Monday, February 2, 2009

A Tragic but True Story


The following is a very difficult story to share. It has nothing to do with animation art… but there is an important reason for sharing it. If you are a pet owner, or simply love animals, please read on…


Last Thursday, I dropped off our three year old dog Lulu at the vet. A chihuahua mix, she was in perfect health. As good pet parents, we had scheduled her spaying. She came home Friday morning. The vet gave us no indication anything was unusual.


She seemed uncomfortable and disoriented. She was also not eating, and was drinking very little water. And occasionally vomiting a little.


My wife Rebecca was up around the clock for most of 48 hours nurturing Lulu. She also called the vet’s office several times, of course, and the staff casually responded that it was not unusual for these symptoms to persist for up to three days.


Sunday morning Rebecca took Lulu out at dawn. I was still asleep. Lulu actually wagged her tail a bit, which Rebecca took for a good sign. They came in and went back to sleep around 7 am. My alarm went off at 7:45. As soon as I saw Lulu I could tell immediately that she had died, cuddled close to Rebecca.


We took Lulu’s little body to another animal hospital for an autopsy. We received a phone call at midnight with the results. The vet who did the surgery left a surgical sponge in Lulu. This resulted in a massive abdominal cavity infection. Our dear little pet didn’t have a chance. As she stayed overnight after the surgery, the sponge and infection had already had 24 hours. Even if we’d had a clue what was going on, there was little chance she’d have survived a second surgery.


The secondary vet who inspected the body said the vet who did the surgery should never have even released her if she wasn't hungry and thirsty Friday morning. Further, it is standard operating procedure to take a post-surgical x-ray to make sure nothing is left inside the animal. This step was skipped with Lulu. And she had no post-surgical antibiotics (even though these are often considered prophylactic).


To think that we entrusted our little friend to this vet, and his reprehensible negligence brutalized Lulu enough to kill her... it's agonizing.


My wife Rebecca is completely and utterly devastated. She actually delivered Lulu three years ago. She wasn't breathing and Rebecca coaxed her into life. My nickname for Lulu was "umbilical" because they were so completely attached to one another.


There have been so many tears since Sunday morning our whole family is feeling completely empty.


Losing a pet that's lived a full life is hard enough. But to have one so young, taken this way... you can imagine how deep our grief is.


Why share this sad story here?


To prevent anyone else from going through this.


When you spay or neuter your dogs, insist on a post-surgical x-ray. If your dog isn’t back to near normal in 24 hours, insist on the vet examining the dog right away. Don’t be dissuaded. Your pet’s life depends on it.


Finally, take time tonight to give your animals a little extra love. These dear little creatures live only to love.


Please pass this on to all pet owners you know. That way, hopefully, we may prevent this tragic and unnecessary loss from happening to anyone else.


In memory of Lulu, “Ludeedoo,” 2005-2009.


Rest in peace, little one.

61 comments:

Niki said...

She was an adorable little dog.

Kris Raven said...

I am so sorry for your loss, both of you. I hope you pursue their negligence. Thank you for the knowledge. I shall spread it diligently.

Doug Williams said...

I'm so sorry for your loss. that's just a heartbreaking situation. You and you wife are in my thoughts. Again, sorry.

Cat Hicks said...

So sorry for your loss. I've never owned a dog less than 80 lbs and have always heard it was super dangerous to operate on dogs smaller than toasters. I guess that's a rumor then. Regardless, the vet's ill practices make me sick!

prwilliams said...

i admire your courage for posting this story and can only pass on my heartfelt condolences at this time for you and the family.

a truely lovely looking dog there...

kindest regards...

J.R. Spumkin said...

My regards to little Ludeedoo.

That is so, so sad.

LisaBe said...

sorry doesn't begin to say it. i cannot imagine what you and your wife must be feeling—i'm all choked up just thinking about something like this happening to one of our babies. i hope that you'll file a complaint with the better business bureau and whatever agency regulates and licenses veterinarians where you live. if you are a member of angie's list, that is also a place where pet owners will look for information about a prospective vet. it is horrible that this could happen. so, so very sorry. holding you and your family in the light.

paul said...

I'm so sorry for your loss. Losing a pet can be devastating. Your family is in my prayers tonight.

Paul Russell said...

Rob, I'm so sorry for your loss. Thanks for taking time to share Lulu's story and those important steps for safeguarding a pet.

Lulu and your family paid a steep price for those lessons and your thoughtfulness in sharing them will no doubt help another family avoid a similar fate.

She looks like a very cute dog and I'm sure she's grateful for every moment she had with you and your wife.

*daisy said...

so sorry for your loss.. thank you for sharing your story here and for helping warn others against a similar fate. At least you know you gave her the most loving, warm and best life possibly while you had her in your lives :(

Wayne said...

That's brutal.

Patrik Spacek said...

I would sue them! it was irresponsible unprofessional surgery and they should stop their license!

Nora Courtney Ashkar said...

This is so saddening. I'll be praying for you and your wife.

matrix said...

That is so sad. Hang in there. Lulu was lucky to have parents that cared as much as you.

Julia Lundman said...

I am so sorry to read this today. Pets are not to be underestimated by anyone. They are beings with a soul just as lovely and important as any. If there is any comfort in this tragedy, it is that she died knowing she was loved, which is far more than many pets experience.

It makes me angry knowing something like this could happen. Thank you for sharing your story. It will make a difference to those who are now aware of what might happen.

Peace -

Julia

Nonni said...

What a heartbreaking course of events! I pray that your family will be comforted in the loss of your precious Lulu.

Heidi Alfonzo said...

Dear Rob, I am very sorry for your loss. As a dog owner myself, I know how deep your grief must be. I adore my puppy so much! My prayers go to you and your family. Thanks for sharing this!

-karen ann. said...

i have two chihuahuas, a brother and sister. the girl is lulu. chihuahuas especially, are all about love. i'm so sorry your little lulu suffered a needless death.

i hope you follow up with legal action against this vet. they should not be practicing medicine on anyone's animals.

sbeilin said...

Your story is heartbreaking and it must have took a lot of courage to even write it. I'm very sorry for your lost.. Hope nobody ever experiences something like this again..

Happy Miser said...

You're very brave for sharing this tragic lesson with us.
THANK YOU!
I want to be the kind of person my dog thinks I am!

Lindis said...

that is just awful, i am so very sorry for you and your familys loss.
And sue the pants off that pitiful excuse of a vet, they have no right working with animals when they cant even do their job right.
My deepest condolances to you.

Adrian Ropp said...

Your blog has provided me with so much happiness... It's heartbreaking to hear your news. All my prayers go out to you and your family. It seems Lulu was a very special part of it.

I will spend a little extra time coddling my cat tonight, and remembering how fortunate I am to have her.

-With deepest sympathy.

DivaLea said...

Thank you for telling your story. I hope your loss will teach others.
I want to add that this can also happen to people who go into surgery as well. It's not supposed to happen, obviously, and there are procedures in place, but it still does. It happened to me.

I wish you good luck and peace.

Mitch K said...

I'm sorry for your loss! My heart is with you.

Rick Roberts said...

Sadly this has happened to people. I am not aware of a fatality though. Anyway, I am sorry.

Rick Roberts said...

Sorry for not being specific, I meant a surgeon leaving something inside the patient.

sunny kharbanda said...

That's really tragic, Rob. I can imagine your grief and frustration, getting blindsided by something like this. We lost our cat last year to fibrosarcoma, a delayed side effect of Pfizer's feline leukemia vaccine. By the time we found out, it was too late.

Well, there's solace in the fact that Lulu got an incredible amount of love and joy in her three years from you and your family.

rowen26 said...

I'm so sorry for your loss.
This is heartbreaking.

Erik D. Martin said...

This was a tragic story :( sorry for your loss.. thank you for sharing your story and its a good eye opener for us pet owners.

welcome_to_my_deathlist said...

what a heartbreaking story. truly sorry about your loss and for Lulu's suffering. how very negligent and callous of that vet and his team.

Müge said...

I am so sorry for you and your wife's loss.
Rest in peace dear Lulu.

OneSickIndividual said...

that just broke my heart. i cant imagine losing any of my dogs in such a tragic way. thank you for sharing such a personal story and raising awareness. i only hope that time can mend your hearts.

jonathan said...

how awful. My heart goes out to you and your family. I can't imagine how pissed off I would be if that happened to my dog.

Rafael said...

My feelings are with you :)

Robbedoes said...

What a story :(
I'm sorry for your loss; give your lady a warm hug.

Terry said...

Very sorry to hear about your loss. My thoughts and prayers are with you.

Terry-Chicago, IL

KeithHandy said...

So sorry to hear about this. :(

real_greece said...

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Erin said...

I am so very sorry that this happened. Lulu sounds and looks like such a little darling. And how devastating.. my partner works at a vet hospital, and this sort of thing happens so very rarely... I'm very disappointed to hear of the surgeon's negligence. Take care.. it is never easy to lose part of your family.

nullotheist said...

I know I don't know you, but I am very sorry for your loss.
I just got a dog and can't imagine how I'd feel if my vet killed him.
I hope that you do everything you can to make sure that your former vet doesn't have the opportunity to cause the same pain to anyone else.
Good luck.

lepetitdoodler said...

heartbreak :(
i am truly sorry for your family's loss of sweet lulu... i have a dog myself and wouldn't know how to cope if I were in your shoes. again, my deepest condolences.

Sjan W said...

I'm sorry for you guys too!
Lulu looks so cute in the picture..
Thanks for the warnings in your post.

imaginationbay said...

I'm angry for your loss. It's abhorrent the lack of care taken in tending to your dog's need.

My opinion, unsolicited, is that you buy a domain with that clinic/vet's name and publish your story there. Let other people know not to use this doctor's/company's services.

My heart goes out to you. Such a sad situation.

Juie.S said...

My deepest condolences, I cannot begin to imagine what pain your family or Lulu have gone through.

The message will be passed surely.

Ang said...

Man,
I am so sorry. I have been following your blog for awhile but I just saw this post. I can only imagine how painful it is to lose a pet, especially so young. I hope your family is doing better. And thank you for the information.

thank you once again

Mark Sonntag said...

I share your pain, pets trust us with their lives and it hurts so much to know that, especially when it goes so wrong. The surgeon should not be allowed to practice again!

justine pulles. said...

I cried reading this, I'm so sorry for your loss :(

Ami said...

I am so sorry.... I'm in tears

Gisele Jaquenod said...

I am so sorry, and crying here.

I totally understand you, I go all across my city just to go to a vet id trust my life to.

There's just some people that doesn't seem to put the same passion in it, and obviously this vet was a case of that :(

I am so so sorry for you and your wife loss, I totally understand her, its like loosing a child :(

Take care

Gis

LunchBox Illustration said...

I hope you sue the junk out of that vet dude...

Ramon Mejia Jr. said...

I just have to say that I am so sorry for your loss and being a dog owner myself it really angers me that a place where we take our beloved animals to be cured and taken care of could be so careless at times! I once left my dog to be given a bath and when I returned my dog was shaken and looked like something had been done to him, needless to say I really let the manager of the facility have it and reported the facility to the proper authorities and thankfully they did find that animals were being mistreated and they gave them a hefty fine! I hope your family got through this OK and The doctor was fired for this horrible mistake.

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sandya said...

You should know your pet would be very proud of you two as parents... thankyou so much for the important note and advice... we all really appreciate it.. my deepest condolences for your loss.. hugs..