We purchased a puppy on 12-21-07 and within 24 hours we noticed that she was having some problems with diorama. I went on line, performed a fair amount of research and discovered that this is fairly common problem with puppies. Potential common causes were stress due to leaving mom or littermates, changes in food or drinking water and eating random things off the ground, which this puppy was prone to do. We decided to monitor her, continue feeding her and giving her bottled water (which we drink ourselves).
After about 24 hours the problem had not resolved itself. I researched on line and discovered that several reliable web sites recommended that ½ teaspoon of Pepto-Bismol be given for ever 10 pounds and as she was only 2 pounds we gave her 2 to 3 drops out of a dropper every 6 hours for 24 hours. They said if she wasn’t better to take her to the vet.
We took her to Banfield Pet Hospital at White Oak in Garner NC, which is located in the Pet Smart at the White Oak Shopping Center in Garner on Christmas Eve.
I took the puppy in, requested an appointment and described to the receptionist her symptoms (diarrhea, not eating and difficulty drinking). The receptionist told me to hold my pet on my lap, not to let her down on the floor or touch the walls because the symptoms I describes were associated with Parvo which was highly contagious. She could hardly answer our questions or provide any level of service because she kept calling other customers on the phone to remind them of them of wellness appointments…like literally kept calling and talking to them right in the middle of talking to me. This didn’t make me think they were very concerned about my puppy or very customer oriented.
In any event I had to sell an expensive piece of personal property for practically nothing to raise the money to take her to the vet so when the nurse came back with a long list of testing to get me to sign up for I very politely explained to her that I had managed to scrape together $200.00 and wanted us to work together to prioritize testing and treatment options to try to help my pet as much as possible with my limited resources. I must admit that she was NOT very supportive of my plight, stated that “people come in here all the time wanting us to help them with their pets and have no money” and she was not helpful in terms of helping me prioritize testing and treatment on a limited budget.
We ended up testing the puppy for Parvo and for parasites. The office visit and testing ate up over half my $200.00 budget. The puppy was negative for the Parvo and positive for a large number of parasites. The nurse explained that for her to have that number of parasites she might have contracted worms in vitro from the mother. She was only 8 weeks old, weighed a little less than 2 pounds and had been de-wormed on 12-18-07.
The nurse came back with a long list of further testing, blood work, IV Therapy, Medications, Vitamin Supplements and Special Pet Food the cost of which was total beyond my reach. I once again explained that I had worked hart to come up with money I did bring and that I could not afford all the things they were recommending. I asked for help deciding how to prioritize. She was pretty stubborn and I eventually decided on the two medicines, a subcutaneous IV to get some extra fluids into her, the vitamins and the special puppy food.
I told the nurse that I used to work in an emergency room and that when people came in with similar problems the usual course of treatment was to give them something to treat whatever was causing the diarrhea (in this case the two kinds of medications), give them an IV to temporarily get some fluids into them (I opted for the subcutaneous IV) and then give them something like Donagel to combat the diarrhea itself (which was not given as an option). The nurse tried to convince me for a second time to leave my puppy there and pay several hundreds of dollars, which she knew I didn’t have for pet IVs to treat the diarrhea. I asked if there was anything like Donagel for puppies. At that point she refused to talk to me further, brought my puppy back to me and asked the vet to come in and talk to me.
The vet was very agitated, seemed upset and I very politely explained to her that I was not trying to be difficult but was just wondering if there was anything like Donagel for puppies. She stated, “you have to be very careful with the medication you are talking about because she is a small puppy... that medication is out of date and it is illegal to dispense out of date medication…we are not allowed to do that”. The vet again tried to talk me into leaving my puppy there and paying for over a thousand dollars of IVs and other testing. She told me she could not help me prioritize care because she might get sued if something went wrong. She further stated that if there was a bad outcome here they could not be held responsible because they had “offered” me additional testing and IV therapy, which I had refused (simple math equation: limited $ = limited medical care). It felt like there was little hope for my pet so they made up a long list of testing/treatment recommendations totaling over a thousand dollars (which few people I know could afford to pay in cold hard cash up front) specifically so that if anything happened they could blame it on the fact that the pet owner “declined” some of these services.
Let me just say that in people land if a doctor or hospital does not have the medication to save your life they are required by law to obtain it from another pharmacy or hospital. Banfield is a national chain with multiple locations in my local area and in retrospect they could have referred me to pick it up at another location. If I had gone to another location they would have charged me another office visit (I called another Banfield about 30 minutes from my home). Also in people land doctors and nurses are caring compassionate individuals who are actually interested in saving your life. This is apparently not so for the staff at Banfield who appeared to be more interested in monetary issues and avoiding being sued that whether or not my puppy lived. They seemed actually angry that I would not come off some credit cards and just charge up thousands of dollars in care for my pet. They did not even send me home with a pamphlet on purchasing pet insurance or their infamous wellness plan. In retrospect I realize this is because they did not expect my puppy to survive. Putting her down was an option I never got.
To be quite honest if I had that kind of money or charging capabilities I would have spent it to save my pets life because I loved my pet more than my money. I spent every single cent I had to my name that day at Banfield, they refused to let me pay them 3 days after when I got paid, I was treated very disrespectfully for merely asking for an anti-diarrhea medication and my puppy died the a day and half later.
I believe in their over zealousness to avoid doing things that might get them sued they failed to provide the minimum quality of care necessary to keep my pet alive. I believe that they should have made the medication I requested to combat the diarrhea available for me to purchase even if they had to contact another Banfield rather than suggesting I pay money I didn't have to keep her IVs for days on end or purchase vitamin supplements and special food when I had already told them she was refusing food. All she did was puke that all up anyway. Something to combat the diarrhea would have at least given us a fighting chance. If we could have controlled the diarrhea she may have began eating again. Also their attitude was really out of line. I have worked with nurses and doctors all my life and never have seen or heard of anything like this. Why in the world the nurse just stopped talking to me I will never know. In human land we have the right and responsibility to ask questions about our medical care but apparently at Banfield this is grounds for the medical staff to get antagonistic and refuse to continue talking to you. Also when the nurse stopped talking to me and sent the vet in I could actually overhear the nurse angrily talking to another staff about me. Can't tell you how unprofessional that is! I was actually nice and respectful when talking to their staff and unfortunately can't say the same about them. Who has the responsibility to be professional and courteous the customer or the healthcare professional? They actually seemed insulted that I walked in the door with limited amount of resources. I told them point blank that I was not expecting miracles but just some help prioritizing care because of limited resources. The impression I got was that they were actually insulted that they were being asked to provide medical care for only $200.00. I guess the sky should always be the limit because once you set that standard everyone understands that once you have a sick pet the money in your wallets and bank accounts will grow wings.
The kicker is that my sick puppy was seen on Christmas Eve in a store located in a Pet Smart and the lines were long. When I was given the medications the vet gave me a little card and told me to “give it to them up front and they will get the food for you”. I went up front, waited in a long line, gave the cashier the card and she looked at me like I had two heads. She sent me back to Banfield and the receptionist there showed me where the medication was. I then drug my sick puppy back up front, stood in the same long line all over again and was finely able to check out the food she never ate.
Sorry for the ridiculously long e-mail but this whole experience was ridiculously long, tedious and the really difficult part was watching my pet die a slow painful death on Christmas when she probably should have been put down. She was 8 weeks old, weighed less than 2 pounds, had an excessive number of two types of parasites and received de-worming medication again prior to the recommended time frame. What do you think her chances of survival were? Would you have at least given me the option of having her put down? She whined off and on all of Christmas day, we spent all day holding and cleaning her. It was pretty pitiful. Almost as sad as seeing the big pile of Christmas presents we bought her... the ones she never even had a chance to play with. The message I got from Banfield is that only wealthy people willing to spend hundreds or even thousands on their animals should be pet owners.