pet here, but that's just my opinion and everyone is welcome to try it out and form there own. BR
  16th of Apr, 2008
Agree Disagree +2 Votes
I agree with the previous postings: VCU's staff is very young and I believe inexperienced.

Before Mighty was discharged I repeatedly asked to see Dr. Paoloni because I was concerned about his condition, I was told she was not available. Sure, she was just too busy! It took almost two months of calling almost every day and a subpoena from a court judge for her to even release the medical records. When I received the records I noticed that there were discrepancies, and what I believe was false information.

I was afraid of this happening to other pets at VCU. Sure enough, I was recently contacted by someone who also lost a beloved pet soon after a visit to VCU under very similar circumstances.
  29th of Jul, 2008
Agree Disagree +2 Votes
Avoid this clinic like the plague!

There has been a rash of mysterious death of pets at this clinic. They are known for taking on more appointments than they can possibly care for. In so doing the pets are either abandoned or neglected quality care. The Doctors are always in a rush and too busy to talk and spend time with you and your pet. Avoid this clinic if you love your pet.

  7th of Aug, 2008
Agree Disagree 0 Votes
I used to bring all my animals there but started to notice how they cared less about your animal and more about pushing there products on you.

A friend told me about ozone park animal clinic and I love it the vet is the best he spends alot of time with your animal and explains everything to you and youdon't even need and appointment just walk in during his hours. He takes the best care your pets. He is also located on Rockaway blvd. right next to adequat race track.
  25th of Sep, 2008
Agree Disagree 0 Votes
I am a former client who experienced drastic employee turnover at this practice and know that all the caring old-timers are gone. If you are a client of this clinic or want to check it out, do yourself a favor and simply ask their vet techs how long they have been licensed. You will find out that they are barely out of school or are not licensed at all. I did!! Only the vet is knowledgeable in this practice, yet 95% of the time you leave your pets in the hands of incompetent staff and management. Another thing, ask where their surgery room is (they won't show it to you!) but it is downstairs where no trained staff monitors your pets before and after procedures.
  4th of Nov, 2009
Agree Disagree -1 Votes
I think Theresa Paoloni and Tiffany Miglorino are the best vets around and I've gone to many of them around the area. The staff has always been respectful and very nice to me. I've been going there for over 13 years and have not had any problems. Are they the cheapest around? No but I would say they are middle of the road as far as prices go. In addition, I have noticed that they have correctly diagnosed what others could not. I love the fact that they give me the whole picture of what is can be done and give me some options as to how aggressively I want to go.

I do a very (very) small kitten rescue and I can't even tell you how often they have given me medications and visits without even charging me.

About 3 months ago, I found a very emaciated, elderly, toothless cat with his leg dangling and shattered. I called VCU but they were closed because they were having a training class for their employees. Jesssica answered the phone anyway and asked me to hold on. Then, Dr Paoloni got on the phone and said "What's going on?" I explained the situation and told me to come right in. I did, knowing that the cat would have to be euthanized. Dr. Paoloni examined the poor cat and did in fact have to humanely euthanize him. Do you know what she charged me? Nothing!

This doctor is dedicated to her patients and their humans. I would never switch veterinarians and if I ever do have a problem, I will be sure to ask, without attacking, if I could speak to her privately.

That's my 13 year experience with Dr. Paoloni and her staff.
  27th of Jul, 2010
Agree Disagree +2 Votes

This place is terrible! I don't even know how they manage to stay open. Expensive, don't have enough staff for the amount of pets they see, are involved with many on-going lawsuits. If you go here, don't leave sight of your pet...you'll be sorry you did. Better yet, just go somewhere else!
  2nd of Dec, 2010
Agree Disagree -3 Votes
Vetcare Unlimited has taken care of my dog since 1998. He has had numerous ailments and the staff has always been curtious and helpful. Dr Paoloni and Dr. Miglorino are responsible for my dog still being here. In September he was having breathing problems, since this was 2AM I had to take him to an emergency vet. He was put into a oxygen cage and I was told his tongue is turning blue he needs to stay in the oxygen cage. They told me I will probably have to euthanize him because they did not feel he would survive outside the oxygen. I called Vetcare Unlimited and left a message for them to contact emergency vet to discuss my dog's situation. Well thanks to Dr. Paolini and Dr. Miglorino after speaking to emergency vet, they came up with medication the emergency vet should try for my dog. After speaking to Dr. Paoloni that day she felt that medication would help him and she really calmed my fears. He came home the next day. I think that Vetcare Unlimited takes excellent care of my dog. Over the years I would have to leave my pet at Vetcare for teeth cleaning or tests, He loves going to the Vet. He gets plenty of love from the staff while he is there. I would recommend Vetcare to anyone who is in need of a good veterinarian. The office is clean, the staff is always curtious.
  9th of Feb, 2011
Agree Disagree +1 Votes
I think that Dr. Theresa Paoloni is more concerned about her pockets than the animal and their owners! Recently my dog of 14 years passed away. I brought her to Dr. Paoloni's office in hopes that the staff there could help her. I used to take my dog there and stopped because I found that Dr. Paoloni's prices were outrageous and everytime I went there with my dog I felt that she would nickle and dime me. So when my dog got really sick and the Vet that I had switched her to was not in I in good faith took her back to Dr. Paoloni's office. I was told my dog was really sick and needed an operation. I agreed to that because I wanted to do everything to save my baby. The Vet that was there that day was AMAZING! I felt she really cared and explained what was going on really well. My dog had gone through the surgery fine and I was advised that I should bring the dog to the hospital for overnight monitoring because if anything happened through out the night there are doctor's on staff to be with the dog and I can bring my dog back to Dr. Paoloni's office in the morning. So I was told the dog would be released at 6:30 that night. When I got there one of the staff members told me that the Vet was downstairs with my dog and that she wasn't doing that well. A few minutes later I was told that my dog had died. Heartbroken I left there with out her collar so the next day my husband went there to pick it up and was given the bill. As I was looking over the bill I see that I was charged a CPR fee of $200. I was outraged. I called up to try to speak with Dr. Paoloni and find out why she would do that. Of course she wasn't in and the girl that I spoke to told me that she couldn't do anything about the bill. Now I am no stupid person I actually work in the medical field in a hospital. I know that Medical care and Veterinary care are different but I do know that ALL Doctor's take an oath to save lives and try the best to save a life. Is Dr. Paoloni that hard up for 200 dollars that she charges money to do her job. I have no problem with any other charges except that one. I think it is unethical of Dr. Paoloni and HEARTLESS! She should be ashamed of herself!!!
  5th of Mar, 2011
Agree Disagree -1 Votes
I'm sorry for the loss of your pet, but unfortunately your rant is about money. You are complaining about a charge for services that are provided for in every hospital and medical facility. You mention that you work in the medical field - well check with your coding department because CPR is a valid charge. You may not see it, it would probably be an ambiguous charge, but it would be there. You want to try and smear Dr. Paoloni's good name on a public forum such as this because she provided you with a clear and concise bill! Would you have been happier with a inclusive generalized bill - I think not! You mention that Dr. Paoloni was not available when you called - how about you try calling back. I am a long time client of Vetcare Unlimited, if she is not available at the time, Dr. Paoloni always gets back to her clients. Civil discourse is a lost art in todays environment.

It seems as if your dog had already had health issues because it was an older dog. You make no mention as to what your other veterinarian was unable to do for your dog, other than be unavailable for you. And I find it quite telling that you go back to Dr. Paoloni, where you knew that all efforts would be made to save your dogs life, and then you want to trash her for being a responsible doctor in showing you exactly what you were being charged for.

If anyone should be ashamed it should be you. I'm sure the satisfaction you thought you would get in submitting your post, was fleeting, at best.
  28th of Jul, 2011
Agree Disagree -1 Votes
I'm sorry that others have had negative expriences, mine is quite the opposite. Dr. Paloni saved the life of my eldest cat Bella when 2 other vets had missed her ailment, because none thought to test for it, as it's very rare in cats in the US-just about unheard of. Dr. P found it, treated Bella, and as a result Bella is now enjoying life at 15.
She and her staff have never been anything but wonderful to any of our animals. When we rescued a cat last year, it was Dr. P who diagnosed and found the mammery tumor that would otherwise have claimed her life. She did the surgery and helped refer us to an oncologist for chemo!
When another of my cats was rescued, his neutering was botched at another vet. When we got him, he was ill and had an infection. Dr. P and staff were so compassionate and kind, and took him right in and treated him.
We have found everyone there incredibly kind and caring. We love Rhea, and Dawn, and everyone who's come in contact with us. We have never felt that people didn't get back to us, we always get follow up calls. Dr. P. calls us back with results and updates as she gets them. We have always felt cared for and felt our animals mattered to all the staff there.
I am sorry for the loss of the original posters bird. I don't know what happened as I wasn't there and I know how devestating the loss of any precious animal can be.
I can say honestly that my experience with VCU has been a good one, and I believe 3 of my cats might not be here today if it wasn't for Dr. P and her staff.
  5th of Dec, 2011
Agree Disagree -1 Votes
I have brought my dog Baby to Dr. Paoloni since 1998. I have always trusted everyone to take good care of my dog and he always received the best of care. This March he started filling with fluids in his chest, he was diagnosed with Congested Heart Failure, he had stage four heart murmur, i was told he should be euthanize but emotionally i was not ready, They drained him that day of the fluid and every week i brought him in and then April 30 2011 he had a slight stroke. I knew it was time and everyone at Vetcare Unlimited was so kind and caring, not only for my dog but for me. I know Baby had the best care and for that I am grateful to everyone at VCU. If I ever get another dog I would bring him to VCU because I know my pet would always get quality care.
  7th of May, 2013
Agree Disagree +1 Votes
Please DO NOT use this veterinarian! I brought my rabbit in when I read online that Dr. Paolini specialized in exotic animals. What the website didn't tell me is that she barely had any contact with rabbits before my visit. My rabbit has arthritis and I thought I was going to learn what I can do to help her with the pain of getting older. Every time I asked the doctor a question, she ran to the back to look it up on her computer. After the initial visit my rabbit got worse, I started Adequan shots. The shots require me to go in every 4-5 days for a total of 5 shots. The vet tech is supposed to handle this so I don't get charged a vet fee. On the third shot, the vet tech screwed up on the shot and told me she didn't think she got all of the medication in. The vet NEVER came out to make me feel more at ease and when I asked for her to assess the situation, I was told that she'd charge me extra for a vet appointment and that everything would be fine. FINE? What kind of care is that? I will NEVER go back to this vet and I hope nobody who has an exotic animal will either.
  22nd of Apr, 2016
Agree Disagree 0 Votes
I'm sorry for your loss. I have been going to vet care unlimited for a bit under 19 years. I have only had positive experiences. I have taken several pets there including my African grey parrot and have been very satisfied.

I have boarded my pets with Dr Paoloni and everything has gone well. I actually have 2 cats with cancer who need daily medication (one very recently diagnosed). I can't leave them with family etc when I go away because of them having to be medicated. I will not hesitate to leave them with VCU because I've had to leave them there when they were sick in the past and I've never had a problem.

Again I am sorry for your loss as I know how difficult it is to lose a pet/family member
  1st of Aug, 2017
Agree Disagree +1 Votes
As a former a client AND employee, I must sadly reaffirm all they care about is money. Their books are so mismanaged they owe thousands to Antech (where they send their labwork), Merial (heartgard and flea/tick prevention), and several more. Have you ever wondered why they mostly don't have your item in stock and ask that you log on to their online pharmacy? Because that pharmacy isn't truly their own so it isn't affected by their piss poor accounting. When a new client calls to make an appointment, the receptionists are trained take their name, address, and phone number so that the client is automatically placed on their reminders call back list...meaning, even if your pet isn't due for let's say a Rabies vaccine, the date entered for the due date is the same as your appointment and if you don't show, it'll show on their books as if your pet is "overdue" and they will call you until you come in or block their numbers.

The supoort staff is also forced to go through weeks of "training" when they're first hired to upsell all clients, how to answer the phone so that if you inquire about a price, the staff isn't allowed to answer how much anything is until they tell you how GREAT they are first. Ria (administrator and also the one who avoids all calls from the companies she owes money to, ironically) scares new hires in to going along with this salesperson/telemarketing agenda by saying she has secret shoppers call at random to make sure we were all answering the calls appropriately.

Most times Ria and Dr. Paoloni (they're married) will have a fight so Ria won't go home and instead, sleep over at VCU, obsess over all the little mistakes everyone made, write a billion post its and leave them literally on every surface of the desk (WHY IS THIS HERE? WHY DIDN'T YOU PUT REMINDERS IN FOR THIS CLIENT? WHY DIDN'T YOU TRY TO SELL THEM FRONTLINE?! etc) One time Ria actually started one of our mandatory staff meetings (every week) with "I hate [censor] stirrers" seriously? That's how you start a meeting?

Besides all that, she would give each receptionists packets of all those fake reminders and whoever called and made the most appointments would get a free manicure! Wow! I'm in this field to help clients and their pets, not be a telemarketer to harass people and win free manicures.

Enough about Ria, let's move on to Dr. Paoloni. Sweet as pie, right? Wondering what your pet's bloodwork showed? Be ready to wonder for at least a week (even though it's in her mailbox the following morning) are you calling to speak with Dr. P? Too bad, she's in an appointment. Not really we just aren't allowed to interrupt her with any calls because she's too busy writing her notes for a patient she saw 2 days ago.

Do I sound bitter? To be honest, I was going to let bygones be bygones but apparently charging emoloyees for exams the doctors never did is the usual and that erroneous balance will follow you around for 5 years and they will hire the slimiest collection company to call not only you, but your family. Funny, didn't hear anything from them for years but I guess they're desperate for any pennies they can collect.

PS: If you find a stray kitten etc don't bring them here for them to adopt out etc, they will tell you one thing and then euthanize it. Their surgery suite is in the basement and there's no monitoring system to make sure all pets recover from anesthesia OK.They do guesswork and google for exotics for the most part.

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