Saturday, October 1, 2011

Believe it Or Not.

I'm a firm believer in spaying and neutering animals.
There are entirely too many unwanted animals in this world...full breed as well as mixed breed.
So, it was no surprise when I made both Layla and Thomas O'Malley appointments for their respective surgeries this weekend, the first weekend of the month, ie. payday weekend.

We have used our small town vet ever since we moved here and were more than satisfied with her and her clinic for many years. However, in the last year or so, she's been slipping.  I've been concerned enough that Layla has never been a patient at her clinic, and when we left for our vacation on the beach over the long 4th of July weekend, I moved Hermione's records to the big city vet where Layla's records have been since we got her.  The cats never need much except shots and don't really like car rides, much less longer car rides, so I decided to leave their records with the small town vet for now.  

Since Thomas O'Malley's neuter surgery was a pretty simple procedure, I decided to trust him to our small town vet while transporting Layla to the big city for her more invasive procedure.   Layla's puppy classes also take place in the big city, so I dropped her off after puppy class Thursday night before her surgery was to take place on Friday morning.  The big city clinic is like dropping a person off in the hospital.  Those folks are serious about animal care.  Layla's computerized records were pulled, and her chart (very similar to a human patient's cumulative file in the doctor's office) was reviewed, the procedure explained to me in detail along with any and all charges for the process and explanation of what those charges were for.  I signed forms giving my consent, and the vet tech came to take Layla back.  All of the techs wear scrubs, are respectful and it is obvious that there are high expectations for their performance.  While I was very sad as I walked out the door, I knew Layla couldn't be in better hands. 

I dropped Thomas O'Malley off the next morning on my way to work.  The tech wrote his name and procedure on an index card and took him, his travel crate and the card back to the back.  Period.

By mid-morning on Friday the big city vet called to say Layla's surgery was complete, she had responded well to the anesthesia, her kidneys, etc. had responded well, and she was waking up.  The big city vet called again late afternoon to update me again and still again this morning to tell me Layla was doing "excellent" and was ready to go home whenever we were ready to come get her. 

The small town vet never called.

My youngest, middle child and I decided we would go and get Thomas O'Malley midmorning today, bring him home and let him relax a little before leaving for the big city and getting Layla.
We arrived at the small town vet around 10 this morning.

The smiling tech brought our travel crate out and set it on the counter.
Middle daughter, youngest daughter and I immediately starting oooohhhing and coooing at the box.
Then, we all stopped.
Almost in unison, we said, "This isn't our cat."

The vet tech looked at me with wide open eyes, "What?"
We repeated, "This isn't Thomas O'Malley!"

"Are you sure??" she says. 

Um, yeah...I guess we know our own cat pretty well...

Small town vet tech then begins to stumble all over herself...there were two cats scheduled for neuter surgery on Friday...the vet took them both in at the same time...took them both out of their crates and laid them on the same table...

Stop the story for just a minute and absorb this part of the tale...
I feel sure the tech was not supposed to tell me that part.

The tech continued to stammer...the vet realized that one of the cats was female instead of male and realized that she could not do both of those surgeries side by side.  
And, of course, most importantly, did not return the correct cat to the correct crate.
The vet neutered the male cat on the table, called the owner (or so she thought) of the female cat and informed them that their cat was female.  She did ask the owners if they still wanted the cat spayed now instead of neutered.

Have you figured out yet that the female cat was and is our very own Thomas O'Malley...who will now and forever more be known as Thomasina?

The other owner came and picked up our Thomasina about an hour before we arrived to pick him/her up.   She noticed that her cat was lighter (her cat is more than twice the size of Thomasina, so duh on that one).  She was also surprised that he/she ran and hid as soon as she opened the crate when she arrived home.

Arrangements were made for a cat swap within the hour.

My youngest was slowly but surely becoming beside herself.  I myself was trying to remain calm...all I wanted was my youngest's cat...I told the girls that we would go to McDonald's and have a biscuit while we waited...and regain our composure.

We returned about 40 minutes later to find our Thomas/Thomasina on the counter in his/her crate.  We recognized her immediately and she also recognized us.  She looked pitiful...after a painful surgery she had been returned to the wrong home and literally looked as if she had never been more relieved to see us in her whole little life.  If you'll remember, the beginnings of her little life were pretty traumatic as well, so my anger began to surface again.  I knew we needed to get out of there quickly.

I received a $10 discount on the spay surgery...since they lost our cat and all...and was told they would see us in a week to remove the stitches.

Once I arrived home, we also noticed that Thomas had an extra incision...the incision was just through the top layer of skin but was so red that I thought it might be bleeding.  It was not, but obviously someone had cut Thomas  in the wrong place, realized it, and then cut her again.  There was some kind of red medicine on the wound, which is why I thought it was bleeding.
Please imagine me red-faced, heart beating fast, teeth clenched.  Thomas ate some food, drank a good bit of water and then we put her in her favorite resting spot, my middle daughter's loft bed.

We left shortly after to pick up Layla at the big city vet.
We arrived, checked in and waited to be called back.
The vet tech called us within just a few minutes, we went to an examination room with her where she showed me all Layla's records again, explained the surgery again, explained what to watch for, showed me how to break up Layla's pain pills (doggy Ibuprofen) and asked me if I had any questions before she brought Layla in. 
I asked her about Thomas.
Very professionally she declined to speak specifically about another vet's practice but did indicate that surgery on two animals at the same time was not standard practice in their clinic.
The vet who performed Layla's surgery arrived and reassured me that he would be more than happy to take over Thomas's care and would remove her stitches the very same day he removes Layla's.  

We paid our bill right there in the private exam room and the tech left us to go get Layla.  
I could hear various techs and other personnel cooing over Layla as they came down the hall...telling her that her family was waiting for her...and that she was such a good girl.  When Layla came in the door of the exam room, the three of us fell to our knees to hug and kiss her.  
She was, of course, happy to see us but not frantic in any way.

We led her out quietly among more good-byes to both us and Layla and more comments about what a well behaved and mannered dog she is.
PetSmart puppy class, baby.

Little Thomas/Thomasina has been sleeping most of the time since she's been home, but when she's awake, she's visibly uncomfortable, sitting hunched over, twitching her tail, etc.
Thankfully, she is eating, drinking and using her litter box so we'll just try to keep her as comfortable as we can.

Hopefully she'll be rolling around in the sunshine again soon.


  1. OMG.....I'm cringing as I read your poor tale of Thomas/Thomasina. I bet that will be the last time you have a procedure done at the small town vet! What a idiot!

  2. Diane, not only will it be the last time I have a procedure done at that vet's office, but it will also be the last time I ever darken her doorstep for ANYTHING. I hope whatever's going on with her gets taken care of...but not at the expense of my animals.

  3. This is absolutely horrible! I cannot believe how terrible of an experience poor little Thomas went through (and you and your children) - the fact that Thomas was then given over to a different person and then had to go into a different house as well! I am beside myself also with anger on this mistreatment by a veterinarian. These types of irresponsible actions are not excusable at all. I am happy, though, to read that she is comfortable and that her nutrition and bathroom habits are unchanged, but I can't wait for you to take her to the new vet. Keep us posted!

  4. Oh my gosh. That is absolutely appalling! I can not believe that they performed surgery on two animals at once, and then sent the animals to the wrong homes. I can't believe that they didn't have the decency to call either.
    I hope that you let people know about the vet office! I would be sure to tell people to never send their pets there!

  5. Natalie, little Thomas is still mending...she is definitely still uncomfortable but certainly appreciating all the extra attention...fluffed pillows, taxi service to her food and water, and litter box ;) She has also gone back to resting on my laptop with her little belly resting on the guess is that the warmth relaxes her ab muscles and in some ways soothes her achy incisions.

    S. Leighanne, you better believe I've been spreading the word. I would not want one animal to suffer bc I didn't speak up. I don't know what's going on with our old vet...I suspect something really big, but I cannot stand by and let her harm animals. I know she loved them and her practice at one time...I hope this will be a wake-up call for her.

  6. OMG! I would never go back to that vet again! How very unprofessional of them. Poor little Thomasina - I love her/his... name though. When I see it I get the alley cat song stuck in my head.

    I hope your kitty heals up well and that the new vet continues to be awesome!

  7. Oh My goodness. I would NEVER go to the small town vet again. The is unbelieveable and unprofessional and seems just plain wrong. I might even consider reporting the vet to whoever you report bad vets too. This is really scary.

    I hope Thomasina is OK.

  8. A similar thing happened to me when I had my cat. I know exactly how you feel. The best thing to do is voice your concerns and if you feel strongly enough, report the vet practices to a higher authority. I was appalled at the care that my cat received and made it known to everyone in town. That vet closed its doors and I was happy as a clam over it when it happened.

    I hope little Thomasina is okay. I'm sure she will be. How traumatic!

  9. I am not sure who the vet higher authority is but I know someone at work who works closely with the animal rescue organizations in our area. I plan to have a long talk with her tomorrow.

  10. OMG! I got a headache reading that - I can't believe they tried such inexperienced tactics! Surgery on two cats at the same time! I am so so sorry that you had to go through that! You deserved more than that discount, they shouldn't even have charged you. I hope Thomas/Thomasina is doing better!