There are certain calls to news editors that prove irresistible.
I imagine in this day and age of ratings and clicks mattering more than actual investigative reporting, nothing makes editors salivate more than the tale of a devastated family and the greedy, lazy, and/or incompetent veterinarian responsible for the death of a pet.
It neatly checks all the boxes modern day news websites are looking for: sad family. Adorable pet. Terrible situation. Having fulfilled these requirements, the media happily narrates the story with appropriate gravitas and murmurings of “tragic, Jane, back to you for the weather” and then they go on with their lives while the veterinarian in question now is left with the angry mob to deal with. Who cares? It got a ton of clicks!
Savaging a veterinarian who cannot legally or ethically defend themselves in public has become so common and so rote now that it doesn’t even surprise me any more. The latest happened in Greenville South Carolina, but the same old formula has been circulating for years. I should know; it happened to me too.
I understand- truly, I do– the devastation of a client who has lost a beloved pet. I understand that grief does funny things and it often becomes easier to turn guilt into anger, to blame someone else for all the things you could have done better. Better this than to say to yourself, “I played a role in this pet’s death too.”
But I do blame the media for swallowing these stories as presented, regurgitating them to the public as if they were an absolute truth without bothering to even try to get another side to the story. They are part of the reason veterinarians burn out and leave the field, develop addictions, or worse. Because here’s the truth:
As the Vet in Question, You Can’t Win
When someone has lost their pet under sad circumstances and goes to the media, as the professional involved, you are in a terrible situation. We are not supposed to discuss our patients in a public setting. Pointing out that a grieving owner has some responsibility for what transpired is, even when it’s true, awfully callous. There’s just no winning.
As a member of the public, it’s easy to feel outrage when you are presented with a one-sided story, but I’m begging you as someone who has been there, before you jump on the social media bandwagon and pillory yet another professional trying to do their job, to consider that there is probably another side to the story.
I Wish He Had a Chance
In this recent case in South Carolina, a Pomeranian with no ID and no microchip presented with breathing difficulties to an emergency hospital; he was considered a stray, brought in by a Good Samaritan. The pet was euthanized. This is what we know. The hospital declined to comment, as is standard practice.
All any of us have to go on is the owner’s story. My comments, as an emergency veterinarian who’s been in similar situations, follow.
“Bridges says Meeka had a history of tracheal problems that were easily managed with ibuprofen and Benadryl, and believes the vet misdiagnosed her dog’s condition.
Ibuprofen is not prescribed in veterinary medicine*. If the pet was being treated with that, his condition- whatever it was, as ‘slipped trachea’ is not a condition- was never accurately diagnosed or managed. In fact, ibuprofen toxicity is itself a common reason for ER visits.
In an emergency situation where a good Samaritan brings in a pet with breathing difficulty (a true emergency), you are between a rock and a hard place as simple stabilization, never mind diagnostics, runs into the hundreds of dollars or more right out the gate. When you don’t have authorization from the owner and the pet is at risk of dying, you have to make very tough calls.
The family says Meeka was euthanized just a few hours later.
“You can’t be in that profession and not even have a second thought that this that could be a four year old’s puppy that you’re killing,” said Bridges.
This is true. I imagine they did wonder about the pet’s family, and they still made that call. That lets you know how sick the pet was. I can’t speak for the veterinarian in this case, but I’ve been there and when it was me, this is what I have thought:
This is devastating. This poor dog. I wish I knew who he belonged to so I could talk to them. I hope there isn’t a little kid at home wondering if he is OK. I wish he had a chance. I wish he were not panicking while trying to breathe. I wish I had another choice.
The records also show that the Samaritan couldn’t pay for Meeka to have an emergency tracheotomy, and without the funds, he was euthanized.”
He must have been extremely sick. We don’t recommend tracheotomies or euthanize on presentation for a mild soft cough. According to the records shared by the owner, the pet was blue and couldn’t breathe without oxygen- conditions that, in emergency medicine, are as dire as it gets.
If there’s any way to keep the pet safe and comfortable long enough to find the family, of course we will. We want our patients to live too.
My heart is with the Bridges family, who is understandably devastated about Meeka’s death. I don’t blame them for looking for answers. Grieving people do that. I blame the reporter Brookley Cromer, may her stilettos always encounter dog poop, and the team at WISTV, for their laziness in amplifying a grieving family’s questions into implications of guilt instead of presenting the real, nuanced situation. Remember, a collar with tags would have resulted in a different ending.
I wish the Bridges family peace. I wish the staff at Animal Emergency Clinic a bottle of wine. It’s just sad all around.
*The news article has been updated to remove the name of the medication, but that is what was stated by the owner.
(Language warning at the very end.) Crooks and Liars is running a story quoting Keith Olbermann’s thoughts about Donald Trump and dogs. Olbermann points out that Trump continues to use dogs to describe people in a derogatory manner, and that this behavior could lose him votes, given the number of people who have great relationships […]
This is disgusting! It's another great big tax scam just like in Peterborough with the new ridiculous cat law! This where all cats are NOT allowed to leave their yards, must be fixed and on leashes if outside! These laws are absolutely pathetic! This is a totally wrong way to deal with the problem. Who can afford fees they are charging to keep your dog. Who's right is it to say if you can breed your dog. I would say the owner. Another pile of liberalistic idiocy where a band aid is put on instead of dealing with the source which would just happen to be the OWNER!
BAD RAP Blog
Who would save your life if you fell out of sight and couldn’t get up? For one elderly Florida woman, her savior was a little Chihuahua she had rescued from a shelter.
According to ABC Action News, in 2010 a woman was unable to keep her Chihuahua, Sassy, when she needed to move into a nursing home. Thankfully, Marie Alexander spotted Sassy at a shelter and gave her a new home. Six years later Marie told a reporter, “I am so glad I got her at that shelter.” Marie is glad not only for the love that Sassy has provided, but also for Sassy’s persistence and determination that saved Marie’s life on August 13, 2016.
Marie Alexander is 92 years old. Her home is fenced in with some brush and shade. On August 13, after checking her mailbox, Marie turned to walk back along her stoned pathway to head inside. Unfortunately, she tripped, fell backwards, and hit her head. Marie couldn’t get back up to get inside and call for her. Because she hadn’t planned to be outside long, Marie didn’t have her phone with her. Because of the way her yard is setup, Marie wasn’t easily visible to passing cars or people. Her injuries were so bad that Marie was unable to crawl into shade as the Florida heat rose with the day.
The police ID was that the dog was a bit bull. The pound later heard from the neighbor that the dog was a boxer. So…..this is why you cannot ban a breed.
BAD RAP Blog
It was a bad Saturday night. My candidate was soundly defeated in the Nevada Caucuses, and I was smarting badly from loss.
Even as the night was drawing in, I knew the only way I was ever going to start feeling better was to go out into the woods for a twilight perambulation.
The Saturday before was a subzero night. Snow was on the ground and each step was hard and sharp and crunchy. This night was much warmer. It was well above freezing, and the sky was without any clouds. The stars were shining. The moon was almost full.
The squabbles out in Nevada now seemed pointless by comparison, and as I walked into the darkness of a stark February wood, I began to revel in the majesty and forget machinations of humanity. This is what I wanted anyway. Peace and quiet and a realization that this is all insignificant by comparison.
My reverie was then interrupted. In the hollow below the the logging road where I was walking came the churs and snorts of warring demons. There were screeches and squalls mixed into all the din. There was a great battle gong on below me, and I knew instantly what was happening.
February brings the raccoon mating season, and two of the local boars were sorting it out over a female in estrus. I guessed the one of them was the resident ridge-running raccoon who found him a sow to follow on this moonlit night, but the warmer weather and the intoxicating odors had brought up a challenger from the creek bed.
For five minutes, I listened to the boars fight. I debated as to whether I should wander down and see if I could get a better look. But I was certain they would run if they heard my approach down into the hollow.
So I stayed put and listened to the war.
And as soon as the cacophony rose, the air fell silent again. The boars were not fighting now. Perhaps one had beaten the other, and now he had the sow to himself. Or maybe they were off licking wounds and getting ready for another donnybrook.
I didn’t stay long to find out. My mind was tuned to something else besides politics, of the narcissism that is inherent in being human..
Raccoons have fought these wars long before there was a United States, long before there were Democratic Caucuses and primaries. Their wars were about passing on genes. Nothing more. Nothing less.
As I watch now, in this general election from Hell, I think back to that night in February. I think of the moonlight and the stars and the primitive war of ‘coons in a deep hollow.
The sun will rise tomorrow. The seasons will change. My life will one day end.
All around us are these parallel dramas, ones we don’t often take a time to consider.
We all live in alienation from this world to some degree.
But it’s important to break away from our world and see it in proper perspective.
In proper perspective, we can be fully humbled before the mystery.
I hope this just does not push through. As it is, there is enough violence against animals that must first be addressed rather than this ridiculous breed ban.
BAD RAP Blog