Veterinary procedure done without owners permission - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 7 Old 12-21-2013, 11:05 PM Thread Starter
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Veterinary procedure done without owners permission

A family friends' dog was injured at an off leash area. A small dog stuck it's head under a fence, was grabbed by a big dog on the other side and dragged under. The owners got to the dog, brought her to the vet and they discovered her trachea had been crushed, she was unresponsive and had didn't have a good chance at recovery, so the owners decided they wanted the dog put down rather than let her suffer, but they didn't want to be there for the procedure and left the dog in the care of the vet to have it done.

Later they were informed the vet "felt bad" and decided to do the surgery without the owners permission, free of charge but without informing the owner until after the fact when they were finished the surgery and the dog was stable. The next day they sent the dog home, because the procedure had been free, and they didn't want to support the dog through recovery. There were complications and the dog died anyway after two days at home.

I don't know, but I'm amazed that this happened at all. The owner thinks they used her dog as practise- I think, regardless of their intentions, the owners wanted the dog put down to avoid suffering. Instead she had to sit through two days of "recovery" with complications before she died... Thoughts? I'm a little astounded myself...
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post #2 of 7 Old 12-21-2013, 11:28 PM
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Well it may just be that the vet thought that there could have been a good chance for the dog to live. Or maybe the vet thought the only reason they were wanting the dog put down was because of the bill. Who knows. Everyone would take it differently. It could be a gift or it could be rude, the out come is what makes the difference. But unfortunately the dog never pulled through.
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post #3 of 7 Old 12-21-2013, 11:36 PM Thread Starter
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I think the only thing that would have made it an 'okay' gift (regardless of whether the dog pulled through or not) is if the vet had a ) offered to do the surgery free of charge, instead of taking the decision into their own hands and b ) kept the dog for the appropriate recovery time, rather than sending the dog home immediately. It COULD have been an amazing gift, but the way they went about it was SO wrong.
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post #4 of 7 Old 12-21-2013, 11:51 PM
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Honestly I'm a little surprised. I know someone who's horse colicked really bad, and he needed emergency surgery, but the owners didn't have the money. They wanted to wait overnight (he got to the hospital really late at night), as he was stable enough, before making the decision to euth him. They got a call really early the next morning that an anonymous donor had given the hospital the money to get the surgery done, and would she like them to go ahead and start. Of course she said yes, and the horse ended up pulling through. I think that even if someone didn't donate money, the proper thing to do would have been to call the owners, and say something, and make sure that they want to go through with the surgery. It's one thing if someone wants to euth a perfectly healthy young dog say, because they are moving and can't take him with them or something, to go find a home for the dog, (from what I understand though, they always ask the owner to sign the dog over to the vet so it's all legal transfer of ownership), but if the dog is injured and suffering, and the owners decide to euth, then that's what should happen, or they should call the owner to inform them that the surgery can be done because of donation, or they are going to waive the fee or whatever, and see if the owner wants to go ahead with it. It's not just the money for the surgery, its also the money for meds, for rechecks, for potential other emergency stuff related to the surgery, and the owners should have been the ones to decide if they can handle it. That being said, it would be really hard to put an animal down just because the owners can't pay for a surgery, and if I were a vet, I'd want to do what I could to help out, so I understand where the vet was coming from in wanting to help an animal that has a good chance of healing and doing well after surgery.
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post #5 of 7 Old 12-22-2013, 02:01 AM
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I wish I had a vet like that. When my dog had kidney failure as soon as he heard I could NOT spend thousands of dollars he suggested my dog be put down. I keep wondering if a different vet would have tried harder. He seemed like, well you don't have the money, don't waste my time... I read afterwards that we could have tried taking him home with IV fluids. He didn't even mention it as a possibility. I also read that leptospirosis has a higher chance of recovery. Again that was never mentioned.

If I had a computer in front of me and had the time to research it, maybe I would have left him there for that Sunday night and taken him to a different vet the next day. Maybe there would have been a different outcome.

That was the emergency vet. The bill was huge- just for bloodwork and a urinalysis. I will never ever take one of my pets to the university again! I feel so angry because if I had taken him to my regular vet, I think more would have been done for a fraction of the cost.
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post #6 of 7 Old 12-22-2013, 03:15 AM Thread Starter
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I don't know if we're missing the part where the owners decided they wanted the dog put down to end her suffering or where the vets didn't ask permission to perform the surgery instead. Or the part where they sent the dog home immediately after, without including the after care in their "gift" (hence by the dog passed). I think, regardless of whether a vet thinks an animal 'has a good chance', if the owners have made a decision and the vet hasn't expressly offered the procedure, the owners wishes should be followed.
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post #7 of 7 Old 12-22-2013, 10:54 PM
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I don't know, if the vet did it in good faith I couldn't criticize. If the outcome had been different, they would have been grateful. I think they still should be.

I once rushed a dog to the emergency. It was a working cow dog and had been hit by a truck. I recognized the dog, and could tell there was no time to waste as the nearest vet was over 70 miles away. The vet said the only option was to amputate. I told him I would pay for it, go ahead. He said that since I was not the owner of record he couldn't do the procedure w/o the owner's permission. I finally (after some real effort!) got the owner on the phone, meanwhile the poor dog was scared to death and traumatized. The owner told me the dog would be of no use and didn't want the procedure done and wanted him put down, I told him I would pay for it and take ownership to which the owner agreed, but tried to convince me to let him go. BUT, I had a verbal agreement and "transfer of ownership" right there and had the vet's staff "hear" it in full...the vet STILL wouldn't do it!!! I pleaded, the whole experience ripped my heart out. In that story was a life that could not be saved on the basis of "human" documented ownership. So, no I could never bring myself to criticize a vet for performing a procedure that they, in their medical opinion, believed might save an animals life - with or without "the owner's" consent. When people complain when and if they do make an effort to save a life - it gives vets all the more reason to behave as the vet that I described did - i.e., w/o an ounce of humanity.

There is just as much horse sense as ever, but the horses have most of it.
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