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Animal Euthanasia Agency Faces Charges

Diamondsmum
February 5th, 2009, 12:57 PM
Animal Euthanasia Agency Faces Charges
Thursday February 5, 2009
CityNews.ca Staff
For owners faced with the prospect of having to put their beloved dog or cat to sleep, the thought of doing it in a cold, sterile vet office is disheartening.

But an agency that allows people to say goodbye in the home they shared with their furry friends is being accused of breaking the law.

Although North-York based Toronto Pet Heaven sends licensed vets to perform euthanasia, Ontario's College of Veterinarians claims the agency is providing services without a permit.

Shelley and Eric Blechman point out that although they themselves are not licensed, they're not the ones doing the procedures. And they say they're offering a humane service.

"We have a roster of veterinarians that find time to go to people's homes so they don't have to go to an institution to put [thier pets] to sleep," explained Shelley Blechman.

Her husband, Eric, agreed.

"The College of Veterinarians seems to feel we're acting as veterinarians by arranging for a vet to come to a client's home and put the pet down. We're fighting this, and hopefully at the end of the day, we'll be able to continue our service, which we believe is very important."

The couple also provides cremations, memorial service planning and grief counselling. They started their business back in 2004 when one of their own dogs was dying, and they had nowhere to turn.

They are scheduled to be in a Scarborough court for the next two days. If they're found guilty they could be fined up to $100,000.

http://www.citynews.ca/news/news_31863.aspx

I have heard of this company & also have friends use it as well...

babysweet
February 5th, 2009, 02:33 PM
Under the current laws only a veterinarian can run a veterinary practice, which this could be considered to meet the criteria of, considering it's arranging veterinary procedures.

It's completely ridiculous, but at the same time these folks have a very small chance of actually maintaining their business.

It's sad really... they're providing a wonderful service. :shrug:

Diamondsmum
February 5th, 2009, 03:04 PM
I checked out there website

http://www.torontopetheaven.com/

Its sad really.. I think they are providing a great service.. I know some seniors & shut ins definetly benifit from it.

badger
February 5th, 2009, 03:43 PM
This is completely ridiculous, a blatant turf war. I wonder if the vets who are contracted by these people are also being censured. Let's hope they get a judge with some sense, then maybe they'll have a shot.

celtic-redhead
February 5th, 2009, 03:44 PM
This is sad. And the press in today's paper hasn't been flattering, at all.

I'm interested in doing a story for a community newspaper on this, especially since there aren't any other avenues available for most people - as you said, the elderly, shut-ins, or simply people who want their animals to die peacefully at home rather than in a cold vet's office.

I had contacted Shelley about my eldest dog a couple of years ago. We made the decision to go to the vet based on the chaos of our other pets at home. I don't regret that for myself, but when my cat died this Christmas (at 18 years old) I'd have liked to have TPH as an option. She lived with my parents, and we ended up having to go into a clinic at the last minute. It wasn't a great experience - we'd discussed using TPH last summer when we knew the time was coming. Thanks to the charges that wasn't an option anymore.

If you know of anyone in the East York/Leaside/East Toronto area who have used their service and would speak with me, please send me a PM. If anyone has any other information to contribute I'd appreciate any messages as well!

babymomma
February 5th, 2009, 05:08 PM
Thats sad I hope they win the case.

dustybird
February 6th, 2009, 01:30 AM
I hope they win their case to, maybe with so many supporters the OVC and come up with some sort of legal binding cirtification for this type of business. If other vets and the public is on board with the serivce they provide then what's the problem, licensed vets after all are the ones doing it, they're just making the arragements. I can see some of why OVC is bothered by it but instead of making a stink perhaps find away to make it work.

There definately are people in need of such a service like mentioned as well as disabled(sorry if that's not the proper term) who for one thing are alone and don't have anyone to help them get to a vet. I know there are some vets that provide home services and some companies that provide pet/owner transport to a vet but there's not enough and this is different. It's probably the hardest decison a pet owner will ever have to make and it should be done in the most compassionate way possible for both the pet and owner.

We had an owner come in once who we couldn't let leave the clinic she was so distraught(not that we all wouldn't be), her dog was everything to her as she had no one. We tried to comfort her as best we could, even offering to drive her home and another staff member follow in her car. If this service had been available to her I think it would possibly have made it a little easier for her.

Magicwildwolf69
February 6th, 2009, 06:29 AM
this is so sad hope they win too :(
why is it some people do really good things and then get in trouble because of stupid loopholes its sad really

chico2
February 6th, 2009, 09:23 AM
Unfortunately this one lady had a terrible experience with the vet supplied by the couple and she is the one who alerted the authorities,I probably would have done the same.
Also,the charge for this service is over $600,in most cases your own vet will come to your house if that is what you need,at an extra charge of course.
I don't want to judge based on the media,but the lady with the 15yr old Jack Russel has a legit reason to be upset.
Her words were"The vet stabbed Black Jack FIVE times in the thigh and eventually in the heart",before the little old dog died:sad:
The JRT is a small dog,one injection in the leg,would probably had been enough to put him to sleep.
The Blechmans are responsible,since they supply the vets IMO.

BenMax
February 6th, 2009, 09:32 AM
Unfortunately this one lady had a terrible experience with the vet supplied by the couple and she is the one who alerted the authorities,I probably would have done the same.
Also,the charge for this service is over $600,in most cases your own vet will come to your house if that is what you need,at an extra charge of course.
I don't want to judge based on the media,but the lady with the 15yr old Jack Russel has a legit reason to be upset.
Her words were"The vet stabbed Black Jack FIVE times in the thigh and eventually in the heart",before the little old dog died:sad:
The JRT is a small dog,one injection in the leg,would probably had been enough to put him to sleep.
The Blechmans are responsible,since they supply the vets IMO.

Chico2 - the lady indeed witnessed something that is not unusual for an elderly dog with bad circulation. If the viens are 'dried up' or there is very little circulation then it sometimes is difficult for the vet to administer only once. If it is given through the heart then that is a pretty good indication of low circulation. Trust me - if the drug was administered through the heart - it's because the dog would have far suffered introveniously as it takes a horribly long time for the dog to pass if there is little blood flow...and it's not pretty.

chico2
February 6th, 2009, 10:26 AM
BenMax,I did not think of that,since I did not know about that fact.
I have had to(not me,the vet) euthanize several cats in my lifetime,a couple at 18+yrs old and never had this happen,one injection was always enough and not in the thigh.
I am just speaking from my own experience.
We are very quick to take the side of this couple,whom I agree are giving a good service to those who need it,but maybe they chose a vet who was not the best.

BenMax
February 6th, 2009, 10:44 AM
BenMax,I did not think of that,since I did not know about that fact.
I have had to(not me,the vet) euthanize several cats in my lifetime,a couple at 18+yrs old and never had this happen,one injection was always enough and not in the thigh.
I am just speaking from my own experience.
We are very quick to take the side of this couple,whom I agree are giving a good service to those who need it,but maybe they chose a vet who was not the best.

Indeed - without a medical condition and/or the medical state of the animal in question - no one can really judge...except the judge.

What bothers me is that no one injects in the thigh - they would inject in a vein. Maybe this woman did not explain properly.

celtic-redhead
February 6th, 2009, 10:51 AM
In that case, I would see the service as being a victim of a poor vet as well. Much the same way as if an employer is duped by an unqualified employee.

I've been in the situation (with a cat) where there were no usable veins because of dehydration. She'd been on a subcutaneous drip for fluids. When the time came to euthanize, the injections of the sedative were intramuscular, and the actual euthanasia was given in the heart. If it hadn't been explained clearly why they were doing so, I would have been upset as well.

I highly doubt it was a "stabbing" 5 times. I think people - especially those grieving - tend to dramatize occurances. If there was poor communication, or if the vet wasn't clear with the client, then it's no surprise that she would react that way. Remember when dealing with people, some people can be difficult in the best of times.

Also - I don't know if $600 is extreme. I had 2 vet visits over the holidays - 1 for my dog, who we ended up having to euthanize suddenly, and 1 for my elderly cat. In both cases the expense was at least $400, and I believe TPH's price they quoted last summer (of around $600) also included the cremation and ash return that I requested. So the extra expense for having a home visit wasn't that much more.

chico2
February 6th, 2009, 11:26 AM
I cannot speak of the cost of cremation,since my cats were brought home and buried in my back-yard.

badger
February 6th, 2009, 11:29 AM
I hadn't realized that it was actually complaints about the vet care that started the ruckus. If they are not employees of the company, why would the owners be targeted? Or is this a question of two birds with one stone.
600$ - wow - I guess that's not an option for me.

chico2
February 6th, 2009, 03:52 PM
I was reading the article again and it was actually $689 and nowhere does it say it included cremation.
The vet charges $150 to do the deed for the Blechmans.

badger
February 6th, 2009, 04:41 PM
So the vet gets 150 and the company keeps the rest? Double wow.
Seems low for the vet and high for the company, especially if there's no cremation (very expensive in itself + the profit margin).
Hmmm.

celtic-redhead
February 6th, 2009, 08:47 PM
In 2006 when I had contacted TPH, I was quoted $600 for services. I just checked (since I save everything) and that was including everything - cremation, ashes returned, home visit and euthanasia. I paid $400 at my vet - and they waived the visit fee since I'm a regular client, so it would have been more... The cremation costs alone were about $300, the drugs were $100. So the difference with TPH would have been about $200 for the service - which sounds about right if the vet gets paid $150. It comes down to what you're willing to pay for the service, versus expenses and struggle in getting the animal to the vet.

I know costs have gone up significantly as well. When my dog died this year, we paid well over $500 for just the euthanasia and cremation (beyond the $$$$$ already spent trying to diagnose and treat). Again - the vet waived their fees for it because of all of the diagnostics and treatment we went through before making the decision, so it would have been substantially more.

chico2
February 7th, 2009, 08:36 AM
This is not really about costs,I don't think anyone complained about the cost,they were fully aware I am sure,what the cost would be.
I see now that several people have come out of the woodwork with complaints.
I don't really understand why people just don't use the vet who knows them and the animals condition,any vet I've had,has always been willing to come to my house,at a cost.
The cats I had to put down,were too sick to care much:sad:and my vet was 5 minutes away.
My last kitty,Peppi,I wrapped in a blanket and held him in my arms,it was a question of seconds before he was at peace.

I read,the Bechmans arrived in Harley Davidson gear,with Harley Davidson decals on their truck,not that it matters,I love Harleys,maybe just inappropriate for such a sad occasion,not illegal though:cat:

aslan
February 7th, 2009, 08:57 AM
After reading what this company services are, they sound pretty much like any cemetary/funeral parlor. Yes they arrange for a vet to come to your home to do the procedure, yup might or might not be a little high in the price catagory,but they themselves are not doing the procedure. I may not like the stab in the leg part, but as others have said the owner may be dramatizing a little. I personally have had to carry a large dog in to be put down and would have prefered it done in my home.

krdahmer
February 7th, 2009, 09:12 AM
That's too bad, I've looked around and there aren't many places offering that sort of service. With pets becoming more and more like family and so much less as possessions, the vet college might have put in motion unwittingly, something that could end with Pet Funeral homes popping up all over. I think it's a great idea. I for one can't imagine having to say goodbye to my guys in a small 10x10 exam room, where they are stressed and uncomfortable. It's not fair to them or me. I know when the time comes if I get a choice I want to say my goodbyes and be with them here at home, no matter the cost. I can also see too that watching your dying dog have to be needled repeatedly in his last moments would definitely be traumatizing, despite being medically explainable.

chico2
February 7th, 2009, 10:20 AM
Aslan,I was talking to Luba(you probably don't know her)she said,in the phone-book there are several vets that will come to your home,if you are unable too bring your animal.
I don't know,have not checked,but there are soooo many vets around,maybe this is a way to keep competing for patients.

aslan
February 7th, 2009, 11:00 AM
yup i know who luba is,, luckily it's been many years since i've had to p/d one of mine so i can't speak for today. Last time i did it it wasn't an option to me. The problem is that if your regular vet doesn't give the option of coming to your home, then you have to find one who does, and odds are good you will be charged the new client fees.

chico2
February 7th, 2009, 03:53 PM
yes,that's true and I hope you will not have to go through this for a very long time with your sweet puppers:lovestruck:

kiara
February 8th, 2009, 11:27 AM
To me they sound like con artists, charging such an amount for their services, $600??? Are you kidding me? The only compasion in their business is for their pocket books. Especially when people are so vulnerable. If they get in trouble with the law ---good. If they don't have the needed permits, they should not be doing this service. Trust me, word gets around. What goes around, comes around. (I have met such people before, in the cat and dog industry that play on people's love for animals, only for their own rewards). You will not get compassion for them from me!!!

babysweet
February 8th, 2009, 03:23 PM
To me they sound like con artists, charging such an amount for their services, $600??? Are you kidding me? The only compasion in their business is for their pocket books. Especially when people are so vulnerable. If they get in trouble with the law ---good. If they don't have the needed permits, they should not be doing this service. Trust me, word gets around. What goes around, comes around. (I have met such people before, in the cat and dog industry that play on people's love for animals, only for their own rewards). You will not get compassion for them from me!!!

As someone here recently posted, this price is in line with what some of us already pay at higher end clinics for euthanasia/cremation/ash return depending on the size of the animal.

What really bothers me is how people in the "pet industry" are supposed to all be saints who work for free. Veterinarians, behaviourists, trainers, dog food companies - it's become immoral for any of them to make a profit off of our beloved pets.

And yet, pediatricians, toy makers, daycare centers, baby food manufacturers, video producers, etc make money off our children... funeral homes, casket manufacturers, crematoriums, headstone makers, graveyard operators, etc. all make money off the human deceased...

The bottom line is that they are providing a service that may not be available unless they were there to provide it. $600 may sound expensive to you, but I can guarantee it would cost at least that to have my vet come to my home to perform this service, all costs considered (and he most likely would not). There are veterinarians who are out there who are happy and willing to provide this service, for an appropriate fee, but who are not willing to deal with the constant after hours calling. And so, this company operates using "on call" vets (and yes, some vets suck - just like some doctors suck, some paramedics suck, some teachers suck, etc, etc, etc...) that take turns filling shifts, performing a needed service and being compensated for doing so.

I see nothing wrong with this service. When you contract out services, particularly in a situation like this where there are likely to be dozens of vets involved, obviously you can't expect the company to be held 100% liable for the actions of every veterinarian they send out. Are they somewhat accountable? Absolutely! But the problem the OVC/CVMA should be looking into is how this vet still has a license to practice, not how this vet came to be at this woman's home. When you contract a professional such as a veterinarian, a teacher, a paramedic, a person who has obtained a license to practice the job they specialize in and has a governing body and a set of rules and ethics to follow, you should be able to assume, to some degree, that that person is at least competent.

Sadly, in the case mentioned above, it sounds as if this vet(s) was not (although it really is the owner's word vs. the vet and until the case is proven one way or another it is conjecture at this point).

This does not make the company greedy, immoral, or guilty of trying to "profit from our love of animals." (is there really anything wrong with that? Really?) No one forced these people to use this service. There are other vets available.

If you want to talk about immoral greed in this industry, why don't we talk about veterinary ER markup - which in some cases is not an issue and in others is up to four times what you would pay in your regular clinic. I understand you're going to pay more for afterhours care, but when the only ER clinic within an hours drive is one of these insanely priced (and poorly staffed) ERs, it's extortion as far as I'm concerned. Particularly when an hour away there's an ER that's performing better services with better skilled staff for 1/4 of the price. :( But these are not "choice" situations - euthanasia generally is.

For the record, I paid $180 to have my dog cremated and the ashes returned to me recently. I found this price to be extremely reasonable (my last clinic charged me $250 for the same service for my cat). The dog had passed away suddenly at home, so there was no exam fee, no euth. fee, and no home visit fee. I have no doubt that I would have been paying about $400 had the dog required euthanization, without a home visit.

To me, this cost seems more than reasonable. Try to get a doctor to come to your home in the middle of the night to perform a simple task like change your bandages or check your temperature - I guarantee the bill will be three times this. Why are vets expected to work so cheap? Oh, right... "for the love of the animals." Guess what - love doesn't pay THEIR mortgage, either - if it did, we'd all have tons of money and vet bills wouldn't be an issue for any of us! :o

kiara
February 8th, 2009, 04:06 PM
Public beware, if someone is operating without a permit, they are for sure doing something fishy and braking the law. As far as I am concerned, who the hell do they think they are??? Yes you can spend $$$ for euthanazia, cremation, container to keep the ashes in, footprints in clay of your beloved pet etc... Everyone who is in any business of course has to make a living. Let us not get side tracked, we are talking about this specific service and these specific people.

celtic-redhead
February 8th, 2009, 05:12 PM
This is not so much a matter of operating without a permit - I believe they operate as a registered business.

The basis for the charges are the activities of operating a veterinary referral service. This is an archaic rule of the College of Veterinarians of Ontario that prevents vets or companies from referring clients to a particular vet or practice. I've heard of other pet-related businesses - i.e. a pet sitter or pet store - who have also referred people to a vet they recommended, and got in trouble by the OMVA for doing so.

They're not operating a basement-run business, but the OMVA is determined to shut out any business that attempts to provide veterinary care - even if the care is provided by a vet, but the company is run by a private individual.

It would be like telling Spectrum Health Care that they can't send nurses to clients for home visits, unless the owner of the company and the person who dispatches the staff are also nurses.

As to the cost issue, I agree that crucifying anyone for coming up with a business model and charging an appropriate fee for it is unreasonable. I could say to you that you shouldn't accept a paycheque for your job, because that's just preying on people who need whatever service you provide. Based on the fees charged by my vet (which include profit, yes) - the price of the service seems to cover the related expenses and standard fees for the cremation/burial etc. And if someone said that the vet gets paid $150 per hour, then that would account for the extra markup.

Regardless - I don't care if they charge $1000. If people are willing to pay for the service because there are no other options to them, then businesses should be allowed to offer the service. In this case, they're being shut down and CHARGED because of a technicality that shouldn't even exist, IMO. Charge them if they were negligent (though that would be a civil matter, really) or charge the vet for malpractice. But don't make an example of someone because you don't like the fact that they exist to fulfill a need.

I'm still interested in hearing from anyone, preferably in the East York area of Toronto, who'd want to talk about their views or experiences for an article.

babysweet
February 8th, 2009, 07:07 PM
Thank you for clarifying my previous post, celtic. :)

I too am very interested to hear first hand accounts of any dealings with this business - although I think what it comes down to are these laws finally being repealed.

Personally, I believe that anyone should be able to own a veterinary clinic. There are lots of people out there with the funds to open a state of the art vet clinic with premium services and facilities - but no degree. And there are plenty of vets out there with a degree but no funds to finance such an adventure (most have difficulty paying off even their student loans).

There should be certifications involved, oversight as necessary, and a set of governing rules/persons. But to strictly disallow anyone but a veterinarian from owning any business that provides any veterinary services at all is elitist and not beneficial to pet owners, veterinarians, or pets.

And THAT is the root of this issue. I don't think this poor business has a chance (the law is pretty clear) but who knows, maybe the CVMA has opened a can of worms with this ruckus and more people will take note of their regulations and begin to demand change.