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Hi, I'm really sad, need your thoughts

November 11th, 2007, 11:38 AM
On Oct 15th (the 14th anniversary of losing my mum too) we (that's my husband & I) had our beautiful 15 yr old female cat, Pepsi, put to sleep at home after she couldn't manage to eat any more because of a tumour on her lower jaw. (That's Pepsi in my avatar, little monkey loved getting into our bed).

She'd given up eating her biscuits in June (just ate pouch food) & we thought the inside of her mouth must be sore so we took her to the vet who said she did have a sore in her mouth & he prescribed antibiotics & said they would clear it up. In early September (she'd never gone back to eating biscuits) I thought one side of her lower jaw seemed different so we took her back to the vets. We were told there was a growth & there was nothing they could do. She was given more antibiotics & liquid pain relief although the vet said her jaw didn't seem to be painful but she was dribbling so pain relief could benefit the sore mouth. (There was an ulcer like bleb in her mouth & vet said that was unrelated).

The pain relief gave Pepsi sickness & diahhrea so after a week we abandonned that. She ate well, 2-3 pouches well mashed up. Then Friday before Monday 15th Oct she just managed a few mouthfuls but was hungry as she lapped milk, which we'd never usually give her & gravy from our dinner plates & we knew it was the end of the road.

Monday morning we took her to the vets who said, as we knew she would, that it was time to let Pepsi go. We asked the vet to come later to our home so we could be quiet there. The vet came with a nurse. I hope it is ok for me to copy & paste my letter of complaint here as it tells all that then happened.

"Pepsi, our much loved, beautiful cat, had been under the care of your surgery since she was 6 weeks old, that’s 15 years.

On 15th October she unfortunately needed to be put to sleep &, after seeing Suzy Wheeler at 10am in the surgery, she came to our home 3.15pm to do this. We had requested this facility to help alleviate undue stress to ourselves & to Pepsi. Suzy arrived with a nurse. I said a few times Pepsi was very timid of strangers. Pepsi was in her bed, a box with low sides, & I was cradling her tightly as she was shaking with fright. Suzy cut some fur off Pepsi’s foreleg & inserted the needle. The nurse had not got hold of Pepsi’s leg firmly & Pepsi pulled away & the needle came out. Suzy then tried inserting the needle again but Pepsi’s vein had collapsed, she said. I told Suzy she’d frightened Pepsi more & that should not have happened. She said she had to get the needle in. Suzy needed to cut fur off Pepsi’s other foreleg & this time the nurse held onto Pepsi’s leg tightly. I said they were not to let the same thing happen. Suzy then managed to administer the drug & our Pepsi just sank into my arms.

We have never experienced trauma quite like we & our poorly & terrified Pepsi were subjected to. The pain of losing our pet was bad enough but, after asking for a home visit to keep us all calm & this happening, my husband & I & Pepsi were (& my husband & I still are) extremely distraught.

Later on we found the syringe Suzy had used on Pepsi on the path where they’d got into their car !!

With respect, we feel your fee of around Ł48 should be waived & we expect a letter of apology & acceptance of our request, by return of post. We have the syringe in our possession & will decide what to do with it, depending on your answer."
We received a letter back denying any responsibility & going on about how older cats veins were often too thin to work on & how it was peaceful & calm to let a pet go in their own surroundings, etc but this wasn't the problem & we sent a further letter.

"On 20th October we received your response to our letter dated 16th October concerning the euthanasia of our cat, Pepsi, on 15th October.

You said that after speaking with Suzy Wheeler, the vet, & with Emma, the nurse attending, you do not believe anyone was at fault. This is unbelievable ! I was cuddling Pepsi tightly to my body. Emma was at fault, she did not hold Pepsi’s foreleg securely thus enabling Pepsi to pull her leg away after Suzy had inserted the needle & was ready to euthanase. That was why Suzy then had to attempt to insert the needle a second time into the same vein, which had collapsed.

It had nothing to do with your explanation that “an elderly cat will invariably have frail blood vessels making injections directly into the vein more difficult, & sometimes impossible. It is not unusual for a veterinary surgeon to need to use a second vein, in these circumstances.” It did have to do with Emma not holding Pepsi’s foreleg securely, thus causing the procedure to be unnecessarily prolonged. Under these particular circumstances we call this incompetence by a member of staff from your surgery & you should take responsibility. What was Emma in attendance for if not to restrain Pepsi as certainly many animals must react like this at these times ? Pepsi then needed to be turned round for Suzy to gain access to her other foreleg, which had to have the fur clipped before euthanasia could be carried out. This period of time was unbearable for us. Of course Pepsi then sank into my arms, she was dead then.

You commented “we feel the calm & peaceful home surroundings offer a more appropriate situation for saying goodbye to a loved family member”. That was why we asked for a home visit after discussing it in the surgery at 10am, but it certainly was not “calm & peaceful” as we had intended, because of Emma & what subsequently had to follow.

As for the syringe, it wasn’t just accidentally left in our home, we found it more than two hours later by the roadside outside our home, on the public footpath ! Thankfully it was not a child who found it.

We have no wish to come to the surgery to speak with you & further upset ourselves. If you still fail to understand why we have found it necessary to contact you & you do not waive the fee & apologise promptly, we will consider taking this matter further."

We've had a very curt letter back saying our version of events is totally different to their vets & they are pursuing payment.

This has been the worst few weeks for us. We have no family & Pepsi was our life. We feel, especially as that surgery has looked after Pepsi since we had her at 6 weeks old from the RSPCA they should waive the fee as they were incompetant surely ?

Don't upset me further if you totally disagree please as I've just read your euthanasia thread which brought it all back. I'm in floods of tears here. I just wondered if you think I'm being unreasonable as we are grieving.

November 11th, 2007, 12:28 PM
I am very sorry you had to experience such depressingly inept care, just when you and your cat needed things to be peaceful. If they'd had their wits about them, knowing Pepsi was timid, they could have given her a mild tranquilizer by mouth ahead of the housecall.

To me, a compassionate vet would AT LEAST express remorse that things didn't go well. Maybe their legal advisor :evil: advised them not to. I don't know what you can do at this point, other than to report them to their professional body. And I'm sure the discarded syringe would be of great interest to the police.

You gave Pepsi a long and happy life and you loved her enough to let her go when she was ready. Don't let that vet hijack your grief.

:rip: Pepsi.

November 11th, 2007, 03:09 PM
I am so sorry for your loss. We have all lost pets in the past and they have been our family. Unfortunately vets are only human and they may make mistakes and you have to take this into consideration. In no way I am making excuses for their actions! Your cat was elderly and the veins at this age may cause problems. I don't think they did anything on purpose, but like with elderly people or pets things don't work like they used to. Maybe they should have given your cat a tranquilizer before the injection? Some vets may be more compassionate than others. Don't forget also that in their lifetime they put down many sick or old animals and they are hurting too. After all, this was their patient and I think they do get somehow attached to them. Very few are in it for the money, I really think that they are the true animal lovers and not money hungry morons like the public makes them out to be! If you really are dissatisfied with this vet and his ways, I would never go to him again and tell him why! We had a situation years ago at our vet clinic. Our 10 year old male cat (males are prone to heart disease) had heart trouble and was in a lot of pain and the vet was administering pain medication, without thinking, my husband held Felix instead of a technician. My husband got bitten really bad and had a huge bump on his arm. He needed antibiotics for 4 months. We make sure now the vet gets her technician. As for the cat, he got sick again and it was during the weekend. We had to take him to an emergency vet hospital and after spending $1,000 trying to save him, he died there. Vets gave us only a 20% chance of him surviving this disease. When we adopted him many years ago, at the S.P.C.A we decided to adopt the oldest cat there. That was our Felix.

November 11th, 2007, 04:17 PM
I am so very sorry for your loss.

And perhaps that's the most important thing, the thing you should acknowledge and see clearly ~ you are grief struck and lost.

I've been through the same experience. In retrospect I wish I had a sedative to give in advance but I didn't and I have to live with that. As do you.

Maybe you should advocate within the Veterinary world for a "better death".

November 11th, 2007, 06:31 PM
I'm distressed because Emma (the nurse) didn't hold Pepsi's forearm securely as she should've done & Pepsi managed to pull away. It would've been over quickly & as calmly as possible. I had a tight hold of Pepsi, hugging her to me whilst she sat in her box with towels in it. I can't get this scene out of my mind. I watched that needle go into Pepsi's vein, I watched the vet draw back & get blood & it was then, just as the vet was about to inject the drug, that Pepsi pulled her leg away enough to pull the needle out. Blood obviously came out all over Pepsi's beautiful pure white fur which she cared for to the end. The vein collapsed because of this. The vet tried again to put the needle into the same vein. Personally I don't feel Pepsi needed sedating but they scared her & upset us because they botched it.

If we opt not to pay the bill we will likely be credit blacklisted & sued by the vet. If we go to their professional body, will it just cause us more pain, will the police really be interested in the accidentally discarded shringe ? The vet who runs the practice says the vet who came to us recalls it so differently & we cannot believe she did that but it would be to the practice's advantage to do so.

Thinking again about the shringe the vet presumably was concerned we had it as someone rang next morning after my husband dropped the letter in by hand on his way to work. They were going to send someone straight up for it but I refused to let them have it. I was asked to leave it on my doorstep if I couldn't stay home. Seems they wanted it back, doesn't it ?

Thanks for your replies, don't really know what to do about it now. If we pay the bill & try to forget, will this be the best for us or do we go to the local press etc ? We know we did our best for Pepsi but her passing was meant to be so different & I'm so very angry. She "went to sleep" in her box in the conservatory she loved to sleep in, in the afternoon & we buried her in her own garden which she loved spending time in.