Disappointed in vet

Annike McClarty

On Sunday July 17 our beloved 13-year-old Scottish Terrier, Pitch, was admitted to Peninsula Veterinary Clinic, in Diep River, under the care of Dr Chris Clegg.

Tests revealed his kidneys and other vital organs were not working properly and it would be best to have him on a drip overnight.

Dr Clegg phoned us the following morning to say he was very surprised the dog had not improved after the drip.

After meeting with him, we learnt Pitch’s prognosis was poor and we gave our permission for him to be euthanised. We found Pitch on the drip with a full drip bag. His nose was very dry and he was very lethargic. We were surprised how much he had deteriorated from the day before.

My husband and I held him in our arms while Dr Clegg inserted the needle with the euthanasia drug. Our dog was very uncomfortable and his heart rate went up, while showing that the foot with the drip was very painful.

After a few minutes, we all realised something terrible was happening as the dog was still alive. Dr Clegg said the drip needle was not going into the vein and that the euthanasia drug was going into the muscle. He took the dog to the back away from us and he prepared another batch of the drug.

We followed him to the back where he finally injected the drug directly into a vein and the dog finally died.

The vet told us the IV needle must have shifted from the vein into the muscle when he carried the dog into his consulting room. Immediately we wondered if the needle was always misplaced and that the initial medication in the drip never went into Pitch’s vein but rather into his body. The vet denied this, but the question remains whether the dog never responded to the medication because the needle was incorrectly placed and as a result he did not improve and the decision was made to put him down as a result?

By the time he finally died, we were beside ourselves with anxiety. It was too late to argue and there was no turning back. We were so beyond shocked that we paid the R4 000-odd bill without complaint.

After we got over the trauma, we started to feel angry at what had happened. We felt that the vet’s actions were totally negligent and that for such a price such a terrible mistake was made. Even if the needle had shifted, surely he should have checked the line before injecting the euthanasia drug? Also, we were astounded that although an apology was given, we were charged for his mistake?

It is surely the vet’s absolute duty to ensure the animal suffers no pain and dies in peace and dignity and not in panic as our lovely Pitch did? When this was discussed with the vet, he said he was sorry for our loss, but he felt he had acted correctly and that he had charged us and that there would be no refund of any sort. Instead he sent a bunch of flowers and a sympathy card which we returned to him the following morning. They simply say that it was a genuine accident and apologised for that.

I have come away with the impression that they will go to any lengths to deny they did anything wrong and that the money that they collect is more important than caring for and taking ownership for what happened to our beloved Pitch and the trauma they caused us. We will never take our animals to the Peninsula Veterinary Clinic in future. We are utterly disappointed and disgusted. We will never recommend them to anybody.

* Dr Chris Clegg, of Peninsula Veterinary Clinic, responds: We offer our deepest condolences to the Mc Clarty family for the loss of their pet. The Mc Clarty family decided to euthanise their pet after extensive testing and treatment was performed.

We are committed to reducing the stress of the euthanasia procedure and making it as smooth as humanly possible.

The intravenous catheter was placed inside the vein and the infusion pump was working correctly. The infusion pump has an alert function that warns if the fluid stops running, but this alert did not go off during treatment to indicate

any problem, and there were no signs of fluid running out of the vein.

The euthanasia process can be challenging and unforeseen circumstances do occur. There are numerous reasons for the euthanasia solution to occur out of the vein, including that the skin of an animal is supple and can move in relation to the vein, or a vein can leak with injected pressure.

If the euthanasia solution occurs out of the vein, another needle is to be placed and the solution repeated. This happened speedily and uneventfully. This does not indicate that the veterinarian did anything wrong and there is no harm to the animal.